brand color pallete example

Online Brand book builder comparison

Back in 2010, when clients came to my branding and web design studio for their first website, my starting question was “do you have a brand?”. Most of the time the response was: “what is a brand?”. In going further and asking for a logo, I discovered that a large percentage of companies did not consider it important to have a logo and other graphic  elements to visually represent them. Neither they used professional brand book builders and design platforms. Smaller companies considered branding processes expensive, unnecessary, and something for the big guys. 

Most of the companies simply advised me to: “write our name in a nice font and color and let’s move on with the website.” I have learned from experience that the low-tech companies approaching me for a website had no real understanding of the internet. They just knew they needed an online presence. 

Luckily, we have come a long way in branding awareness over the past 10 years. Companies today appreciate the value of branding in art because they have had lower-cost options and tools available to them. Brand books and brand guidelines are the next evolution of this process. Small and medium companies are increasingly understanding the value of these tools from the get-go. 

As a designer, I have been creating style guides and more extensive brand books for years. I have become more experienced and efficient in the process, and yet it still takes me or my team a good few hours to produce a quality brand book. Time I would much rather spend on designing than on the technical side of finalizing and presenting the brand to my clients. This is why I have started to research brand book builders.

What are brand book builders?

You have spent time creating a great brand system for your client who cannot wait to get started. The final step now is to create a brand book and brand guidelines so that your client and everyone in the team knows how to use your work. It is that final step of creating the brand book that can feel like a time-consuming and repetitive chore. Needed, but not liked. 

Designers know the value of a brand book because no one wants their clients to mess up their designs. And yet manually designing brand books takes time and effort, even if it is not you but one of your team working on it. What would you give to move on to the next creative project and reduce the brand book building to a mere 15 minutes?

Brand book builders are online tools that go further than the templates we have all tried to use. They automate parts of the manual building process or the entire process. 

I have reviewed and tested nine brand book builders and rank them below based on the following criteria:

  • Target audience: I have identified the level of expertize needed to use the tools and whether the tools are more geared towards entrepreneurs or designers
  • Pricing: In this section, I show how much the tools cost in all their pricing options
  • Pros and cons: I have also listed detailed pros and cons as identified throughout the testing process
What are brand book builders?
Screenshot from Gingersauce builder

Gingersauce

Description: Gingersauce is an all-in-one platform for creating, managing, and presenting brand books. Users follow a simple wizard that guides them through the different aspects of the brand. The wizard helps designers upload the different elements and elaborates logo and assets to automatically calculate proportionsand clear space to manipulate these calculations for the variations as well as the misuse cases.  When I was building GingerSauce, I prioritized resolving the issues that you’ll read about in comparison of other tools. Obviously, our tool is still growing – but after years of trying the altenratives, I think we are on the right track. 

Target audience: Gingersauce targets designers from beginners to professionals as well as freelancers and agencies

Pricing: from $0-$69 per brand book

Pros:

Gingersauce helps the designer to create the right brand book for a system of visual identity

    • simplicity: the wizard guide was very easy to follow
    • speed: I managed to create a book using the system in less than 15 minutes (wow!)
    • logo variations and misuse cases: the brand book tool managed to manipulate the basic logo I uploaded showing the proportions and clear space as well as generating logo variations and on the spot logo misuse cases
    • templates: creating the brand book did not cost me a lot of time but I was still able to choose from 3 design templates and ended up with a beautifully designed brand book for my client
    • cool promotion: Gingersauce is giving away a free brand book for each new user you refer to the system, and there is no limit to how many free books you can get (!)

Cons:

    • while it is a suitable tool for small to medium-size businesses, it is still limited for large companies managing multiple campaigns and 100’s of graphic files
    • the brand book doesn’t help create a vision or mission statement but relies on the designer’s customer to bring that input as a prerequisite for the visual identity process.
 

Zebrand

 

zebrand comparison
Description: Zebrand is an online platform for entrepreneurs to skip the costs of a branding agency and instead rely totally on this tool to provide complete end-to-end branding, including a usable website, PowerPoint templates and a brand book.
Target audience: entrepreneurs
Pricing: $600-$750/year for 1 brand
Pros:
  • Zebrand provides a fully automated process by asking multiple-choice questions – resulting in a fairly comprehensive starting point for someone who has no concept of what they want and where to start in building a brand.
  • The tool does not require expertize;
  • You can create the brand in a few minutes;
  • users can eliminate the costs of an agency or designes;

Cons:

  • does not take the designer into consideration or include the ability to add more professional design assets into the system
  • only provides a very basic visual output of the brand book
  • the tool is not inexpensive when considering that it is subscription-based
  • does not allow the user to manage different brand books in one system and only allows for the creation of one brand
  • book.

Venture

 

Venture brand book

Description: Venture is an online platform for creating brand personality & voice, and visual identity. It combines an array of online tools, such as a logo maker (lhttp://logojoy.com), style guide builder (brandbuilder.ai), Canva, and more to provide greater accessibility to the entire process.
Target audience: entrepreneurs
Pricing: £250 (pounds)

Pros:

  • offers a wide-ranging solution to the entrepreneur and supports both the written and visual sides of the brand;
  • guides the user through an easy step by step wizard;
  • offers good value for money.

Cons:

  • it is not built for designers
  • does not allow uploading of more professional assets into the system
  • does not allow the user to manage multiple brand books.

BrandBuilder

 

brandbuilder review

Description: BrandBuilder is an online brand book builder that includes an option for uploading your own logo. The platform offers
an intuitive and visually pleasing UI that helps you choose your colors, fonts, and basic visual identity. BrandBuilder also creates a business card with an option to insert different names, allowing users to start their business with all the essentials
Target audience: entrepreneurs
Pricing: $9-$19/month
Pros:

  • offers a simple and intuitive wizard that requires no technical or designer skills
  • guides users through the basic needs of the brand 
  • offers a built-in logo maker

Cons:

  • the tool offers an option to add your own logo, yet it does not allow you to include your own design elements, icons, etc. therefore not catering to designers at all;
  • offers no guidance on how to use or not to use a logo;
  • offers no option for adding your mockups or any system;
  • generated mockups;
  • is only a fairly simple brand style guide.

Bynder

bynder design comparison

Description: Digital asset management software like Frontify support marketing and creative teams in collaborating when creating and managing all brand and marketing materials. The main purpose of these tools is to help brand and marketing managers from medium to large companies to manage the file-sharing of graphic elements, photos, and videos with partners and clients. The platforms are an upgrade to the basic dropbox or any other file sharing tool with additional features to cater to the branding field.
Target audience: marketing and creative teams
Pricing: wide ranging from $29-$275/month for a single brand
Pros:

  • offer a full solution for large companies that need to use a large number of graphic files;
  • offer full file management providing dedicated file links with different file sharing options;
  • creative agencies can create templates in the system for brand managers to edit and reuse independently;
  • offers workflows that help brand managers to manage the creative process done by creative agencies.

Cons:

  • digital asset management tools are too robust for small businesses to handle – you need a brand manager, creative agency, strategy planner, etc. to get good use from them;
  • as an end-to-end solution, these tools require the whole company to manage all of its marketing files and flows through the same system, which is a big decision to make;
  • the tools are not suited to designers but more oriented towards brand managers
  • not suitable for managing or creating multiple brands.

Canva

bynder design comparison

Description: Canva is a web-based design tool for all graphic products, offering templates ranging from flyers and resumes to brochures and business cards, including brand guidelines templates and a logo generator.
Target audience: entrepreneurs and small business owners
Pricing: $10/month

Pros:

  • Canva is a smart and intuitive tool for entrepreneurs allowing them to easily select templates, and to personalize and finalize them into printable or digital products
  • Templates can be filtered by basic brand settings
  • A good tool for entry-level designers wanting to gain a little experience in the design field

Cons:

  • creating a brand guideline based on one of the Canva templates was not easy even for a seasoned designer like myself;
  • the Canva drag and drop tool kept me focused on how I was designing the layout of the brand book and not necessarily on the right branding information to include;
  • the process of populating the brand book was time-intensive because the templates did not take into account the logo uploaded, and did not add value by manipulating it.

Flipsnack

canva comparison

Description: Flipsnack is a drag and drop design tool for creating catalogs, flyers, magazines, and brochures. After creating a design or uploading a ready-made design, you can share and embed it online, transforming your PDF into online flipping books o target audience: magazine publishers, marketers, designers 
Pricing: $14-$79/month 
Pros: 

  • Flipsnack offers a drag and drop online tool with a few brand book templates to start with ▪ the templates can guide designers showing the graphic information needed and what to consider when creating a brand book ▪ templates are a 100% customizable 
  • Compared to InDesign or other page design and layout tools, Flipsnack allows for easy online deployment with no additional skills required 

Cons: 

  •  You will still need to create your own logo proportions and clear space logic, save all logo variations and misuses, decide on colors and then lookup their equivalent in RGB, CMYK and Pantone 
  • Flipsnack does not help to verbally explain the different aspects of the brand;

Tailor Brands 

tailorbrands disadvantages

Description: Tailor Brands is an online logo maker machine that offers the extra feature of brand guidelines. When completing a logo design you are offered a few extra guidelines that act as an initial brand book for the brand owner
Target audience: entrepreneurs
Pricing: $4-$16/month or $40/single purchase
Pros
  • for designers that use logo makers for their clients, this tool is 100% automatic and does not require any input;
  • the tool presents logos for different products and eliminates the need to create mockups.

Cons:   

  • The tool does not empower the designer and is much more suited for entrepreneurs who do not know where to start;
  • The tool is a locked playgarden and does not allow the user to upload their own logo or any brand assets;
  • The final output is a very simplified guideline for the brand.
You can tell, most brandbook tools aren’t perfect, but there’s a lot of good news.
 

Corebook

corebook pros and cons

Description: Corebook is an online drag and drop website builder for the sole purpose of presenting brand style guides. The result is similar to a regular website with simplified elements dedicated to the different branding components. The strongest point of Corebook is that knowing most people do not like to read long texts they offer built-in text-to-speech AI and put a lot of weight on the sound aspect of a brand. Many sections of Corebook do not apply to designers but rather to the informative side of a brand.
Target audience: brand creators and brand owners
Pricing: free for the creator, a hefty $450/year for the brand owner
Pros:
  • allows the user to create a widespread brand website with unlimited sections and information that can be added;
  • offers an AI text-to-speech tool that allows users to listen to the brand book while doing other stuff;
  • links can be private or public;
  • Corebook includes limited automatic features to help the designer like 3 automated misuse cases for the logo and a simplified clear space option 
  • allows the user to create a short or long brand book according to your needs;
  • you can manage multiple brand books.

Cons:

  • Corebook undervalues the aesthetic side of the brand book and focuses more on the informative side 
  • the tool is a very complicated builder that does not save you time on creating the brand book but will give you the ability to create an online digital book that will act as a brand “Wikipedia”
  • Corebook’s UI is not easy to follow – it took me time to understand what the options are and how to use them
  • the tool does not help with asset creation
  • you cannot download an offline version

 

So, why I love brand book builders?

As a designer, you spend a lot of time creating a great brand system for your client who cannot wait to get started. The final step is to create a brand book with clear
brand guidelines so that your client and everyone in their team knows how to use your work. The final step of creating a brand book however often feels like a time-consuming and repetitive chore.

Designers know the value of a brand book because no one wants their clients to mess up their designs. And yet manually designing brand books takes time and
effort, even if it is not you but one of your team working on it.
Try Gingersauce for free. We poured a lot of expeirence and work into it – and hopefully, resolved the majority of cons, described here.
 
gingersauce
 

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