And btw, what is a design system? I’ll begin to answer those questions with a question. Does your business or service produce marketing or communication materials?

If the answer is “yes,” then you need a design system.

A design system is a thoughtful grouping of elements that, when used together in a prescripted, guided way, visually and verbally represent your brand. They are the ingredients that make up the pie.

Common design system elements include visual assets like your logo, a color palette, typefaces, photography and/or illustration style, and other graphic elements like patterns or icons. It also includes direction for how your brand sounds, like copy tone and voice direction, and actual messaging direction. And most importantly, all of these assets must be authentic to your product or service. Don’t create a hip, sassy voice for a company that is conservative and mature. Your audience won’t believe it and it will be difficult to uphold it.

No matter how big or small your business is, it is important for your brand to own a design system. This preset system of assets ensures that your marketing and communication pieces all have a consistency about them, and consistency builds strength in brands. Your audience will recognize your brand by the way it looks and sounds. And you should stick with your system for a decent amount of time. Changing your look and voice too often confuses people, if they don’t understand who you are, they won’t trust you.

HB Design works within existing brand design systems (as brand advocates) and creates new design systems for our clients. It is a specialty of ours that we believe in, and truly love to work on!

About Leslie Worth

Leslie Worth is creative director at HB Design, which provides design services for high tech, healthcare, wine, and apparel companies. This article originally appeared in the HB Design blog.