In one of our previous articles, we have already touched upon what is in fact a brand design system and why it is so important to create one, no matter how small or big is your business. In that post, we shared 11 design system examples, according to our opinion. But what exactly makes a design system a good one?
A brand design system is a collection of branding assets; it functions as “the official story of how an organization designs and builds products.”
Essentially a design system is a reference to make sure that everyone who works on a product is always on the same page, consistent, and in agreeance with the way things should be. Apart from that, it is a library of sorts for the team to find all brand-related elements whenever they need to.
As the project grows, there will naturally be more things to remember. A Brand system is a great way to have everything in one place; and a design system specifically will help you designers – especially new ones – to keep branding intact.
Today, we will dive deep into the elements of a brand design system: what exactly you need to create effective design kits for future use.
What does a brand design system include?
In order to make this part as illustrative as possible, we’ll describe every element using a brand design system that Uber created for their brand.
The logo is an image, text, or shape that is the core of your brand identity system identifying your product or service. On a deeper level, it has to convey the attributes, values, and personality of your company too.
A good brand design system is the one that of course contains everything logo-related: sizes, clear space specifications, colors, placement, logo fonts, etc.
In its essence, a logo is the face of your brand, it’s important to keep its element consistent through your every medium.
2. Brand Mark
The brand mark is a graphical symbol that becomes the primary visual signifier of a brand, it’s a subsection of logo design of sorts. Brand marks remove all letters, words, and names from your logo, to convey meaning exclusively through imagery.
A brand color palette is a unique color combination that expresses the personality of your brand. Choosing your branding colors is easy if the process starts with learning the emotional associations of each color first.
A brand design system is a place where you define the exact colors your brand uses for each of its aspects. In particular:
- Brand’s primary colors
- Brand’s secondary colors
- Brand’s accent color
- Brand’s specialty colors
A good practice would be to also define in what proportions you’d like the colors to be used.
The color palette is a powerful tool to create certain associations with your brand: make sure your designers are using the right hues every time.
4. Brand Fonts
Brand fonts are a set of fonts that tell a story by bringing a voice and personality to your work. Different fonts evoke different emotions, so choosing them is an art. There are three main groups — serif, san serif, and script.
Fonts are oftentimes neglected, but it is just as powerful as a logo can be. You need to be very careful with choosing the fonts and then arranging them into an awesome typography strategy: adding them into a brand design system is one way to keep your brand identity to look cohesive.
If you use a different font every time you communicate with the world, your style, your identity, your brand will be lost.
Typography in its turn is defined as arranging text in an engaging, and interesting way that gets the message across most appropriately. It includes the layout, spacing, sizes, hierarchy, color, and integration of type across a variety of mediums.
The way your text is displayed also helps your brand to communicate a certain message to the audience.
Imagery is the result of all the visuals that represent your brand’s identity. The brand imagery can appear in a variety of forms, from billboards to the Instagram page, websites to print ads — but they all visually communicate with your potential customer, and thus need to adhere to the general style of your brand.
In simple words, imagery is what your customer can see, touch, smell, hear or taste. Since we’re working on a design system after all, let’s concentrate on what can be seen – the brand’s visual identity.
How does your brand communicate with users on a visual level? Include it into the brand design system.
Icons, how to create them, and where to use them.
Illustrations, their style, principles, construction.
Photography, what and who should be photographed, the composition, and applications.
Remember: a brand design system will be used as a reference by different field experts that will work for you, make sure you provide every brand element that needs to be intact. The 5 elements mentioned today is just a backbone, a few essential parts that every brand has and uses.
But there are different brands, some might have to add brand characters – their personalities, drawing style, usage choices. Others might need to add the sounds they associate with their product.
7. Brand patterns
Brand patterns are, well, the patterns that are specific to a brand. They can be derived from the logo, brand mark, or any other element of the brand’s visual identity. Or be created from scratch altogether.
They can play a vital role in brand recognition, bringing life to simple logos and helping create strong, memorable brand expressions.
Now, Uber for instance doesn’t have one – it’s a different kind of business. However, to illustrate, let us show a different example.
If your brand is using patterns – for merch, packaging, stationary – anything really, you might want to add it to the brand design system.
8. Brand layouts
The brand layout shows the ratio and distribution between the elements on the page that is common to your brand. If you want all of your mediums to look consistent and give off your brand’s style, you should always stick to a few layout templates.
Create a brand book first, then assemble the design system!
Gingersauce is a brand guidelines builder that combines automation and creativity. It’s a professional tool – meaning, it won’t do a half-baked job, leaving you with a mediocre result.
A key goal of a brand book is keeping a record of all your branding elements, including the visual identity: Gingersauce will gather everything in one place and make it easier to assemble the design system after.
You can download a generated brand book right away – it will only take a few minutes to do so!