You may know the importance of brand consistency at a high level, but what about how to actually maintain a consistent and cohesive brand, especially when there’s team to consider? We’re sharing our top tips for brand consistency and some examples so you can see it in action.
You’re scrolling through social media and see a quote graphic – you know who it belongs to without even seeing the logo. You catch a snippet of a commercial and know without even seeing the end credits who it’s for. You see an email header and know immediately who it’s from, without seeing the sender’s information.
How is any of this possible? Especially when there seems to be so much emphasis put on a brand’s logo as being the most important element of a brand.
My friends, say hello to the importance of brand consistency. Not only can it shape a first impression but it also has the power to entice someone to come back again and again, or know immediately who you are without even seeing the logo.
Today we’re taking a closer look at what brand consistency is and how you maintain it for your business. Let’s dive in!
IN THIS ARTICLE
>> What is brand consistency?
>> Why does a consistent brand matter?
>> What does it mean to have an inconsistent brand?
>> Tips for maintaining brand consistency in your marketing
>> Examples of visual brand consistency
What is brand consistency?
Every point of contact that someone has with your brand either adds-to or detracts-from the brand’s overall perception.
Brand consistency happens when all those touchpoints work in the same direction, tell the same story and provide cohesion in terms of brand experience.
Said another way, a consistent brand is when there isn’t an interruption across the various encounters. The experience the receiver has is continuous, regardless of how or where they’re interacting with your brand.
Tip worth noting: Cohesion and consistency does not mean perfection or the exact same, every single time. The goal is to use the elements in the same or similar way to form a united whole. As the business owner or brand manager, you get to decide where you want to bring in creative freedom and flexibility, without compromising the experience the brand is trying to create.
Why does a consistent brand matter?
When someone sees your post on social media, visits your website or hears you give a presentation, they’re formulating a perception of your brand. The words, the visuals, the engagement style all work together to influence how someone perceives your brand. And the goal as a business owner is to have each element at each touch point support the desired perception, and tell the same story.
Because brands and businesses that truly impact their community are the ones that build trust and connection with their right audience. And trust is built on consistency – the ability to meet (or exceed) the expectation, again and again.
I think about my own behaviors in terms of connecting with and trusting brands.
I pre-ordered that book because I already knew what great content the author could produce and I trusted that they would deliver that same experience within the context of the book. I signed up for that year-long mastermind because I had been listening to the business owner’s podcast for years and trusted that the program would be just as valuable as what they were sharing via audio.
The brands that consistently deliver the same level of experience are the ones that build trust and connection with their right audience.
It’s as simple (yet equally complex) as that.
What does it mean to have an inconsistent brand?
An inconsistent brand means the receiver doesn’t have a cohesive encounter across the various touchpoints. I.e., they don’t receive a similar experience when they poke around your website and then hop over to a social media channel.
When the experiences aren’t working in the same direction, it causes confusion and distrust, and detracts from the desired brand perception.
So what’s the hard and fast rule to not have this happen to you?
The not-so-great news: Brand consistency looks different for every business which means there is no specific line in the sand that signifies the difference between a brand that’s consistent and brand that’s not (womp womp).
But, it’s not completely an ambiguous black hole.
Here are a few questions to help you define where the inconsistency line in the sand can be drawn for your brand and business:
- How do you want someone to feel when they engage and experience your brand?
- How do you not want them to feel when they engage and experience your brand?
- What are the top three to five rules that need to be adhered to when creating visuals for your brand? I.e., The yellow brand color is only used for this specific situation, the script font cannot be used for more than three words, images must always feature a human element.
- What are the top three to five rules that need to be adhered to when writing content for your brand? I.e., We don’t use ALL CAPS in social media captions, we can use curse words in these specific settings, we don’t speak/engage in an accusatory tone
Tips for maintaining brand consistency in your marketing
Okay, okay. So let’s look at the positive. If you’re clear on what you don’t want, how do you create more of what you do want – a consistent and cohesive brand?
Understand your brand’s customer journey
This means getting clear on all the potential points of contact that someone may have with your brand. We break the customer journey into four stages: awareness, buy-in, purchase and retention. Based on these four buckets, list out all the connection opportunities under each stage. This will give you a high level overview of what needs you have in terms of consistent brand communication.
Define the visual standards
Graphic consistency can be a trouble spot for businesses that have multiple people communicating on behalf of the brand. This is where a brand style guide or brand guidelines are a must-have. These documents give you and your team an overview of how the visual brand should be applied or implemented.
The style guide is usually a one-page document that shares your primary logo, logo variations, color palette, typography and pattern. The brand guidelines are the in-depth version on how to appropriately apply and implement the visual brand identity and its various elements. What you choose to include in the guidelines is (again) up to you and your needs.
To give you some ideas:
- Define how the color palette can be implemented: i.e., primary and secondary colors, ratio of colors when paired together, what colors work well together and what colors don’t
- Show how to use certain brand elements: i.e., patterns, textures, brand marks
- Explain the tone of voice and communication style: i.e., this is how we communicate and this is how we don’t communicate, these are the words we use, these are the phrases we use
Create templates for you and your team to utilize
Once you determine where the touch points are and what the standards are, decide if anything can be templatized so there’s less room for creative interpretation. Think social media graphics, presentation slides, website pages, marketing emails, proposals, project reports, case studies and print materials. Helpful tip: create a video or write up a document defining what can and cannot be changed on the template, as well as pointing out specific details that showcase the brand’s look and feel.
Examples of visual brand experience consistency
Need some inspiration on how to put brand consistency into practice? Below you’ll find two examples from WCO clients – how we used a few visual brand standards as guidance to create a website page and social media graphics.
With that, happy branding! 🙂
All my best,
Additional brand resources
This post explores the basics of what rebranding is in business and the high level process for how it’s done.
Read through the top five most common brand myths and misconceptions that may be holding you back from reaching your next level in business.
Learn the importance of leveraging feelings and emotion in building your brand so you can effectively connect with your right audience in this blog post.
Understand the difference between branding and marketing in this post so you can utilize them together to be even more effective in business.
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