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How to use patterns in branding

Patterns can be a great way to take your project to the next level, communicate the brand message and add more personality to your work

When you work on a branding project, be it for a client or to practice your skills, it’s very important to develop assets that go with the brand to make it complete. More than just a logo, you need to think about your colour palette, typography, illustration style, stationery… And the list goes on. Presenting these, as well as the brand, definitely takes your project to the next level.

One very great option to complement your brand is to create a pattern that can be applied in many other assets, such as business cards, website, social media posts etc. This pattern can be created from the logo elements (using the symbol, for example), typography, illustrations or more abstract shapes. Or everything combined! You can even create different patterns for different elements of your brand (e.g. one for each service the brand offers).

The important thing is to keep it consistent with your brand. It needs to have a style that matches your logo and tone of voice, something you look and immediately say “that’s from that brand”. Let’s look at some examples:

1. Logo element

Upholder Brand Identity by Kylie Sky Souza

Upholder Brand Identity by Kylie Sky Souza

Your pattern can be as simple as repeating the brand’s symbol several times. It works well for simpler symbols such as the one above, that when put together form a seamless pattern that can be applied to various assets. You can also combine the symbol in a way to form different elements or use the symbol combined with the initial, for example.

2. Typography

Weskout - Branding System by The Lab Studio

Weskout – Branding System by The Lab Studio

Text can be a creative way to create your pattern. It can be as simple as repeating the first letter of your brand’s name, or repeating the name in full. You can also use a typographic pattern to express your brand’s tone of voice and talk a little bit about what they offer, as in the example above. Just make sure you use this kind of pattern more for details, as it can be too busy if the layout already has text and photos in it.

3. Illustration

Casso Brewery Logo and Brand Pattern by Tamara Alexander

Casso Brewery Logo and Brand Pattern by Tamara Alexander

Patterns with illustrations can give you brand more character. The example above has illustrations inspired by Picasso to complement the brewery brand, that also has its name inspired by the artist. It’s a very creative way to tell a story and show the brand’s personality. You can play with more neutral, similar tones to use it as a background, or with more contrasting colours if you want it to stand out alone.

4. Abstract

Cloud Atlas by Alex Spenser

Cloud Atlas by Alex Spenser

Abstract patterns are one of the most common types of pattern used in branding. They are versatile and easy to apply in the most various media, working well on its own or as a background. This example plays with abstract shapes, very simple lines. Its sharp angles and sketchy style match the brand icon, as well as the colour palette.

5. All together

The Workmans Brand by Jacob Waites for Foremost

The Workmans Brand by Jacob Waites for Foremost

When you have illustrative elements, icons, logo variations etc. you can join them all together in one big pattern that expresses your brand. This type of pattern is great for packaging (like a tissue paper for a food brand), murals, stationery etc. However, it normally works better when it stands alone (on the back of a letterhead for example) since it has a lot of elements in it.

As you can see, there are plenty of options when creating a pattern and where you can use it. When working on a branding project, think about which type of pattern would match your brand the most, and spend some time playing with different elements to see what comes out. It’s worth considering, as well, where you want to apply this pattern – if you’re creating a brand for a food company, for example, you can work on a pattern that can be applied to their packaging. Or if it’s a tech company, maybe something that would work well on their website.

One thing is certain: a pattern, as well as other assets, can take your portfolio to the next level. It’s definitely worth dedicating time on this to create a complete branding project, impressing your client and/or a potential employer!