Brand System
(aka Brand Management System)

"A Brand System provides a visual and conceptual framework for your brand. It helps everyone communicate a consistent brand narrative."

Brand System vs Brand Guidelines vs Design System
What's the difference?

Brand System

A Brand System (aka Brand Management System) is an overarching conceptual and visual framework or foundation for your brand.

Often the brand's founders establish a mission, a vision ("the Why"), and an operating "style" for the brand.

Later brand consultants, professional designers, and the marketing team develop this into a formal "brand system".

A brand system attempts to capture and document both "the Why", and the visual and non-visual elements of the brand. The brand system is essentially the operating instructions for the brand as a whole.

A brand system encompasses, "the Why" of the brand (the brand narrative), Brand Assets, Brand Guidelines and a Design System. Platforms like Brandkit® can be used to capture and share a brand system.

Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines are a set of rules about how your brand should be visually represented.

They are almost always included as an element of the Brand System.

They can be a simple overview showing your logo suite and brand colours, to extensive documents detailing your brand personality and photography style.

They are created after your brand identity has been designed, to ensure a consistent visual language across any assets created within your company and externally.

They are often used by graphic designers when creating printed materials, signage and product packaging.

Most established brands have brand guidelines, in PDF form (typically), but many are evolving to web based equivelents in platforms like Brandkit®

Design System

A design system is a set of design components for websites, derived from Brand Guidelines.

In its simplest form a design system will include logos and icons, a colour palette, fonts, and a CSS style guide.

The goal of a design system is similar to brand guidelines – to ensure a consistent visual identity, but in this case online.

Few brands have a "design system" today (as defined here) and many rely on Brand Guidelines when engaging web designers. However over time, as new website projects inevitably arise, brands are creating a "design system".

Today solutions like Figma, InDesign, Adobe, etc are specialised web design platforms that support design systems.

The elements of a brand system

A brand system is a collection of elements that make up a cohesive and meaningful unit. Often a brand system is made up of different visual and verbal expressions of a brand’s promise.

  1. Language – this includes the mission, vision, and tone
  2. Logo – how and where to use different variations of the brand mark
  3. Colors – primary and secondary palettes and levels of usage
  4. Typography – organized font hierarchies
  5. Imagery (photography & illustration) – consistent artwork styles
  6. Iconography – sets of symbols that help to identify parts of the brand
  7. Graphic treatments – guidelines for combining all of the above elements (e.g., for printed collateral)
  8. Data visualization – examples of how basic and complex data are displayed
  9. Interactive elements – options for use on digital experiences
  10. Video and motion – using styles from the imagery category for any moving images

From the commercial world, Airbnb’s recent rebrand is a good example of elements and components created and organized as a brand system. It strikes a balance between consistency and vibrancy needed for their broad set of audiences and offerings.

Is Brandkit® a Brand System?

No. Brandkit is NOT a Brand System. Your brand system is your unique brand concept and content. It's how you conceptualise, visualise and talk about your brand.

Brandkit® is a Brand Asset Management System (see definition below).

We are a digital home for your Brand System. A single source of truth accessible by everyone who needs access to your Brand System, your Brand Story, your Brand Narative, your Brand Assets, and your Brand Guidelines.

Think of us as the digital toolkit for your Brand System.

What is a Brand Asset Management System?

"A Brand Asset Management System is a repository of approved brand resources, the brand narrative, brand assets (such as logos, images, video and other content), brand guidelines, and tools to deploy a recognisable brand identity, and tell a consistent brand story."

A Brand Asset Management System enables the storage, curation, organization, retrieval, and distribution of brand assets or brand content to approved brand users. A Brand Asset Management System is a component of a Brand System / Brand Management System, therefore Brand Asset Management Systems have become a core component of the Marketing Software Stack.

"In a world obsessed and driven by content and sharing, often by people outside the marketing team, good Brand Asset Management practices are vital, in order for brand managers to scale their brands globally and maintain control of brand messaging and content."

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Statistics above last updated 1 Feb 2023