Recently I bought one of those windscreen protectors for the car. It’s amazing! Makes icy mornings so much easier, and alongside the fancy-pants de-icer I have it means that scraping the car is a two second job and we’re not going to get to school after the gates close. Smashing! There are lots of things that we buy to make our leaves easier aren’t there? Things we might even take for granted they’re so normal. Washing machines are pretty awesome – I would be stuck constantly under piles of laundry without one – lamps so we don’t have to go to bed the moment it gets dark, storage boxes so we don’t stub our toes on lego every time we walk across the room, vacuum cleaners so we can get rid of any lego that escaped the storage box 😉 – and then there are other things, popcorn makers and hot water bottles and toasters – and o my goodness – The Kettle. Can’t be without tea can we? Another thing that somehow makes life easier, yes? We can even take electric cables camping with us and have heating and charge our phones in the middle of a field.
We are experts at making our lives easier.
And yet one of the things that people ask me about the MOST when they want to chat about branding is HOW TO BE CONSISTENT and that’s actually really easy. You just have to put things in place to make it easier for you. A bit like building flat pack furniture. You know those drawers are going to make your home tidier once they’re assembled, but you have to put them together first.
Being consistent is not about being time consuming, it’s about being prepared. So here’s some things you can do:
This is probably the hard bit. You need to be final about this. Be brave. You have to pick the different parts of your brand and stick with them. So make that call. Select your fonts and colours and choose the styles of imagery you want to go for, decide on all the things about how your business is going to look. Be as detailed as you feel you need to be. Yes you can literally just think about fonts and colours, but you might want to be really prescriptive and say that you’re only going to use your logo in red on a white background and that it must always be centred along the bottom of your work and that you will only type in maroon with titles in capitals and you can only type your company name in purple when it’s included in text .. go to as much detail as you feel you need to help you make decisions later. Some of that detail might be “use the logo anywhere on the page it doesn’t matter!” as long as you – or the person who is going to be designing things – know. The more you decide now, the less you will have to think later on. So make some rules for yourself and keep them somewhere to refer to. This is your Brand Style Guide and you can refer to it over and over again.
Assemble an image library.
This does not have to be very big, although it will likely grow over time. You can crop, flip, rotate, recolour, fade out, overlay, underlay… the list is endless… with ONE photograph. And who says you can’t use it again anyway? Let’s add recycle to that list. These images can be patterns or photographs or illustrations – anything – as long as they’re relevant to your brand. I create a set of photographs regularly. So one month I might take a load of photographs of me, another month I might do flat lays – all very similar, but different enough to mean that I have different photographs to use. If you’re not confident taking photographs yourself (or even if you are!) then you can have an amazing photographer do them for you. These will be higher quality and the very best photographs possible and should be very brand centred so that you know they’ll work perfectly with your colour scheme and that they’ll convey something about your brand.
Check out these posts for more on photography:
If budget is an issue and taking your own photographs/ creating your own patterns is out, then you can turn to stock photography. (also includes illustrations and patterns!) This might actually take you longer as navigating the endless sea of stock images is something of a challenge. There’s a lot of choice and you need to be careful to set some parameters to help you find images which all work together and convey your brand. Prices also vary. You might be able to buy a pack of images which will all work together beautifully.
Once you have some images, then you’re set. You can add to this over time. Upload them to wherever you create your graphics, keep them in a special folder and make sure you know where to access them so you’re not digging around. If possible at least some of the images should be very high quality so that you can use them for your printed materials.
This is the main thing you can do to make being consistent easier. If you’ve followed the steps above then this part will be fairly quick! You don’t need loads of template styles. Six is a good number. You’ll notice I said template “styles” that’s because one template will not fit all. You will need to work out how many templates you need. This will be based on what you use them for, so for example:
- Website hero image
- Website sidebar image
- Website blog post image
- Facebook page cover image
- Facebook group cover image
- Facebook post image
- Instagram post image
- Twitter post image
- LinkedIn post image
- Pinterest graphic
- YouTube video cover
- Powerpoint slide
Once you know what you need then you can set your templates up. I use PromoRepublic for this which is AMAZING and I can schedule my posts in advance. It’s very like Canva, where you can create and publish your social media posts in the moment or download and add to whatever scheduling program you use.
Create some templates using the decisions that you made earlier, make sure those images are handy and then each time you need a graphic you can switch out the image, you can change the text, you can swap the colours. It’ll take you moments to create that graphic because you did something to make your life easier!
Let me know how you get on!
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.