Your brand is comprised of many elements, including your logo, color palette, print materials and website. Together, they create the look and vibe you give your customer. Sometimes in this process, texture and patterns are overlooked, but they can add some much-needed visual interest to your print materials and website.
What’s the difference between a texture and a pattern?
Although these two words seem similar, they have some slight differences. From a web design perspective: A pattern can normally be tiled. Think of a small square that can be repeated over and over to form one unified picture. A texture is normally a large image that is made of lots of individual pieces. For example, let’s say I wanted to use a tree bark texture — I’m not just tiling one small snippet of bark over and over — there is natural variation which makes up the bigger picture.
Ask yourself: What mood does your brand evoke?
Just like your color palette, you should ask yourself what you want your viewer to feel or think about when they see your pattern or texture. Just as you choose the color blue to evoke the feeling of calm, your texture type would feel calming. Is your brand gritty or smooth? Is it home-y or clinical? All of these feelings can be supported by the texture you select.
Print materials and website?
Textures and patterns can enhance your brand in a variety of mediums. The pattern may be on the back of your business card and used very subtly on your website. Make sure to keep the visual elements of your brand consistent across all platforms. Consider the legibility of fonts on top of a pattern if you have picked something strong or bold.
So how do other people take advantage of adding visual interest to their brand? Here are some diverse examples that all use texture and pattern:
Geometric patterns work great for brands with a hip or minimal feel. For example, here’s a Scandinavian food truck business. To the average person, this pattern may not look inspired, but the designer thought ahead to integrate a visual element that was informed by the landscape while still maintaining a modern look and feel. The pattern can be seen on most of the pieces and feels like an integral part of the branding.
and in case you can’t see it well, here’s a close up:
A lot of products and brands have a granola-y, earthy vibe. When you have a natural product, you can explore warm, earthy textures and patterns. Stumptown’s subtle pattern gives a warm inviting look to the website. If you’re a customer coming to the site for information, you get the vibe that you’re in a coffee shop just from the texture alone. If you remove the texture from the site, it would lose some of it’s energy and brand presence.
Oftentimes, brands will adopt a pattern to give more dimension to packaging or websites. In the case of Krave Jerky, their branding is hip and probably not what you might think a run-of-the-mill jerky package would look like. A brand can use a texture to give an eccentric look to a previously boring or typical product — especially if they want to attract a younger crowd. Krave’s packaging and website both use the same texture and pattern but seem relatively subtle compared to the bright animals on the front of the packaging.
Gradients as Texture
**Edited Text below**
Since the original writing of this blog, we have seen a comeback of the use of gradients as texture in web design. Maybe it’s because of the evolving technology of screen resolution, easily shared knowledge of how to use them correctly, or plainly the exciting revolt against ultra flat web design, but we are welcoming them back with open arms. The same rules apply as with using any pattern or texture. Firstly, you want to ensure that the colors are on right for your branding. With a deft hand, they can also be used effectively to convey mood and feeling, whether it’s tech and slick or sweet and airy. Spotify does a great job at using duotone gradient to convey the happy connection with summertime and music.
The Short Story
Texture and pattern can be a valuable part of your branding process. Look around at your favorite brands and you’ll probably see some kind of visual interest besides color or imagery. If you’re working on a branding project, think about how all of the elements will play into your web and print materials.