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5.3 PROJECT: Going Digital: Creating a Brand Toolbox

Hi, guys. So you're now and expert in creating a comprehensive brand identity. You've designed a logo, icon, brand type, a color palette, shapes and graphics, and pulled all that together into a brand guidelines document which we created in the last lesson. Now you may be thinking, what else is there to do? I'm a brand master. But I'm going to show you a couple of options in this lesson for how you can extend your visual brand into the digital world. So, what do I mean by the digital world? Is it not enough that I can share my brand guidelines PDF over email or on a website? Well sure, you can and that's great. But if you really want to push the boat out, you can look into creating an online brand toolbox for employees for your company. So what are the advantages of creating a brand toolbox? Well first, it should be noted that this is common practice among medium to large companies with a reasonably large employee base. You might not need a brand toolbox for a freelancing business, but a client may well ask you to provide one for them. So it's good to know what they are and how you can go about creating one. An online toolbox allows a company to exert more control over who has access to brand files like logo files, via an optional log in system. The company may choose to only allow say, the marketing team to access the toolbox, but for other employees it might be out of bounds. And this allows the company to control more closely who uses those brand elements and how they use them. An online toolbox is also really convenient. It's one easy to access place where employees can get hold of logo files, color palettes, and photo files instantly. And it's also really easy to share. If the company wants to contract outside work, they can share access to the toolbox via an online link and password. So architects, interior designers, graphic designers, they can all access the company's brand assets without the need for waiting to download heavy files over email or large file transfer. This improves the efficiency of the brand and it provides ready-made brand assets instantly to contractors as ready-made files. We won't be creating an online toolbox in this lesson, but I want us to both browse together online and I'll show you some examples and some options for developing your own brand toolbox. So, open up a new window on your Internet browser and have that alongside the video as we go. Okay, so brand toolboxes fall into three categories, and each have their own advantages and are uniquely suited to a company's particular needs. First, we have the option of the toolbox being hosted on a specialist file hosting website, which is separate to the brand's own website. So a really basic example might be something like Dropbox. If your brand is for a small-scale company, Dropbox is a budget friendly option for sharing brand files. So, that's at dropbox.com. I'm sure you've probably come across Dropbox before, but it's a great place to start for hosting a simple brand toolbox. So you simply create a folder, like I've done here, upload your files, such as the logo and different color ways and file formats, and the ASE color palettes. And then you can invite other colleagues to join that Dropbox. It's super easy to do and works really well. Dropbox isn't the only option for hosting brand files cheaply and easily, but it's one of the best known. You could also check out sync.com, which is a Canadian company offering very similar file hosting services to Dropbox. Or what about trying out Google Drive which is at drive.google.com? This only needs all the participants to have a Google account. The second option for creating an online brand toolbox is to approach a specialist brand toolbox company to create a portal for your brand. The advantage of this is that these guys are specialists in creating and hosting complex brand toolboxes. Brandtoolbox.com.au is an Australian company who does just that. And you can see from this case study for RMIT University that their brand toolbox is pretty advanced. It's got all sorts of different photography assets, logos, signage artwork, plus lots of detailed advice on how to use every element of their brand. In this case, it's more than just a brand toolbox. It acts as an interactive brand guidelines document. The RMIT toolbox itself has a secure login page which allows the company to control exactly who has access to all this brand material. So this option is really for clients who have the budget and the size to justify approaching a company to create a specialist toolbox for them. The third option for creating an online tool box is, you guessed it, to do it yourself. This is a great idea if you have time on your hands, as well as some half decent web design skills. The advantage of this is that firstly, you have complete control about how that toolbox will be presented. Where it will be hosted, so you can host it as part of your own website. And also, how it's gonna be edited in the future, which will all be down to you. MailChimp's brand toolbox is a nice little example of this sort of approach. They host a simple easy to use brand asset toolbox on their own website with logos, their Freddy monkey mascot, and an ASC file of all their brand colors. For certain companies like MailChimp, it doesn't always feel necessary to provide a secure log in for your brand assets. If your brand has a more casual startup vibe and you'd like to encourage consumers and press to access your brand elements easily, this is absolutely fine. If you're not a talented web developer quite yet, there are other options for this DIY approach to a brand toolbox. So head over to themeforest.net, and you'll find a range of suitable WordPress themes for adapting to your own toolbox purposes. Let's take a look. So click here on WordPress and search within this portfolio minimal. You won't find many themes specially adapted to brand toolboxes, but I think that Minimal Portfolio style designs could easily be adapted to create a simple easy to use toolbox. Something like BLoC is nice. It's simple, grid-based. You could have a download link for logo files here, one here for color palettes. Or something like the Lamark theme might be a good pick, too. You can adapt these themes to suit your own purpose, and create an online toolbox that not only integrates with the brand's website, but is going to be in a preferred style of your choice. So let's review those three options for creating an online brand toolbox. So you can choose a simple file-hosting site like Dropbox or Sync to upload your brand files to and share the folder link with colleagues or clients. It's a non-customizable but also a low cost option for smaller businesses. You can approach a specialist brand toolbox company to create a custom toolbox that is perfectly suited to the brand's needs. But note that this option is probably only realistic for bigger companies with big branding budgets. Or you can choose to DIY your brand toolbox by either developing a site from scratch or adapting a WordPress theme, and integrate this into the brand's website. This is a great option if you want to give more polish to your brand toolbox, and have more time but less on the money front. As a final exercise for the course, I'd like you to choose one of these three options to develop an online brand toolbox for either the Buzz brand or your own brand identity. Whether you choose a low effort option like Dropbox or the high effort WordPress option, this is gonna be a really satisfying way for you to tie up all the elements you put together in the previous lessons and have them all in one easy to access place. If you can say to clients we are able to produce a brand toolbox for them, as well as doing a brand redesign, you're certainly going to impress. So it's well worth knowing about. Another reason for the increasing demand for brand toolboxes is because more and more brands are moving increasingly into the digital sphere, and some exist only online. Therefore, these brands need accessible brand assets for using in web design and social media. The fact that they can get everything they need for their websites via an online toolbox is hugely convenient. You also need to take this into consideration, that is, how your brand will adapt to digital media. We've already created brand assets that can easily be adapted to web design and social media, such as a logo, an icon, shapes, and type, which we've already checked come available as web fonts. Before I conclude this lesson, I just want to share with you my quick checklist for making sure that I have everything in my brand ready for translating to digital design. Before you share your brand toolbox with others, make sure some or all of these things are also included. So you want some PNG formats of logos and icons with transparent backgrounds, an essential for placing on headers and web banners. Plus, you also want some easily resizable vector formats. You want your logos and other brand assets set in RGB colors, not CMYK or Pantone. You also want to provide hex code values for all your brand colors that are ready to be applied to websites and email newsletters. And it's also a good idea to provide links to the brand web fonts on Google Fonts, which you can find over at google.com/fonts. If you include some or all of these with your brand toolbox, you'll never have any complaints from your web developer or social media manager. I promise. Congratulations, you've taken your brand digital, and in the process you've become a complete expert in creating and building brand identities. Fantastic work. In the final lesson, we'll review everything that you've learned in the course, review our brand checklist, and discuss how you can evolve your role to become a brand enforcer. So congratulations again, guys, that's a lot of work. See you in just a moment for the final lesson of the course, and a well deserved clap on the back.

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