You know the spiel.
“Brand consistency is important.”
You need to look like you have your sh*t together or customers will avoid you like the guy at the bar who, despite his mismatched clothing and terrible breath, continues to initiate conversation with anyone and everyone who approaches to order a drink.
But what does brand consistency even mean?
Why is it so important?
And most importantly, how do you achieve it without adding a butt load of work to your already heaping plate of responsibilities?
Let’s simplify it.
If your business is the service or product you sell, then your brand is your very own mascot that wraps it all up, puts a pretty little bow on top and delivers it to your customer with a smile.
Now, why it’s important...
3 reasons brand consistency is important
1. It shows you’re dependable.
When you're getting to know someone, you develop opinions and assumptions about them based on your interactions.
If they dress in a business suit and speak politely one day and then wear ripped jean shorts and a dirty t-shirt while spewing more curse words than you imagined existed the next, chances are you won’t know what to make of them.
Unpredictability makes people uneasy.
Customers like working with someone they can depend on. Especially when it comes time to shell out some cash.
2. It makes you more recognizable.
Brand recognition is about more than just getting your name out there.
It's about helping consumers get to know your brand on a personal level.
Coca Cola isn’t going on and on about their soda in every commercial they make. Their marketing is filled with family and friends laughing and gathering for a good time.
Coca Cola’s products are promoted as key props in these special life moments.
Part of engaging the right emotions with your consumers is making them feel like they know your brand and that your brand can be trusted.
Gain trust by developing a seamless look for your brand across your website, social media channels, even in your store and on your product packaging.
You want your customers to feel more comfortable with your brand, which will make them more likely to purchase from you again.
3. It presents you as the professional.
If your branding is all over the place and you present your business like a box diagram an eight year old threw together the morning it was due, you're limiting your chances of being taken seriously.
This doesn’t mean you're restricted to a stiff formalism that cramps your style.
The key to exuding professionalism is a dependable, memorable and consistent brand.
Establishing a quality, memorable brand doesn’t require an excessive amount of time or resources. It does require one main ingredient: consistency - that can be achieved through 2 simple steps.
How to add consistency to your branding:
1. Create a style guide
2. Use it.
Sounds simple, right? But, many brands fail to do just this.
Let’s look at these two steps in more detail:
1. Create a style guide
If you work with a designer, make sure this is included in the work they do for you. If you already have a logo but no style guide, now is the time to create one. This can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.
The bare minimum should include:
- A high quality copy of your text or image-based logo
- 1-2 fonts
- 1-3 brand colors
Here is an example style sheet we created for one of our clients:
This style sheet includes the original logo design we created for them, a second version adapted for their Facebook profile picture, their fonts and brand colors.
This mini style guide, or style sheet serves as a reference for any promotional materials (digital or print) - website, brochures, flyers, business cards, social media profiles, social media posts, you get the idea…
If you’re up for doing more than the bare minimum, here are several important additions for your style guide:
- Brand mission
This is a sentence or two about why you do what you do. A friendly self reminder and a brief introduction for anyone who joins your team.
If someone else is working on behalf of your brand, they should know what you’re about.
- Voice and tone
What does your brand sound like? Is it friendly and humorous? Serious and stern? Witty and sarcastic? Don’t write stiff and serious web copy only to be sarcastic and funny in social media posts. Define your voice and tone and stick to it.
- Brand colors
Your branding should include 1-3 colors. Stick to them. If your brand colors are light and dark blue (like our client example above), don’t randomly start using red and black.
And, please, for the love of all things design, do not use bright colors that hurt the eyes. That means color combo abominations like yellow text on blue or green text on a bright pink background.
- Fonts and typography
Like your brand colors, choose 1-2 fonts and stick to them. Remember, you want to create a consistent and memorable brand image. That means being decisive and showing restraint.
Please: don’t use comic sans. Yes, it was popular back when chat first started and we were all instant messaging each other over AIM from our parents’ basement. Things have changed. Don’t use it in your personal emails. Don’t use it in your branding. Move on.
Step 2. Use it.
Now that you have a style guide, use it!
Think of your style guide as your brand bible, brand baby, whatever you need to call it in order to view it with utmost importance. Live by it. Do business by it. And most importantly, reference it! This is the go to guide for all things related to your brand.
Don’t just do business. Be a brand. A dependable, recognizable and professional brand.
Start doing it today.
Take two simple steps—Create a style guide…..and use it.