I want to share a secret with you – how you can easily be on-brand, and that is by using a brand toolkit to help you. I’ve talked about this with a lot of business owners, and it has changed the way they create graphics, particularly for social media.
The toolkit is intended to allow you to create on-brand graphics whenever you need them and at short notice. It includes some easy to use tools, and I’ve got some ideas on what you should include in yours.
Why Should You Have a Brand Toolkit?
The brand toolkit includes everything you need to create on-brand graphics, but most importantly, it should be useable by anybody within your company, as well as external suppliers.
This makes sure that there’s not just one person who has the knowledge to create graphics – everyone should be able to produce what they need and to the same standard, no matter what their job is.
Whether it’s a team member or a third-party contractor who’s creating the graphics, you should have everything you need in one place, ready to send to them so they can use the tools straight away.
This saves valuable time, as there’s no need to email backwards and forwards, requesting assets and elements, logos, colour codes, sizing and so on. That communication is eliminated, because everything someone needs to create graphics is available whenever they need it, wherever they are.
Having a brand toolkit also means there is more chance of things being correct and consistent in future. If there’s something missing or not quite right, it can be damaging for the business.
For example, someone creates a colour grade that doesn’t match the brand shade or they choose the wrong logo or image in the graphic. If this continues to happen, it waters down the brand and the toolkit has gone out of the window.
At that point, it’s hard to work backwards to replace all the images, marketing materials and so on that have already been shared in public. You don’t know what people think when they see the wrong things – if it’s a slightly off-colour shade, they may not notice, but using different images is more obvious.
The brand toolkit ensures that the correct assets are in one place and accessible to everyone, and keeps things consistent, on-brand and of a high quality every single time they’re used.
What Goes into a Brand Toolkit?
This needs to be your final logo, not an early version from the designer or in a colour or font you changed your mind about. This means there’s no confusion over which logo is the right one to use.
Your logo should be in different formats, such as an EPS file – a vector format which means you can make the image as large as you like without it pixilating or losing quality.
Most people won’t actually have the right software to open these file formats, but you should have them accessible just in case. They’re often used in print, so both designers and printers can open them and work with them as necessary.
You also need to have a version of your logo in JPG format, and in a PNG file. This has a transparent background and can be used online. They must be set to 300 dpi and 72 dpi – don’t worry if that sounds technical, as your designer can do it for you.
Have full-colour, mono (black and white) and reverse versions of your logo, so no matter where you’re using it, you’ve got it in the format you need and you don’t have to ask your busy designer to create it for you.
There are licencing rules around sharing fonts, so they’re not always available to the clients of a designer. However, you do need to know what they are and how they’re used. For instance, you may only have a heading font and a body copy font, to keep things easy.
The brand toolkit also includes a reference to the colours used within your brand. This might include both a primary and a secondary colour palette, and where possible have the Pantone version (standardised colours). These come in CMYK and RGB formats.
These three things are the most important elements of your brand toolkit. Once you have these in place, you can start creating graphics straight away, and be confident that they’re on-brand. Additionally, you may have illustrations or background textures too.
If you’ve got stock images you’ve licenced, include these in the brand toolkit, but make sure you note down how and where they can be used – e.g. on your website, on social media or offline marketing materials.
You may have had professional headshots or product photography done, so these also need to be available for people to access. Remember, they should be saved in both web and print quality formats and clearly labelled to prevent any problems.
Your toolkit should also have a brand guidelines document. This helps people understand where your brand has come from, why it looks the way it does and how to use all of the assets correctly.
This helps to eliminate any confusion or mistakes further down the line and ensures that your brand is consistent and coherent across all the assets created, both in-house and externally. It’s also a great reference to use for fonts, colours and how the logo should look in different situations (e.g. on top of images, against a background, in black and white).
Every business should have a guidelines document within their brand toolkit. It may only be a few lines or run to several pages, but it needs to explain clearly which fonts, logo, colours and images should be used, what shouldn’t be done, and how to use them all together.
When you start to use all of these elements within your toolkit, with your external suppliers and across all your marketing communications, you can be sure that everything created for your brand is sharing the right messages. There won’t be any confusion, and everyone will instantly recognise your branding.