Use This Tool as the Foundation for Your Brand Strategy: Brand Style Boards Defined & Explained

Designers use all sorts of fancy language these days, and if you don’t work in the industry it can be hard to keep up with all the lingo and sift through the noise about what is and isn’t necessary when it comes to crafting an effective branding strategy.

So in today’s post I’m walking you through the anatomy of a typical brand board, decoding all the designer speak, and addressing why a brand guide is the foundation of a killer visual strategy.

Let’s dive in:

Primary & Secondary Logos

Although having a well-designed logo does not suffice as a brand strategy by itself, they are absolutely essential to increasing brand recognition and clarity. Think of a logo as the foundation of a house. No one is going to look at the foundation and say it’s an incredible, functioning house, but you also can’t have a functioning house without laying the slab first.

As its name implies, a primary logo is the logo used on your branded materials the majority of the time. This is the logo you want top of mind when people think about your brand. A secondary logo is a logo variation that is focused on versatility. While it incorporates several of the same elements seen in the primary logo, the secondary logo often adds visual interest and variety by appearing in a different layout than the primary logo. Let’s use these two logos for Under the Sun Candle Collective as an example. While the primary and secondary logo share several of the same elements (fonts, color palette), the layout of the primary logo is stacked, while the secondary logo is horizontal.


A visually abbreviated graphic, often incorporating the major element of your main logo in a smaller form. These are great for stamps, signatures, and marketing collateral where the main logo doesn’t fit. Below is a submark that could potentially work as a Favicon, if it were made smaller.


This is the teeny tiny little image that appears on the browser tab of a website. Instagram’s favicon is shown below. These are a great way to add branded elements to your website in order to promote visual cohesion and consistency. Favicons and submarks are often simplified versions of your logos.

Brand Patterns/Graphic Elements

These are the designs that you want to appear throughout your branding. Perhaps you own a salon and your branding pattern includes cartoon scissors forming a repeating background. Or maybe you own a yoga studio and you want to incorporate lotus flowers throughout your marketing material. These elements serve as a great way for you to further define your brand and add visual interest.

Font Suite

Oh so very important, the font suite includes your 2-3 brand fonts that will be used consistently and exclusively throughout your branded materials. Sticking to no more than 3 fonts is recommended for brand clarity and consistency.

Color Palette

Choosing and sticking to a color palette that represents you and resonates with the audience you serve is so, so crucial to successful branding. Select 5-6 specific colors and stick to them throughout your marketing efforts.

Mood board or inspiration images

These can stand on their own or be incorporated into the style guide itself. Mood boards are a collage or collection of inspirational images that reflect your brand’s ideal style and represent the creative direction you would like to take a project in. Pinterest is a great starting place for mood board inspiration and creation.

So now that you know what all of the elements are, why do you need one of these boards, anyway?

Consistency is the #1 driving force for increasing brand recognition and for creating clarity around your offerings. If you are creating randomly and not strategically you are at a high risk of confusing your audience, hindering your brand recognition, and producing work that is of lower quality.

Brand style boards are an incredible launching point for ensuring your branding is consistent across all channels (and looks really dang good for that matter!)

Humans, as default, are extraordinarily visual creatures and studies on consumer behavior consistently tell us that identity design matters in purchasing decisions and in creating customer loyalty.

Want more examples of brand boards in action? Click here to check out the portfolio.

Interested in creating a brand style guide for your business? Let’s set up a consult to talk about how adding some brand magic to your biz can increase your bottom line.