Using Patterns to Boost Your Branding

With most brand identities, you’ll find the standard combination of primary logo, alternate logo, submark, color palette, and on-brand fonts. (Wondering what the heck a primary logo and submark are? Read this post first!) All of those elements work together to lay the foundation of a strong visual for your brand, but why stop there? 

Why not take it your brand to the next level and give it an even more unique look?

A super simple way to do this is by incorporating patterns! Today, I’m going to do a brief overview on why patterns are a huge bonus for your branding and how you can incorporate them into your brand collateral.


Give your branding and design pieces an extra special touch with patterns! Read more at the Gillian Tracey Design blog.


Why Patterns?

If you have a beautiful logo and color palette, you may be wondering why do I need patterns?

1 | They add interest to design, both digital and print.

Use them on everything from your business cards, newsletter header, and Facebook cover image. Patterns create interest, texture, balance, and an extra special touch that flat colors just can’t give you.


2 | Unique flair to help your branding stand out even more from the competition.

A pattern, particularly one that is custom-made for your business will add an extra special touch guaranteed to help you stand out from others in your niche. Patterns are one of the easiest ways to add an extra dose of personality and pizazz to your design pieces.


3 | Supports brand message.

Color is important in communicating tone and mood, but patterns are even more effective in taking it up a notch. The patterns you choose for your branding are great at supporting the brand message and personality of your business. Going for a preppy, clean look? Choose a classic stripe. Want something more vintage and edgy? Opt for something art deco and geometric. Or perhaps you want a pattern that helps show what kind of work you do. For example, if you’re an interior designer you could use a pattern that is comprised of different pieces of furniture. 


4 | Reinforces branding through consistency and recognizable elements.

Oftentimes patterns will incorporate an element from a logo, submark, or some other design element of your branding. This helps builds consistency, which is always a good thing! By using a pattern that’s unique to your business, it helps create more brand recognition.


5 | Gives you versatility and variety. 

When you work with a limited brand identity, it can be a challenge to make things look distinct. It can get repetitive and boring. Patterns are a simple fix to branding boredom! They’ll give you an extra tool to use for creating interest in your designs while still keeping within your branding family.


How do I incorporate patterns?

A common design mistake I see is that people don’t know how to use pattern within their designs, so they avoid using it altogether. Patterns can be intimidating! When you’re accustomed to only working with flat colors, learning to incorporate patterns effectively can take a bit of practice. Once you play around with some options and get the hang of how to incorporate them into your designs, you’re not going to want to stop.

Depending on what kind of pattern you’re working with will determine how you’ll incorporate it into your design. The key things to remember when designing with pattern are these: is it balanced, is it legible, is it adding or detracting to the design? 


Is it balanced?

Since patterns carry more visual weight than a flat color, you need to keep that in mind when you’re designing. Don’t use a pattern that is too bright or distracting when you want the focus to be on your text. Instead, opt for a pattern that is more subtle and acts as a texture. 


Is it legible?

If you’re using patterns and text together, one thing to be certain of is the legibility and function of your design. Don’t overlay text on a busy, multi-colored pattern; instead, use a more simple, understated pattern. You don’t want to discourage someone from reading something because it’s too busy and hard to discern.


It is adding to or detracting from the design?

It’s definitely possible to add too many things to a design. Sometimes a pattern is great for filling in some negative space and adding some much-needed visual interest. At other times it may be unnecessary and end up making the design look cluttered. Once you’ve finished designing, take a step back and look objectively. Oftentimes good design means paring down, not adding in #allthethings!


Pattern tip: When you’re working with branded patterns, it’s a good idea to have several color variations (all within your branded color palette, of course!) to give you the most flexibility and variety possible. This should also include a plain white option. If you want a subtle pattern in your background, white is a perfect option to use. You can overlay it on any of your branded colors and change the opacity to suit the project and desired look you’re going for. 


15 Ideas for incorporating pattern into your designs:

  1. use it on one side of your business cards

  2. use it as a background for shareable social media graphics

  3. create a clipping mask to set your pattern within specific shapes or text within your design

  4. make branded graphics using your patterns to share on social media

  5. incorporate them into your blog post templates

  6. use them on your product packaging

  7. get a custom stamp made

  8. add interest to your email newsletter template

  9. order custom envelope liners for your business stationary

  10. add a fun element to buttons on your website

  11. design cover images for social media using your patterns

  12. stickers to add a fun touch to packaging

  13. overlay on photos and graphics on your website

  14. tie your branding into e-books or other content upgrades/printables

  15. use on slides for presentations/webinars

These are just a few ways you could incorporate patterns, and there are so many more creative options to explore! I hope this post encourages you to start incorporating some patterns into your branding, website, and collateral.