Updated: Dec 30, 2022
If UnderBelly had a catch word, it'd be consistency. And we've talked about the importance of consistency as well as some simple tips on how you can actually create consistency, but now we can get into the real nitty gritty details.
You may have seen us recommend creating a Branding Sheet for your business. And maybe you Googled what this meant and have seen a few photos on Pinterest, but lets get into actually creating and using your branding sheet.
A few notes before we get started. A branding sheet is different than a brand document. Confusing I know. A brand document is often seen as your brand's bible; it tells you what you can and can not do, your brand ethos, mission statement, values, and plenty of examples. These are often 20+ pages long and can cost you thousands of dollars to get done professionally. And while these can be helpful if you have a full marketing team who will be dedicated to making assets and training new team members, this can be overwhelming and excessive if you are a 2 person team and one of you just so happens to be running your social media.
A branding sheet is much much simpler. As the name implies, it is just a sheet or a one-pager. It typically includes your color palate, fonts, logos, and any iconography that gets used frequently. If you were to read a brand document you would have a vivid sense of that brand and what they are selling. Your brand sheet is like reading the spark notes.
The reason we recommend a brand sheet vs a brand document for small businesses and bootstrapping startups is because 1. it's not going to cost you thousands to do and 2. in the day-to-day operation, the brand sheet is going to be far more helpful when creating new assets.
When we say we learned this all the hard way, we mean it and the proof is in the pudding. This was our first startup Babette Travel. Look at the hodgepodge of fonts and styles. We didn't even edit the same photo the same way!
If you haven't been using a set font for your social media posts, website, and print materials, don't feel bad because we've all been there. But now is your chance to make a decision and start creating unison. One big tip for choosing fonts in particular, make sure it's something that you can legally use it for free across all platforms. For instance, you may have found a beautiful font on Canva but it's not a default in your web builder and when you go to download it from Google, you have to pay a licensing fee to use it commercially. Now if you're Nike, you don't mind paying for your font but with so many great free fonts out there, why create an added cost? Instead, simply google "Fonts similar to blank" and Google fonts will give you a bunch of free options that you can download and use both in your website builder AND in Canva.
Best practices is using 3 fonts: HEADER, SUB-HEADER, TEXT
Just like we recommend using fonts across all platforms, we recommend the same with brand colors. There are a million different ways of choosing your color palate and every designer is going to have their own trick. Every designer will also have their own theories for choosing specific colors and at the end of the day, your color palate is absolutely important, but it's impossible to choose one that will please everyone. Now I'll let you in on my secret for creating color palates. I'm terrible at imagining which colors are going to say what I need them to say. So instead, I hunt around on Pinterest or Unsplashed to find photos that evoke the feeling I'm trying to express. I then upload those photos into Adobe Color Selector which will create a color palate based on the image you upload. I then adjust and play with the palate (all in Adobe Color) until it's just right. It's incredible the range of color palates I've created through this simple free tool.
Most color palates have 4 to 5 colors
The final step is putting your fonts, colors, and logo variations (yes, you should have a couple versions of your logo because one color/style is not going to work across every scenario) into a beautiful template! Check out the UnderBelly brand sheet below for inspiration.
And as you'll see, we immediately broke our recommendation of 4-5 colors. Proof that there are truly very few hard & fast rules in design & branding.
Remember to take it one step at a time. And if you have any questions, always feel free to reach out. We love talking about this stuff!