Do you own a small business or blog? If so, then you know the importance of branding.
As you develop your brand story, you should also be creating a brand kit to establish and strengthen your brand.
But what is a brand kit exactly, and what’s included in it?
In this post, I’ll define a brand kit, discuss its importance, list the essential elements that you should include in it, and show you how to create and use one.
What is a brand kit?
A brand kit is a set of brand attributes that helps to define and communicate your brand consistently across all touchpoints.A brand kit provides a visual foundation that can help you create a cohesive look and feel for a website, social media channels, and all other marketing collateral. Click To Tweet
Even if you are just a solopreneur or a blogger, you should have a brand kit to guide you any time you create some marketing material.
Creating a brand kit is an essential part of building a recognizable and and strong brand.
What elements should a brand kit include?
The specific elements of a brand kit can vary depending on the needs of the business, but they typically include:
- Color palette
LogoA logo is the most important element of your brand identity and should be at the core of your brand kit. Click To Tweet
Make sure that your logo is simple, easy to read, and recognizable.
You also need to create different versions of your logo to use in different marketing materials.
Think about how your logo will look if it goes on a pale background vs a dark one.
Or if it’s on a flat color vs on a photo.
If you have an icon in your logo, should it always be used with the text, or can it be used without? You need to be clear on all the different options of your logo to maintain consistency in your designs.
All the logo options should be in your brand kit. See below an example from WhatsApp.
Your brand colors should be eye-catching and memorable. They should be used in your logo.
Choose colors that complement each other and create a visual impact.
Here is the WhatsApp color palette.
These colors are more or less in the same palette, but you can have brands whose color palettes include multiple colors too. Take Slack, for example.
Select fonts that reflect the adjectives to describe your brand. Make sure they are legible and easy to read.
They should also convey the tone of your brand—whether it’s fun and playful or more serious and professional.
Here are the Slack guidelines on fonts for different types of text.
Once you have all of the elements of your brand kit, it’s time to put them all together in one place, in a brand kit.
Having everything in one place will make it easier for you (and others) to access it when you need to create your marketing materials.
Why do you need a brand kit?
A brand kit is a tool that will help you to create a professional and consistent brand identity.
This is what a brand kit helps you do:
1. Create a recognizable and memorable identity
Think about any brand you know. What comes to mind?
Chances are that the first things you think of are the logo and colors.
Because the brand has always used the colors, the logo, and the typography in a certain way repeatedly, it has made an impression on your mind. You can recognize the colors anywhere, and you remember them.
That’s what a brand kit helps you to do. Provide the guidelines for using your visual elements in a specific way, so the brand is always recognized.
2. Maintain brand consistency
A brand kit also helps you to maintain consistency across all your branding and marketing material. Consistency helps to establish your brand.
A brand kit gives you the tools to create professional-looking marketing materials that look like they belong to the same business. Over time, your brand is established.
3. Increases brand trust
When a company’s brand is consistently represented across all touchpoints, it creates a cohesive and professional look for your company. This is vital for building brand recognition and trust with customers. Or with investors, if it’s applicable to you.
4. Facilitates team management
If you have multiple designers or agencies who are working with you on your brand’s marketing elements, a brand kit can be a valuable tool. By having a brand kit in place, you can ensure that your brand identity remains consistent and well-protected.
How to create your brand kit?
Step 1. Define your brand story.
That is where you define the brand: its purpose, mission, personality, values, etc.
You can use my free brand story guide to help you create these essential aspects of your brand story.
Get a FREE, detailed guide to creating your brand story
Using this as a foundation, you create the design elements of your brand and brand kit:
- Color palette
- Icons, design elements, etc.
Step 2: Create your logo and color palette
There are many ways you can get a logo. If you are confident in your design skills you can design it yourself.
If not, you can get help from freelancers on Fiverr, or get help from a graphic designer.
If you ask the help of a professional, explain to them your brand in detail and give them a proper brief with all your requirements.
Discuss also your preferred colors to create your brand color palette. Read my complete tutorial on how to choose a brand color palette that fits your brand to a T.
I asked my colleague and friend, Bosky Doshi (who also partners with me sometimes on design work for my clients), to create a logo for me.
I gave her a full brief of my brand purpose, personality, colors, etc. And she came up with a logo I absolutely love.
I also asked her to give me the icon separately, (not as a part of the full logo), and a version of the logo in white and grey for dark backgrounds.
Get different versions of your logos on transparent backgrounds (not white) and save them as PNG files instead of JPG files.
Then you can use them on any colored background, flat colors, or photographs.
So now I have all these options for my brand logos.
Note: You need to note down the RGB, CMYK, and HEX codes for your colors.
Step 3: Choose your fonts
Again, based on your brand purpose, personality, and style, choose fonts that best represent your brand.
Remember to choose 3 font formats. One each for:
You may choose the same font for all, only differ the sizes (that’s what I do), or you may have one font for headlines and one for text.
You can use Google fonts to try and test different fonts by typing a sample text and choosing a font by properties (like thickness), categories, and language.
Avoid having more than two fonts for your brand. Keep it simple.
Step 4: Put them all together
Now it’s the final part where your brand kit comes together for you to use in your marketing designs.
There are three options you can consider here.
Option 1. Create your brand kit on a desktop software
In this option, you create a document in any offline design software of your choice (preferably a design one like Adobe Illustrator).
You add all your logo, color, and font options and save it as a PDF/ JPEG. See the example below.
Image Source: Elegant Themes
It doesn’t have to be a fancy, well-designed brand kit. You just have to put all your elements together like in the example above.
Pros of creating a manual brand kit
Using a manual brand kit is completely free. If you hire a designer to create marketing material for you, this can serve as a good guideline.
Cons of creating a manual brand kit
This is just a static document and a guideline. So every time you want to create and use new brand imagery design, you have to create it from scratch and keep referring to this document. From experience, I can tell you, it takes a TON of time.
So while you can and maybe create a manual brand kit, you should also use an online brand kit to quickly create your regular graphics like for your branded website, blog, and social media.
Related: Canva vs Illustrator
Option 2. Buy a brand kit online
There are plenty of designers who create premade brand kits. You can just change your logo, colors, and fonts.
Pros of using premade brand kits:
- They are relatively cheap
- The designs are easy to use with a few tweaks
Cons of using premade brand kits:
- They are not customized to your brand. Plenty of other people are downloading the same kit and using it. You then lose the key element of branding: uniqueness.
- The available designs may not match your brand story. I also explored many of them, but none matched my brand exactly. Custom-made kits cost more, but at least they are unique to your brand.
- You mostly get the static document and the logo files as JPEGs or PNGs. Then the way of working is the same as using desktop software. Or you could get the designs in an online tool.
I would advise against using these premade run-of-the-mill templates, but if that’s what works for you, go ahead! Do what feels right.
Option 3. Create your brand kit with an online tool
This is what I do. It gives me complete control over my branding elements and templates, and it’s unique.
Besides, creating digital content and graphics to support your website content needs to be quick. I can easily use my brand elements on whichever social media or other marketing material I want to create, which saves me a lot of time.
You can use any online design tool like Canva Pro, Picmonkey, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.
I do it using the Canva Brand Kit. I love Canva because it’s very user-friendly, and it lets me create a whole range of marketing elements, both online and offline.
Read my complete review of the Canva Pro pricing, whether it’s worth it, and how it compares to other online and offline tools.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the elements you can create.
Pros of creating an online brand kit
It’s a dynamic brand kit, instead of a static document.The biggest advantage of using an online tool to create your brand kit is that all the elements are saved in one place which can be applied to any marketing design in one click. Saves a lot of time. Click To Tweet
Cons of creating an online brand kit
It’s cheap, but not free. Nothing that makes life simple and efficient ever is 😉
How to create your brand kit with Canva
Step 1: Sign up for Canva.
You can get a 30-day free trial of Canva to start creating your custom brand kit.
You can either use the browser version or download it as an app. Since I use it very often, I downloaded the app both on my desktop and mobile.
Step 2: Click on ‘Brand’ and choose a Brand Kit name.
Now you just have to set up your logos, colors, and typography.
1. Click on Brand Logos and set up all the different versions of your logo. Here is mine.
2. Click on Brand Colors and create your different color palettes. Here’s what mine looks like.
Get your primary colors from the logo (ask your designer if it was professionally made) and to add more colors, just drag the slider to a color that fits with your brand palette.
3. Click on Brand Fonts and set the fonts you want for your headings, subheadings, and long copy.
You can also upload custom fonts if you like.
Remember to also set the size and format of the font, like bold/ italics, etc.
These are my brand fonts.
And that’s it! Your brand kit is set up.
When it comes to using your brand kit to create your designs, it becomes very handy to use an online tool like Canva Pro. See how below.
How to create marketing materials with your brand kit
If you want to create a design, say an Instagram story on your desktop software, create a document in your desktop software.
Add colors and text by referring to your PDF brand kit document, and insert the JPEG or PNG logos.
In an online tool, you can insert elements with a single click. On Canva, for example, let’s say you want to create an Instagram story.
Click on ‘Create a Design’
Choose an Instagram story. The dimensions are created automatically and you can start designing your story.
Add or change a color
Just click on the object, then the color icon.
And you will see all your brand colors on the left. Just select the one you want.
Add your text
When it’s time to add text, and you click on Text, it will automatically show you the Brand Kit fonts and you can start typing without using manually formatting it every time.
Add your logo
When you want to add your logo to your design (as you definitely should), click on Logos in the bottom left corner and it will show you all your brand logos. Choose the applicable one.
So every time you create a design from scratch, you don’t have to manually input the colors. This makes designing anything using the Canva Brand Kit very easy and quick.
What is even better is that with Canva’s Content Planner, you can directly schedule your design to be posted on social media.
Use of your brand kit by your team or freelance designer
If you use a brand kit made on your desktop software, you can simply share the pdf file with your team members or freelance designers who will create your marketing materials. It will act as their guideline.
If you use an online tool like Adobe Creative Cloud or Canva, you can grant access to your team and keep control of the designs they create.
For example, on Canva Pro, you can add certain people as team members, which will give them access to your brand kit.
And then you can set Brand Controls on color, font, and an approval system. See the screenshot below for details.
Tips to create your own brand kit
Here are some tips to help you create an effective brand kit that will give your business a unique, beautiful, and strong identity:
1. Define your brand identity
Brand kits contain visual assets that show your brand’s identity. You can’t create a great brand kit without defining your goals, mission, vision, values, and personality. Defining your brand identity gives you a clear view of how your visual assets should appeal to your target audience.
2. Choose a color palette that reflects your brand values and personality
Your brand kit’s combination of colors and shades should reflect your brand values and personality. Apple preaches minimalism, and its brand colors of black and gray perfectly reflect this. You can’t create a brand that preaches environmental sustainability without having green in your color palette. Many Canva brand kit examples will come in handy when choosing the right color palette for your brand.
3. Ensure your typography complements your brand identity
Typography is essential to brand kit design, as it must complement your brand’s identity. To maintain consistency in your texts, ensure there’s a primary font for headings and a secondary font for body text. You must also choose a font that is legible across different platforms and sizes. If you’re using one of the Canva brand kit examples for inspiration, you’ll see the live application of these minor changes to your overall brand identity.
4. Create templates for different materials
Your brand kit should contain templates for different marketing materials, such as business cards, letterheads, social media graphics, websites, and print designs. This is to ensure nobody distorts your brand assets in the process of making them fit into their marketing materials.
5. Seek feedback and iterate accordingly
Feedback is vital to creating a brand kit that accurately reflects your brand identity. So, to create an awesome brand kit, test different elements of the kit with your target audience, get feedback from them, and use the information to refine and improve your brand identity.
Brand kit template
Here’s a simple brand kit template to streamline your brand kit creation effort:
What is the difference between a brand kit, a brand style guide, and brand guidelines?
A brand kit includes the basic visual elements that you need to create your marketing materials.
The different logo versions, the type, and size of fonts, the colors, etc.
A brand style guide is one step higher than a brand kit. It includes much more detailed instructions on using the brand elements.
For example, how much space to keep around the logos, how to use logos on different backgrounds, the dimensions in which logos should be used, etc.
See below an example from the Slack style guide.
A brand style guide can also include guidelines on photography, tone of voice, and messaging.
Brand guidelines include everything that you can and should not do with a brand.
Besides visual elements and tone of voice, brand guidelines also include the brand positioning, mission statement, values, and more.
I have a small business. Do I need to create a brand style guide and brand guidelines as well?
It depends on how big your small business brand is. If you are a solopreneur or have a partnership company, and occasionally use freelance designers, a brand kit is enough.
If you have a bigger team or use an agency for your branding and marketing, in short, if there are many people involved in your business, branding and marketing, I would suggest creating a brand style guide and brand guidelines as well. It helps to keep everyone on the same page and avoid logo or visual distortions of your brand.
A brand kit can help you create a strong, memorable brand. Especially if you create one online, it makes creating your marketing material quick and simple, even when working with a team member or freelancer.
Not just that, as your brand evolves, a brand kit helps to communicate these changes visually by providing a clear representation of the brand’s new identity. This makes it easier for people to understand and recognize the changes and helps to build trust and loyalty.
Do you use a brand kit for your business? Why or why not? Would love to know your comments!