The key to every professional, easily recognizable brand is consistency.
When brands use the same colors, logos, fonts, patterns, and imagery over and over again, potential clients and customers begin to associate those visuals with their business.
You don’t have to see their logo to recognize their foil-wrapped burritos or white paper cups with brown hand lettering.
Because they’re consistent, you associate these visuals with their brand.
The same should be true for your business. And the best way you can brand create consistency is through your collateral items.
What in the world is a “collateral item”?
A collateral item is any visual or media used to promote your brand.
It can be anything from a business card to a seasonal door decal on a storefront window.
Any point of contact you have with potential clients and customers usually involves some sort of collateral item.
You’ve probably come across your fair share of collateral items already, whether you’ve been in business for 5 years or 5 minutes.
But there may be some collateral items you’ve overlooked.
You might not implement all 28 of the collateral items I share below, but my hope is that you’re able to glean a few new ideas, implement them in your marketing, and create a more intentional, professional experience for your clients and customers.
But before you peek at the list...
I would encourage you to write out your client/customer process from start to finish.
I have each of my design clients do this when they’re choosing which collateral items they want me to design; it’s helpful for determining which items they’re going to get the most use out of.
When you create this list, include everything from emails to client gifts. Then consider how you can infuse your brand into those interactions.
For example: You can brand your emails with a custom email signature.
I’ve shared exactly how I outline my process in this Ellechat:
You might find it helpful before you dive into the ideas below. To watch the replay, login to the Crowdcast window above.
28 collateral item ideas for your creative business
1 | Social media images
Example: Lara Casey
Social media graphics can be a great way to create brand recognition with your audience.
I don’t even have to see Lara Casey’s handle or profile photo in my feed to recognize her hand lettered quotes and brand colors because she’s consistent.
She may share different quotes across her accounts each week, but they’re the same style time after time.
Do you share quotes, tips, facts, stats, how-to’s, or insights on your social media accounts?
Consider creating templates to maintain consistency, save time, and create recognition with your followers.
2 | Gift cards
Make it fun for people to give others the gift of your services and products by branding your gift cards!
Here are some fun examples from Canva’s Design School blog to help get your creative gears turning.
3 | Facebook group images
Do you host a Facebook group?
Consistent imagery is a guaranteed way to make your group look legitimate and create recognition when members see your posts in their feed.
Caitlin Bacher’s Facebook group graphics are a great example of this.
Their bright brand colors and patterns are consistent with her brand and always catch my attention when they pop up in my feed.
If you host a group on Facebook, consider creating templates for the images you share.
4 | Media kit
Media kits are multi-page PDFs that provide blog statistics and audience demographics to prospective affiliates and advertisers.
There are millions of other blogs out there.
By branding your media kit, you have the potential to make your blog look professional, create a positive first impression with potential advertisers, and stand apart from the crowd.
5 | Webinar & podcast graphics
Example: Goal Digger Podcast
Consistency creates recognition.
But another benefit of creating branded graphics for items like podcasts is that you’re putting a visual with something that’s non-visual: an audio clip.
Jenna Kutcher does a great job of branding her Goal Digger Podcast episodes by creating a template: a background image with a gray box for the title, a white box for the URL, and a pink box for a call to action.
Templates like these not only create consistency, but they can also save you time when you go to create graphics for podcasts and webinars week after week.
6 | Contracts, timelines, and quotes
Who says documents like contracts and quotes have to be boring?
Make them a little more visually appealing and professional by adding your brand colors and fonts.
7 | Advertisements & promo graphics
Do you have an upcoming event or offering to promote?
Advertisements and promo graphics are big collateral items to consider, and they can have a huge impact on grabbing people’s attention and causing them to take action.
This post on Canva’s Design School blog does a great job of explaining how to create promo graphics for social media that convert. It’s definitely worth a read!
8 | Signage
This may seem pretty straight-forward, but signage is an important collateral item. If you have a brick and mortar shop or a pop-up shop, you’ll need a sign with your logo.
There might be restrictions or guidelines you have to follow if you’re renting a space, but I would challenge you to get creative with your signage. After all, it needs to catch attention and create a positive first impression!
9 | Instagram story graphics
Example: Lauren Hooker
Even though Instagram stories are meant to be a little more informal, you can use them to create brand recognition and engagement with your audience.
I tried something new last month by creating Instagram story graphics to promote Elle & Company’s Brand Challenge.
They weren’t hard to make - I just used my brand colors, fonts, and icons - but they were a fun way to share about the challenge, do something unexpected, and create recognition with my audience.
10 | Email signatures
Email might be one of the most common places for people to come into contact with your brand. So don’t overlook this opportunity to showcase your brand through a simple email signature.
Add your logo, your name, and links to your website and social handles to create brand recognition and encourage people to follow along with you elsewhere.
11 | Blog post graphics
Example: Paper & Oats
Would people recognize your blog graphics if they saw them pop up in their Pinterest feed?
If not, put a little time and intention into creating a one-of-a-kind template to create recognition and help your blog graphics stand apart.
Paper & Oats’ blog graphics aren’t over the top or complicated to create, but they’re highly recognizable: a square format, consistent colors and fonts, and either a pattern or photo background.
12 | Coupons
Are you offering a discount code via email for your upcoming course or including a coupon code in a customer’s order?
Make it a little more visually appealing (and professional) by branding it! Take a look at this post from ___ for inspiration.
13 | Facebook header and profile photo
Profile photos may seem like a small and insignificant collateral item, but they’re going to be seen every time one of your posts pops up in a follower’s Facebook feed. So they’re worth a little bit of thought and intention.
Icons and simple logos tend to work best for profile photos, because any small details often get lost when they’re downsized.
But you can have a little more fun with your Facebook cover photo.
If you’re in need of a little creative inspiration, this article shares 17 clever ideas for your cover photo (and some great examples).
14 | Mugs, shirts, bags
These are often the items that most commonly come to mind when people think of “brand collateral.”
And while online businesses don’t tend to focus as much on these items for marketing today as they did 10 years ago, they’re still helpful for creating brand awareness.
15 | Backgrounds & wallpapers
Sometimes the best ways to promote your brand aren’t the most obvious.
I came across Cocorrina through a simple pin on Pinterest for one of her downloadable illustrated desktop wallpapers.
Her logo isn’t on them (although she could probably add a link to her website for more exposure) and the style of each wallpaper is different, but they keep her business in my mind and cause me to return to her site on a regular basis.
(And I can’t tell you how many times I get asked where my wallpaper is from when I do speaking engagements and Ellechats.)
If it makes sense for your business, consider creating backgrounds or wallpapers for your audience to promote your brand and create more awareness.
16 | Pricing guides
Do you send pricing information out to prospective clients after they inquire?
If so, improve your client experience and create a positive first impression by putting more intention into the design of your pricing guide.
Add your brand photos, fonts, and colors to make it look consistent with your website and other collateral items.
17 | Content upgrades (worksheets, checklists)
Example: Elle & Company Business Playbook
Content upgrades provide an incentive for people to subscribe to your list.
They can be anything from a free worksheet to a mini-course, and just like those wallpapers mentioned in collateral item idea #15, they’re a great way to spread brand awareness.
So be sure to add your brand colors, patterns, fonts, etc. to your content upgrades, even if they’re something simple like a checklist. Little details go a long way!
18 | Shop banners
For those of you who have an online shop through a site like Etsy, you’re already aware of your need for a shop banner.
But instead of simply adding your logo to a background color, pattern, or photo, get creative with it! Take a look at these examples from Adobe Spark.
19 | Presentation slides
Example: Elle & Company
Are you speaking at a conference or hosting a live webinar?
Branded slides can make your presentation look more professional and create better brand awareness.
At the very least, incorporate your brand colors and fonts. But to take it to the next level and create better engagement, consider adding custom icons, patterns, and photos.
20 | Handouts
Just like branded slides, something as simple as a handout can make a positive impression if you have an upcoming speaking engagement or presentation.
They don’t have to be complicated, but incorporating your brand fonts, colors, and borders can go a long way in making your presentation look professional.
21 | Business cards
Example: Benton Brothers
Whether you’re attending a networking event or simply create a new connection at a coffee shop, it’s helpful to have a business card at the ready.
While we may be living in an increasingly digital world, business cards aren’t dead! They’re actually even more helpful for sharing your website URL and social media handles.
And if you exercise a little creativity (like Benton Brothers) when you design your cards, you have a great opportunity to create a lasting first impression.
22 | Brochures
Like mugs and t-shirts, brochures are more of an old school way to market and promote your brand. But they aren’t extinct!
If you want to share information about your business or offering through a brochure, make sure it looks consistent with the rest of your brand by adding your brand fonts, colors, and photos.
23 | Greeting cards, postcards & notecards
Example: Prairie Letter Shop
Have you incorporated snail mail into your client experience? Maybe you’re a shop owner who sends out orders on a regular basis.
If so, don’t underestimate the impact a simple greeting card can have in creating brand recognition and boosting professionalism.
These cards for my client, Alex, were a fun way to add a personalized touch to her orders and encourage her customers to purchase from her shop again in the future.
24 | Invitations
Are you hosting an in-person event? Make it official and create brand recognition by designing a paper invitation!
Is your event online? Consider designing and sending out a custom e-vite.
25 | Packaging labels
Example: Little Poppy Co.
How your product is displayed can make a big impact on whether or not customers purchase it. So put some time and intention into the design of your product packaging!
The packaging for Little Poppy Co.’s bows and headbands is simple and doesn’t take away from the product. The result is professional and consistent.
26 | Event badges
Do you host a conference or host an online course? Consider designing a badge for attendees to display on their website once they complete it!
Not only will this make your event look more legitimate, but it will increase exposure and brand awareness. A win-win!
27 | Infographics
Example: Elle & Company
Infographics display data visually, and they’re great for creating engagement on your blog and website. They’re also highly shareable (especially on Pinterest).
You can use infographics in a blog post, or get creative and use them on your services or process page on your website.
This old infographic was created for my website to walk prospective clients through my design process.
It was great for explaining the steps involved, but it was also shared numerous times (which was helpful for increasing awareness about my services!).
28 | Stamps & stickers
Spruce up your packaging, snail mail, and client gifts with custom stamps and stickers!
Little details like this can be easily overlooked, but they’ll add a little more cheer to your packages and consistency to your brand.
You don’t have to implement all 28 of these.
But I do recommend writing out your process to see which of these collateral items would be helpful to create for your brand.
Are there any other collateral items you’ve utilized for your creative business? How many of these visuals have you already created for your brand?
Need help creating collateral items?
The Elle & Company Library is chock-full of templates for business cards, gift cards, content upgrades, blog post images, presentation slides, and more!