Standing out from the competition isn’t only about being flashy; it’s also about consistency. Sure, your company needs a strong tagline and sharp logo, but to achieve brand recognition with your target audiences takes time and the consistent presentation of your brand’s voice and tone, as well as its look and feel — its personality, in short. Multiple teams are involved in this effort, which is why you need a brand identity kit.
Building a brand identity kit is a crucial step to presenting and upholding your brand image consistently. It needs to give teams what they require to present your brand across all channels. It should explain logo usage, color profile do’s and don’ts, and messaging — just to name a few crucial components. Once complete, you’ll have a powerful tool to share with freelancers, agencies, internal teams, and anyone else responsible for sharing your brand with the world. (In fact, seasoned professionals are likely to ask for a brand identity kit before they start any project.)
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need in a brand identity kit by answering these questions:
- What is a brand identity kit?
- How does it differ from brand guidelines?
- What essentials must you include in yours?
- Where do you store your brand kit?
What Is a Brand Kit?
A brand identity kit is a resource containing the rules of your brand and how people should apply it holistically to maintain brand consistency. It should include the most business-critical visual assets and information, such as where to find logos, how to use them, approved color palettes, typography styles, and other visual attributes.
What’s the Difference Between Brand Guidelines and a Brand Kit?
Both brand guidelines and a brand identity kit are used to uphold the consistency of your brand, but they aren’t one and the same. Your brand guidelines are the standards and rules developed by an organization to maintain brand consistency at every touchpoint, while a brand kit includes your brand guidelines along with visual elements of your brand.
Often, brand identity kit, brand guidelines, and brand style guide are used interchangeably, which can be confusing. But they all work together as a set of standards and details to explain how your brand should be communicated –– whether in written, visual, or audio form.
But don’t get too hung up on the labels. The important thing is that you give your teams the framework and resources they need to deliver a consistent, cohesive, and memorable brand experience across all touchpoints.
For more information on developing brand guidelines, check out our handy tips here.
What Does a Brand Identity Kit Include?
Starbucks, Nike, Apple — these are just some of the most recognizable and memorable brands in the world. How’d they get that way? Consistency. You know their logos, taglines, and products because they haven’t deviated in their brands’ visuals, values, and messaging over many years.
When you put together your brand identity kit, you need to include everything that establishes and upholds the integrity of your brand across platforms, channels, audiences, countries, and beyond. We recommend starting with the brand kit essentials below.
Everyone who touches your brand — from creatives to sales managers — needs to understand your target market and why your brand matters to that audience. They need this knowledge to present your brand in a way that will resonate with the intended audience.
Start with a brand positioning statement or concise description of your audience and how you want them to perceive your brand. Keep it simple but memorable, honest, and unique to your market. Then, share your brand promise. What are you committed to delivering to your audience? What aspirations do you vow to work toward?
Lastly, communicate your unique value proposition. Include a detailed explanation or simply include your brand’s tagline. Keep it short but provide enough messaging information to guide someone who’s working on your brand for the first time.
Just like people, brands have characteristics or traits that define who they are. Other companies may share similar characteristics, but none of them are quite like yours.
Capture the key brand qualities that humanize your brand and describe its distinct personality. Take some time to think about your brand as an actual human. How would you describe them to another person? What are your brand’s “always traits” and “never traits?”
In other words, your brand could “always” strive in voice and tone to be optimistic, trustworthy, and witty, but “never” foolish, insulting, or dishonest. Whatever the case, remember that, while your kit or guidelines will memorialize these attributes, it’s important to actually realize them in practice (or people won’t trust your brand).
Logos and Wordmarks
Define proper use instructions for your logos or wordmarks that leave little to no room for interpretation — and stick to these guidelines every time. Start by giving people access to your updated logos and wordmarks in the brand identity kit. Include applicable high-resolution formats (e.g., TIFFs, PNGs, PDFs, and JPEGs).
Also include all logo and wordmark variations like vertical, horizontal, and tagline versions. Protect against incorrect colors, pixelation, and modifications by detailing use cases and instructions. For example, provide standards for white space surrounding your logos and wordmarks. Set limits for how small or large they can appear to avoid unrecognizable or ineffective reproductions.
Lastly, make it visual. Show people what incorrect usage looks like. Seeing how bad a distorted logo or non-complementary background color looks will help drive home the message.
From in-store touchpoints and websites to digital ads and social media channels, the look and feel of your brand has to be consistent. This is called a visual identity, and it’s crucial in the recognition and perception of your brand.
Try putting your brand’s visual identity into words. What mood, feeling, or emotions should your brand elicit from your audience? Be descriptive and provide examples of appropriate visuals, along with general do’s and don’ts for visual treatment. This is your opportunity to highlight acceptable styles for any and all visuals such as lifestyle photos, stock imagery, videos, and graphics. If you favor well-lit, realistic photography over illustrations, make those parameters clear.
And make sure to give people access to your approved brand assets — whether that’s on your website, like Airbnb has, or via a portal to be shared more directly. Your teams and partners absolutely need a digital repository with approved creative to use and reference for inspiration. Give everyone a central place to get up-to-date visual assets (like logos), and it’ll be easier to consistently present your visual brand across every channel and environment.
The colors that represent your brand are what make it instantly recognizable. Take Coca-Cola for example. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t associate red with this global, household brand.
But you can rest assured that Coca-Cola’s brand identity kit doesn’t just say “red.” Rather, they assign a CMYK, RGB, and PMS color code so that everyone uses the perfect Coca-Cola red. As such, your brand identity kit must include your brand’s color identifiers.
Take care to include your brand's primary colors as well as the secondary colors that support and complement your main color palette. Lastly, provide directions on when it's appropriate to use colors, combinations, and palettes.
The fonts you use to communicate your brand contribute to its identity — the people, products, and culture that it embodies. Include your brand font and an approved backup or two in case your font is unavailable in a specific medium or to outside parties.
Some brands, like Netflix, create their own fonts to save money on licensing fees and to represent their brand with a typeface that isn’t seen elsewhere. The BBC, YouTube, Google, and Apple are a few other companies that have also gone this route to distinguish their brand identity.
Using a single typeface across all communications gives your brand — down to the look of the words — consistency. Think through all use cases and provide type treatment guidelines around size, hierarchy, and font-weight. For example, you may want to specify approved font sizes for blog headlines versus subheads and body copy. Or, you may have strict typography rules for advertisements and sales collateral.
Strike a balance; you need to give creatives and marketers some creative freedom to push the envelope but also control for the most critical elements of your brand.
The people you collaborate with will have questions about your brand identity, and that’s a good thing. Include at least one point of contact in your brand identity kit for someone who can answer questions and provide support. Make sure to include their name, email, and phone number, along with details like job title, location, and any special instructions about how to reach them.
Lastly, think strategically about the questions you receive. Often, this feedback signals holes or clarifications that you can use to improve your brand identity kit. When you make it a regular practice to turn this feedback into identity kit updates, you can keep pace with your constantly evolving brand.
Where to Store Your Brand Kit
Once you’ve created your brand identity kit, make sure it’s available to those who need it. You can provide your kit in any convenient format, such as a shared document or webpage with information and links.
The important thing is that your brand identity kit (and assets) live in a central location that’s easily accessible. The unique needs of your organization will determine the best solution to help you centralize, store, and manage your kit and assets. Many companies rely on a digital asset management (DAM) system as their brand management solution. DAM technology acts as a single source of truth for your content while integrating with other key technologies in your marketing technology (martech) stack to keep your brand consistent across teams and channels.
If you’re looking to take control of your brand, a DAM system is a great place to start. Global brands around the world like Hootsuite, Canon Medical, and Brooks Running all use Acquia DAM to manage their brands across distributed teams and markets. Ready to learn more? Get a free trial here to see how you can use it to build and store your brand identity kit. Or request a demo to speak with one of our advisors.