Why is consistency so important? I’m a big fan of consistency, I know that it helps to build recognition, trust, confidence and professionalism, but did you know that 90% of consumers actually EXPECT that their experience with a brand will be consistent across all channels and devices – with 60% of millenials expecting a consistent experience from brands online, instore AND over the phone. (Loyalty360 and Graduate Degrees) You can’t ignore consistency with figures like that. If your audience are expecting it then you need to do something about it as first impressions are over so quickly and you don’t want to lose a customer because you’re failing to communicate effectively from the outset.
According to Crowdspring, customers expect this consistency to be a “seamless transition between web and device-native applications through color, flow, and overall quality.” this can easily be achieved with effective branding.
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When you take the time to work on your brand identity you are making consistency a priority and you are also making life easy for yourself going forward. You won’t need to make any decisions later as you’ll have made them all in advance, so all you need to do is to apply those decisions to every design you create.
Here’s a brief run-down:
When people buy, 93% of that decision is based on visual appearance over other senses such as smell or texture, colour is obviously highly visual and has a huge effect on judgements within the first 90 seconds. (See hubspot for a great infographic on this) – so choosing the colours for your brand is an important task. Colours have meanings and contribute sub-consciously to a persons impression of your business – and colour improves comprehension by a whopping 73%!
TIPS: Pick three to five colours, take note of the colour codes – you can use coolors for this or canva’s colour palette generator – and then stick to them. These are YOUR colours, and as Cadburys is purple, Coca-cola is red and Ikea is blue and yellow – you can have increased brand recognition by sticking to the same colour palette all the time.
The typefaces you choose to use to represent your business are important too. Consider just how many fonts there are available (who knows?!) and the different styles. There’s no denying that there’s a huge difference between Comic Sans and Baskerville. These both provide different impressions and are for different uses. Which is most appropriate for you? Many typefaces are available as part of a font family, where you have the options of bold, italic, black, light, condensed and so on, which is really useful for working with as you have more options. You can consider these different weights as well as spacing, sizes, using capitals or lowercase, which colours to use each typeface in and for which uses, whether you want a typeface which is curly or sans serif (without the flicky bits on the ends of the letters) or serif (WITH those flicky bits!) – there’s a lot of options. This is a great post from Nick Kolenda which shows you how to decipher the personality of a font and is worth a read to help you think more about the typefaces you use in your business.
TIPS: Consider your brand values and use these to help you choose typefaces – but do this alongside considering purpose, legibility and impact. Don’t spend HOURS scrolling through websites window shopping. Set yourself a timeframe and some guidelines on style and go from there. If you decide on the sort of typefaces you need before you start then that makes life easier. If you feel dazzled by all of the options then either stick with typefaces you already own or try something like Wordmark to narrow down the options.
Implementing your brand across all applications means creating that seamless transition which comes through being consistent. Colour and typefaces are a huge part of that, but there are other things to consider too. Do you have one logo or four because you can’t decide which one to use or haven’t really spent time thinking about it? You need to get that sorted out, and that can be as simple as deciding which typeface to use for that one purpose and then tweaking it – making more decisions – so that it looks fantastic. Of course, hiring a logo designer would result in the most effective outcome. Then you need to make some decisions about positioning. Will you place your logo in the bottom right or centred at the top for example. You’ve chosen some colours, are you going to always design on a white background or will you use one or some of these colours as a background colour? What style of imagery are you going to use? How are you going to lay out your design so that you can do it in the same way each time? Will you pop headlines in a coloured box over an image, or place them above? Will you be creating other elements such as icons or illustrations to help you have a consistent look and feel in that way?
TIPS: List all of the touchpoints you can think of where you will need to create some visual branding. There are some at the bottom of this infographic and if you think about the journey your customer goes on before, during and after working with you, you will be able to create a good list. Consider how each place will look when a person arrives there – so how will you make sure that when they go from your website to Twitter that they know they’re in the right place? How can you create graphics for each social platform, your vehicle graphics and your brochure that are consistent in look and feel, even if they aren’t exactly the same image? Do some sketches before you switch your computer on to help you get clear on this.
Create a style guide
A style guide is the most useful document you can have to help you be consistent. All this means is that the decisions that you’ve made are written down in one place. Somewhere that you can refer to again and again. Something that you can share with others if you need someone else to create a design for you. This could be handwritten, it could be typed up and made into a guide with a contents page and examples, or a one page document. It could be in evernote or in the notes function on your phone. As long as it’s accessible and usable and you keep it up to date if you add anything new or take anything away.
TIPS: Take a look at some examples of guidelines by others, here’s a list of 20 from Hubspot to give you some inspiration, this will help you to think about the ways that you can apply consistency to your business. Remember your values, the whole point of having a brand identity is to help you communicate who you are and what you’re about better with the right people. Detail is good, the more specific you can be the more consistent you can be – but also consider how easy it’s going to be to recreate your ideas each time because if it’s too complex then it’s easier to stop doing it. Keep things simple for yourself. Don’t just consider print and online, also think about how you can bring your brand identity into your shop or office and how you can weave your values into other forms of communication such as email and speaking on the phone.
Now that you’re armed with your brand style guide you can meet your audiences expectations by being consistent everywhere and anywhere that they might come across you – and because you put in the work and made it happen you’ll be more memorable because of it.
What resources have you found to help you make decisions and develop your brand identity?
Amy Purdie is the founder of Whiteacres (where you are now) she can help your business become irresistible to your ideal clients so that they can’t wait to work with you.
Amy has been enjoying designing logos, brand identities, illustration, print work and websites – since 2007 fuelled mainly by tea and chocolate.