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What is a Brand System and 4 Steps To Create One

December 08, 2022
What is a Brand System and 4 Steps To Create One

Branding is what makes your company stand out against its competition. The term “brand” is a marketing concept that defines a business through a combination of tangible and intangible qualities. A strong brand is memorable, easy to recognize, and strongly associated with the company and its products.

Visuals are an essential component of your brand. Appealing visuals help you stand out, and people tend to have a stronger recall of images than text. That said, your visual appeal should be a top priority for your marketing team, including fonts, logos, color palettes, and website design.

The real victory comes when you can successfully combine both the visual and verbal (i.e., textual) components of branding to impact your target audience.

Brand System Definition

A brand system is an organized set of visual and verbal items that comprise all or part of your company’s brand. It is a tool that communicates your brand’s personality to your audience and tells them what your business is all about.

Here are some brand system examples that demonstrate what these components are:

  • Color: The way that hues are used in your brand’s visuals
  • Imagery: The style of artwork that appears in your brand’s visuals
  • Logo: The brand logo, as well as how and where it is used
  • Typography: The way that different font types are used in marketing
  • Iconography: Any symbols that are associated with the brand
  • Language: Element of written expression including tone and phrasing

The terms “brand system” and “brand identity” are often discussed together. While both concepts are similar, the main difference between them is that a brand’s identity usually focuses on the visual branding elements that are customer-facing. A brand system, in comparison, is all-encompassing, including both textual and visual elements as applied to the whole business.

Branding System Deliverables

Brand systems are flexible and created to meet the organization’s current needs while ensuring scalability. However, some deliverables are consistently a part of design systems. These include:

  • Communication Pillar: The communication framework that is used to communicate or send messages
  • Naming: A unique name to identify your business or a name change if you are considering a rebranding
  • Competitor Analysis: A clear view of the other options your target audience has  that will also help you to develop an attention-grabbing branding strategy
  • Brand Strategy: A plan for presenting the brand to the target market in a way that achieves desired results
  • Identity Design: A clear company identity that you create to provide something to clients and prospective clients to bond with

The most important deliverable that comes from taking the time to build a brand design system is consistency. No matter who, where, or how the engagement occurs, a brand system ensures that textual and visual elements will add to the experience.

Brand System Example – AirBnB

You don’t need behind-the-scenes access to identify examples of brand systems that you can use for inspiration. There are many brands that successfully combine the components of a brand system to reach their target audiences.

Among several brand system examples, one strong instance of this is found with Airbnb. The vacation rental company reaches one of the most varied audiences that a business targets. The brand’s reach includes:

  • Business travelers
  • Budget travelers
  • Luxury travelers
  • Families
  • Adults
  • Retirees

Their reach extends all over the globe as well.

It would be virtually impossible to create an engaging brand under those circumstances with a single logo, color scheme, and set of brand content. If you view Airbnb’s advertisements and marketing content, you will find an array of visual and verbal content elements, depending on who is being targeted and where, but among all of it is an undeniable consistency.

How does this work? That combination of flexibility and consistency is a byproduct of a well-designed brand system. Airbnb takes its design and branding systems so seriously that it created a proprietary design language system, which emerged when the company redesigned the Airbnb app.

Benefits of a Branding System

Why do you need a brand system? A brand system impacts all of your channels online and off, helping you establish your brand with a consistent presence that marries visual and textual elements. No matter how people engage with your company, they will have a cohesive, connected experience.

Once the system is in place, you will have the tools you need to grow and change that experience as your business grows and evolves. As such, any branding changes you make will subsequently be easier for your customers, employees, and the public to process.

How to Create a Branding System in 4 Steps

At one point, most companies could create a brand that could last for decades. In some cases, a brand could last the lifetime of a business with very few changes. That’s no longer the case. Companies that wish to stay relevant must be able to make adjustments to their branding in a scalable manner.

You can accomplish scalability if you create a branding system that allows you to organize, share, and organize the elements that make up your brand. Follow these steps to do that:

    1. Gather Your Brand Elements


Brand systems aren’t simply about creating visuals or text. Instead, their purpose is to organize these elements to ensure consistency and facilitate future changes.

Before anything else, you must gather all elements that will become part of your brand system. Doing so can be a challenging process, as these assets may be stored in multiple places, and you may have different versions of them.

    1. Create a Style Guide


A style guide should serve as the foundation of your brand system and contain the visual assets that will be used to communicate your branding, including typography, logos, color palettes, icons, branding voices, and customer personas, along with the guidelines for using all of these.

These resources and assets should be shared and available to anyone who makes use of them to ensure consistency.

Once the style guide is in place, all teams within the organization will be able to create advertisements, corporate communications, social media posts, signage, marketing content, and other items quickly while complying with branding guidelines.

    1. Select a Distributed Marketing Tool


With a distributed marketing tool, you can store, manage, and share the most recent, unchangeable version of your brand assets. Such a tool can act as a library of brand elements that can be used across the organization. As long as the tool is kept up-to-date, it is a reliable repository for your latest logos, fonts, and other visual elements. This all makes managing your brand across departments a significantly easier task.

    1. Future-Proof with a Brand System


A brand system will allow you to nurture and protect your brand as it is now, and that’s valuable for any organization that wants to provide consistent, quality experiences. Additionally, and more importantly, a brand system creates a roadmap for evolving brands over time.