How to Create a Branding Board in Canva
What is a Branding Board?
A branding board is a document that contains a collection of visual elements which represent your brand including fonts, colors, logo, and inspiration images. I create branding boards for all my web projects so that I can easily find a hex code or font while I’m working on my own projects and so that if I hire someone to create a workbook, flier or another project, they can use the branding board to keep their work consistent with the brand. Customers and visitors appreciate branding even when they don’t notice it; they expect to see consistency from page to page and even in email communications.
Design Your Brand Now
In this tutorial, we’ll cover how to create a branding board for your site or business quickly using Canva, a free online tool I use every day for my businesses. Although Canva has a paid subscription option, it’s not necessary to create beautiful branding boards. The time required to complete the tutorial varies based on how long you take to select fonts and colors; estimated completion time is 1-2 hours.
Branding with Five Colors
Today I’ll be showing you how to create a branding board like this one for my flamingo-themed shop. As you can see, my branding board contains a logo, an inspiration image, fonts used for the logo and on the site, and five hex colors. While there’s no set number of colors one must choose for a branding board, I generally like to use five for these purposes:
- Primary color: Used all over the site for row backgrounds, sometimes for the header color, for drop shadows and lines and accents and boxes. Not a link color.
- Secondary color: Used for headers and typically for links.
- Text: Paragraph text color.
- Footer color: I like to use a dark background for the footer and sometimes for various rows and boxes within the site. Not a link color.
- CTA color: This is the most important color! CTA means “call to action.” This color should be obsequious and bold, a real stand-out because it is the color visitors only see when there is something for them to do: The Big Thing you want them to click on. This is the color used for the button or link that will move the visitor further along in your funnel: Buy Now, Subscribe, Opt-In, Add to Cart – these are examples of CTAs. I like to use the CTA color as the hover color for links as well.
A Few Tips Before We Begin
- Make decisions quickly. It’s tempting to page through dozens of pages of images or icons or spend an entire afternoon geeking out about fonts. I know this from experience. Set yourself a limit of 5 minutes to select each item and stick to it. Every single element you select can be changed later.
- Use free fonts. Really! Try the ones in Canva. All the ones I used for the example are Google Fonts that are available readily in Canva. Incidentally, Google Fonts are 100% free for commercial use! Again, you can re-brand later, but for now, let’s get your brand established quickly.
- Be careful about image licensure. Search for images you know may be used for commercial purposes without attribution. Sites like Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels have an abundance of such images. As for stock image sites, be careful. I recently spent over $300 total getting the extended license I needed for a design I had my designer create for print-on-demand! The stock photo site got paid more than my designer did. I suggest Freepik as a source of stock images. Use some images free with attribution if you wish, but the power is in the premium subscription which costs a mere $9 per month. For this nominal fee, I get to download all the images I wish and use them for commercial purposes without attribution.
- Don’t overthink the logo! Friends, we need to have a bit of a “come to Jesus” moment about logos. I need you to trust me on this one. Your site or online shop will do just fine with a simple logo that you can make yourself. Just. Fine. Once you make some money and you’ve gotten too big for your britches, consider having it professionally redone. But go look at so many major brands and their logo is what? Text! Follow the directions, create a simple text logo or one with text and an icon, and move along.
- Need help with inspiration? Canva provides stunning inspiration photos with matching palettes. Browse these 20 inspiring examples.
Let’s Get Started!
Step 1: Create the Board as a Project in Canva
The first step is to create or open your Canva account (free). Create a new A4 project. Click on the title in the top bar and name your project. Then, use the tab menus on the left to choose Elements → Grids.
Step 2: Add the Color Swatch Grid
Scroll down in the list of grids till you see five frames in a horizontal row. Click it. The frame appears and fills the whole project. Use the handles to drag the grid into a bar shape at the bottom. I normally use rectangles and leave room for adding some text overlays.
Here I’ve resized the bar and positioned it at the bottom of the project.
Step 3: Add an Inspiration Image
Now it’s time for the inspiration image. While you can add another grid with a collage of many inspiration images, I chose just one. Search the graphics sites listed above and time yourself to make at least one selection within a short amount of time. I found this gorgeous flamingo art by Soorelis on Pixabay after just a few minutes.
Download your selection (and the license, if applicable). In Canva, click Uploads → Upload your own images. Upload the image. Click on the image thumbnail and place the image where you want it on the canvas.
Step 4: Logo
I selected a line drawing icon of a flamingo and sun on Freepik to use for my logo. An icon isn’t necessary, but I wanted one for this particular application. Freepik provided this icon as a vector, which is the subject of another tutorial. You can find icons and images on Canva by searching. Some are free and some cost $1. Just be aware that if you pay them $1, you’ll have to pay it again every time you edit your project. If you find an icon, upload it to Canva and add it to your canvas. Resize the icon and drag it to place it on the canvas.
Click Text → Add heading. The heading will appear on the canvas. Drag it into position and choose a font from the list. If you want to use another font, you must create an image of it in an image editing program and upload it as an image and add it that way. This activity isn’t in the scope of this tutorial. I selected Amatic SC from the list because it’s a font that resembles a flamingo’s long legs. Don’t worry about the text color at this time.
Click Text → Add Subheading and select the font. In this case, I chose Architects Daughter (and yes, the English major in me wonders where the apostrophe is in that font name). I also increased the letter spacing for the subheading (on the white text bar).
Drag a box around the logo elements to select them and then click “Group” on the toolbar to group them. Once grouped, the elements in the logo are stuck together and can be moved as one. You’ll still be able to click on the text to change the font or text color. At this point, I position the logo where I would like it to be (in this case, center aligned).
Step 5: Picking the Brand Colors
Picking colors is always the most fun step for me. I usually start by generating a suggested palette, then I refine the colors using a color picker. Keep in mind that we’re picking colors with purpose: primary, secondary, text, footer, and CTA with CTA being the most important color.
Canva itself provides a handy color palette generator. Upload your inspiration image and click the Generate button to see a suggested palette of colors. Sometimes Canva hits it out of the park, but in this case, I’m a little underwhelmed by the suggested colors, so I won’t keep them. I mean, I’m a bright color person. Oh my gosh, I’m a flamingo! What better time to realize it? Hmmm… moving right along…
Next up is a site called Image Color Picker. Upload your inspiration image and then click anywhere in the image to get the precise hex color under your cursor.
Once you start finding colors you like, copy the 6-character hex code from Image Color Picker, then switch back to Canva. Click in the cell on the color swatch bar and then click the color picker icon on the white toolbar. Click the + sign, then click on the color swatch square, then paste the hex code into the color code field.
During this phase, I use a site called Paletton to generate similar and opposite colors and to play around with hues and shades. Paletton can be used to find lighter or darker versions of the same color, or toggle from monochromatic to contrast to see a mini-palette of the contrasting color. Sometimes I use this to determine the CTA color, but not often. Here, I’m entering the hex code for my bright pink color into the small and somewhat hard-to-find field in the lower left.
Click on the “add complementary” toggle to see some contrast options, which means that it shows you a small selection of colors that are exactly the opposite as your selected color on the color wheel. In this case, I don’t want to use the green. I chose a yellow-orange similar to the sun in my logo.
Another helpful thing you can do with Paletton is using the color points in the center of the wheel to find a shade that doesn’t clash with another color in your palette. I chose one of the standard gray colors in Canva for my text and it looked awful, so instead, I used Paletton for this task. First I entered my dark purple as the base color, then I dragged the center points around till I found a gray based on the purple that I liked. Shown here in monochromatic mode, I chose one of the grays on the edge to use in my project.
Here is my finished color bar selection.
Step 6: Fonts
We already chose some fonts for the logo. Now it’s time to choose some fonts for the body text and headings. These can be different from the logo fonts. In most cases, I do prefer not to use my logo fonts elsewhere unless it’s for a course title or something special.
Most, but not all, of the Canva fonts are Google Fonts. You can browse or search the Google Fonts repository, and when you find one you like, do a separate online search for “font pairings Raleway,” except with the name of the font you like. There’s something for every single font in the repository. As it turns out, my fonts are available in Canva.
Use the text tools to add a sample of each font to your branding board. Here, I’ve changed the colors in my logo to colors from my palette and also used them in my samples. Use the text tools to add the purpose of each color to its cell and to add its hex color value. Use your brand fonts and colors for all text.
Step 7: Download and Save the Branding Board
Congratulations! Your branding board should be a thing of beauty right about now. I think mine is! The last step is to download your branding board. I like to backup all branding, licenses, and images in Google Drive and I recommend this to you. This project will be the basis of many projects to come. I use my branding board every time I open a project to create a new graphic, and I share the board with designers I hire for various project design work, too.
Choose Download from the top bar and select PNG if you’d like to share your board as an image, or pick one of the PDF options if you like. I also recommend sharing your hard work! You’ve earned a little praise!
Please Come Again
If this tutorial helped you, I hope you’ll consider pinning it on Pinterest! Be sure to check back for more great training.