Adobe Spark, a suite of integrated cloud-based apps, is targeted to non-designer marketers, solo entrepreneurs, small businesses and professionals who seek a sleek, sophisticated way to connect with customers. Adobe's Creative Cloud pro apps may be too much of a good thing and Microsoft Word features not enough. Businesses that have no time or money for art school or design pros can rely on Spark apps and their iOS companions – Video, Page, Post – to make an online splash for a product or service. Spark apps just debuted new premium features to help businesses better tell their story.
The newly updated Adobe Spark offers branded stories, helping you craft your own corporate identity across graphics, video and web to connect with customers and generate a following. Spark offers an easy way to create professional-looking event fliers, Instagram memes, product demo videos, animations, photo journals and websites for sharing via desktop, laptop and mobile.
Who gets Spark?
Any Creative Cloud subscription – from the $50-monthly package to the $10-monthly Photography plan – offers free access to the Spark brand manager. Non-subscribers can now get in on the deal for $9.99 per month or $99 per year.
Spark launched last year as a free offshoot of Creative Cloud, but it took the liberty of adding its own branding to each project that could only be removed by Creative Cloud subscribers or via the web app as a free user preview of the premium services. The update introduces a subscription fee specifically for Spark that lets users access Spark's brand management functionality, as well as features such as theme and template creation or customization, with click-based automatic style linking for colors, fonts, and logos across themes and templates.
Spark iOS apps are still available free of charge and without subscription for anyone not interested in the custom branding features. Free users of Spark Video get eight new themes with fresh designs and motions, new layouts such as split view, and the ability to drag text to various points on their slides. Free users will no longer be able to remove the Adobe watermark from their projects.
Building a brand
With the new version of Spark, you can use your own logo or create an original one. Just upload your current logo into the Spark system and then pick elements such as colors, fonts and a brand name. Spark uses Adobe's artificial intelligence engine to generate complementary color palettes and pair curated fonts to create personalized templates and themes so that your look is polished and professional.
Spark then generates a host of branded templates, themes and surfaces, including business cards, stationery, social media covers, fliers, page headers and footers, video stamps, and outros. Changes you make are universal across templates. You can also create specific variations so that different logos or themes can represent different aspects of your business or seasonal messages.
Get started with Spark
1. Launch Spark on the web, and you will see a new Add Brand button. Click it to open an interface that lets you start creating your brand identity.Credit: Jackie DoveCredit: Jackie Dove
2. If you already have a logo design, you can upload the art in PNG format, which gets added to the Spark system. Otherwise, you can use the tool to help you build a text-based logo – either using your own name or initials or your company moniker. A transparent PNG assures that your logo can be used with any color or patterned background.Credit: Jackie Dove
3. Spark takes your primary color and generates a palette of complementary colors. You can experiment with the colors and add different ones until you're pleased with the result.Credit: Jackie Dove
4. Most non-designers are not font experts. That's why Spark lets you select from a slate of curated fonts to find the one that best represents your company.Credit: Jackie Dove
5. Name your brand, using either your own name or the name of your company.Credit: Jackie Dove
6. Spark takes the anxiety out of font pairings. After you choose a main font – from categories such as Classic, Loud, Clean and Natural – Spark automatically pairs it with a companion secondary font that goes well with it.Credit: Jackie Dove
7. Spark takes the elements you choose and generates templates for numerous types of documents, including business cards, social media covers, fliers, stationery and video stamps.Credit: Jackie Dove
8. Choose from video and graphic themes to use with Spark Video and Spark Pages so that all your business communications have a common logo, color and font set.Credit: Jackie Dove
9. Feel free to experiment with variations on the theme – your initial choices are not set in stone. Spark makes it easy to alter the look and feel of your branding at any time. If you choose a new font or color setting, the app's style-linking feature automatically updates all the document types and themes it appears on.Credit: Jackie Dove
10. If you want to change a single template for a special or seasonal promotion, click on the one you want to use, and the Create From control lets you change only that item without applying changes to other templates.Credit: Jackie Dove
11. You can get pretty granular in choosing different layouts, color schemes, backgrounds, text and even swapping out logos, keeping all changes confined to one or chosen templates. Use template elements to change and "brandify" design, layout, palette, background and text.Credit: Jackie Dove
12. Spark Video lets you choose how to brand your videos in much the same manner as Page and Post, by first adjusting colors and fonts.Credit: Jackie Dove
13. You can adjust many different aspects of Page themes.Credit: Jackie Dove
14. Work on the go. Everything you can do from the web app can also be accomplished on mobile apps for iPhone and iPad. When you enable syncing, all changes automatically appear in all locations.Credit: Jackie Dove
If you're looking for a polished online presence with content that spans graphics, video and web, Adobe Spark may be your answer to design school. Adobe offers plenty of help on the Spark website on how to get started and best practices for using its Spark apps. If you are already a Creative Cloud subscriber, Spark is a no-brainer. If you're not, you don't have to plunk down cash right away. You can start using Adobe Spark apps online or via iOS free of charge to get a feel for what the service offers. If you don't mind Adobe Spark branding, you never have to pay a dime. However, if you want to push own brand, Spark makes it easy for $99 per year.