When we started building websites for our pet industry clients, we quickly learned that trying to design a website without a Brand Guide first is like trying to get dressed with your eyes closed.
It might come out ok, but more than likely the end result will look disjointed, and the design elements won’t make sense in other applications. It’s also very difficult to make decisions about each element. “Does this work with this? I don’t know…”.
Without a cohesive strategy, we are just poking around in the dark, hoping that each element we pick will look ok, not only on the website, but wherever else we want to use it.
So we need a strategy. And that comes in the form of a Brand Guide.
So what is a Brand Guide anyway?
Brand Guides can be known by any of the following names:
- Brand Board
- Brand Style Board
- Brand Style Guide
- Brand Identity Guide
- Brand Book
- Brand Bible
- Brand Guide
With the exception of the Brand Board/Brand Style Board, they all mean the same thing.
A Brand Board/Brand Style Board is a simple one-page design that includes at minimum:
It may also include:
- Photo mood board
We use that Brand Board to inform every aspect of the design.
Five risks of not using a Brand Guide for a web design project
- Fonts that are disjointed and don’t look good together, or in other applications like print or advertising.
- Colors that don’t fit with the personality of the company, and/or may not look good in other applications like print. (Great colors have beautiful print alternates as well.)
- Graphics and other assets whose ‘feel’ don’t match the fonts and/or colors chosen. (Ex: rustic graphics paired with a super modern clean font.)
- Fonts and colors that aren’t accessible or user-friendly. (Ex: white text on a pale sky blue background.)
- A logo that only looks good on the web, and/or doesn’t have an alternate to use. (Ex: a large busy logo used in the center of a menu bar, but looks terrible when printed in an event handout.)
There are many others, but that should give you a good idea of what you’ll run into when trying to pull brand elements out of thin air while designing a website.
Ten benefits of using a Brand Guide for a web design project
- Cohesive designs that increase/improve brand stickiness.
- Colors that work great in every application and evoke the emotions the brand is trying to convey.
- Graphics and other assets whose feel matches the fonts and/or colors chosen.
- Fonts and colors that are both accessible and user-friendly.
- A logo that looks great both on the web and in print.
- Submark logo versions that can be used in specific capacities, like a drop-down menu.
- Favicons (browser icons), that make the pages instantly recognizable in a user’s browser tab.
- Photos that enhance the personality of the company, and compel the user to feel a certain way.
- A design process that goes quickly and smoothly.
- All web pages and elements (marketing pages, information pages, sales/landing pages, e-com pages, etc), have the same impact.
So you can clearly see the risks of not using a Brand Guide, and the many benefits of using a Brand Guide, in your website design!