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Great marketing starts with a great brand. Read our articles below about everything from logos to brand awareness:

Brand Guide vs. Brand Mood Board—Which is Better for Small Business?

Congratulations, you have a business name and a logo! It’s official; you now are responsible for nurturing and protecting your brand. And your graphic designer? He or she is now talking about creating “graphic standards” and documenting them in a Brand Guide. Huh?


The concept of creating brand standards to ensure a consistent brand image makes sense. But do you really need a Brand Guide? Or is there a simpler solution for helping you maintain brand consistency?


Yes! Meet the Brand Mood Board. It’s a slimmed down cousin to the traditional Brand Guide. For new brand owners, it can establish the brand’s basic standards while keeping things simple (i.e., contained to one page).


Example of Brand Mentoring’s Brand Mood Board




Basic Elements of a Brand Guide or Brand Mood Board

Whichever format you chose, the basic elements you should address include

  • Summary of logo assets

  • Color palette  

  • Visual style

  • Typefaces


In a Brand Guide, you will be able to dive deeper on your logo standards since you have more real estate than on a Brand Mood Board. Think of the Brand Guide as a complete owner’s manual for everything related to your small business brand. Also, keep in mind that a Brand Guide should be a living document since brand standards will expand over time as new brand scenarios emerge.



Summary of Logo Assets

As a small business owner, expect to have a few logo variations for use in social media and the logo with and without a tagline. Within a Brand Guide, you should include all the images of every logo variation. However, on a Brand Mood Board, you only highlight the most frequently used logo variations, and there won’t be any detailed instructions about logo rules. Within a Brand Guide, there will be greater detail about the logo variations including black and white and reversed versions; standards for the minimum size to use the logo and how to measure the proper amount of white space to maintain around the logo to let it “breath.”



Color Palette  

Since color is an important branding element, it’s critical to have your brand color palette defined within your Brand Guide (or Brand Mood Board) for creating continuity between media (i.e., printing, online and website usage).


Typically, your logo will have one “signature” color and perhaps a secondary or “accent” color. However, you will find that designing everything in just two colors will quickly get monotonous, so it’s important for your palette to have 4-5 other colors in the palette, including neutrals like black, grey or taupe. If you only have your “signature” color defined, download the PANTONE Studio app and use it for suggestions of additional colors to add to your palette.


It’s important to define your brand colors using the Pantone Matching System (PMS), RGB and HEX numbers. If you need a free color conversion calculator, this calculator converts RGB, HEX, CMYK and PMS.  


Sidebar note: Use PMS colors for matching your color in printed scenarios. Use RGB colors for digital applications, like a PowerPoint presentation. Use HEX colors when building a website.



Visual Style

Any brand’s visual style is hard to describe in words. So you need to show the types of graphics and/or photography that aligns with your brand. In Brand Mentoring’s case, we avoid showing faces of happy people (although there is some of this on our website). But mostly we focus on simple, symbolic images all run through the same photography filter to create continuity.


In your Brand Guide or Brand Mood Board, samples of visual style should be included. Don’t try to inventory every approved image, just provide a snapshot (pardon the pun) of your brand’s visual style.




Typography can lend continuity and personality to your brand. You will need at least two typefaces for things like your website to create visual interest. Often a headline typeface and different body copy typeface are the minimum you will need.


Having a third typeface for accent purposes is also helpful. The important thing is to define these typefaces and show examples of them.



Who should use your Brand Guide or Brand Mood Board?

As a small business owner, you will have various stakeholders using your logo and contributing to your brand image. Whether you opt for the abbreviated version of brand standards, such as a Brand Mood Board, or you go all in with a Brand Guide, make it readily available to employees, partners, freelancers, and consultants.


Building your brand will require devotion to consistency, and the last thing you need is a stakeholder going rogue with your brand identity just because he/she didn’t know about your brand standards.


If you have thoughts about brand standards, leave them in the comments area. There are many paths to success, and we love to discover new ways to get there. Wishing you all the best as you build your brand and master your marketing.



About Claire Eby, MBA


After many years as a marketing director, CMO and advertising agency executive, Claire Eby, MBA founded Brand Mentoring, where she helps clients build their brands and master their marketing.


Claire’s clients include small business owners, nonprofit organizations and credentialing organizations like associations. #branding #marketing #influence #brandguides #brandmoodboards


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Contact us for a no-obligation discussion about your marketing concerns. We can also give you a FREE website report showing how visitors find your website vs. competitors.

Brand Mentoring, LLC

Marketing Consulting & Coaching

7900 East Union Ave., Suite 1100

Denver, CO 80237

o: 303.748.8087

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