Brand consistency – Why it really does matter!
Studies have shown consistently that when we make purchases it tends to be an emotional decision rather than a practical one. Don’t get me wrong, I know you’re savvy! Many of us are very thorough and diligent in researching and checking around when we decide to make a purchase, especially if it’s a big one, and we make sure that we are informed. However, the weight we assign a company in that choice can be affected by factors that you may not realise are happening subconsciously, swaying you in one direction or another.
Let me put it another way… you’ve signed up at the local gym and you’re looking for a new pair of workout shoes. There are fifteen types of runners to pick from and you’re not overly familiar with the specifics of gym shoes so it’s a bit overwhelming. Then in the sea of choices you spot a brand that you know, let’s say it’s Nike. Now even though you aren’t really sure about which shoes to pick or why, your brain has just latched onto those Nike’s. Why is that? Well even though the Nike’s may be $30 dearer than the others, you are much more likely to pick the brand that feels familiar because familiar feels safe. It’s feels like you are buying something you know rather than risking the unknown and not being sure what to expect. Humans thrive on recognition, it’s the way we’re coded and what makes us feel like we’re in control. Nike has achieved this recognition through years of strict consistency to become one of the most recognisable brands in the world. If you see the words ‘Just do it’ or the Nike tick, it doesn’t matter where or how you see it, you will recognise it as being Nike and you will instantly think of them the way they have trained you to.
Put simply, consistency creates familiarity, which implies and imbues professionalism, predictability and trust into your brand.
To achieve brand consistency there are several factors that you need to nail down, and the best way to do this is by creating a style guide. This is a set of rules and specifications about your branding and how it is to be applied and used. It needs to contain information regarding your logo, colours, fonts, style and possibly a texture, shape or pattern.
Let’s break it down…
Your business logo should be relevant, current and professionally designed to have the best impact. It should stand out from the crowd and let your clients and potential clients know what you do and who you are.
Your logo is sacrosanct to your business – it’s your business identity – and should NEVER EVER be stretched, skewed or otherwise altered.
Your designer will be able to make you logo fit and sit correctly on a poster, brochure or product, you should never try to reshape your logo to fit where you want it.
After you have created your style guide and the necessary people have been trained in its use, make sure the relevant logo files are available for them to use. Part of this process needs to specify the minimum size your logo is able to be used at to maintain the integrity of the logo and retain readability. The last thing you want is for your logo to look like an indecipherable blob.
You should choose no more than 1 to 2 primary, and 2 to 3 secondary colours to use in your branding – including black and white. Your logo colours are the no brainer choices obviously, but in order for your logo to stand out it will need contrasting and/or complimentary colours to be seen against. These colours should also be consistent across your branding, the same as the logo itself. Colours are very much affected by the other colours used around them, which can change the appearance of your logo if you’re not consistent.
That doesn’t just mean that if you choose blue as one of your colours that any blue will do either! Blue isn’t just blue, which you very quickly realise if you’ve ever looked at paint. Pick a specific blue and note the CMYK and RGB mix so that it can be replicated to be recognisable as ‘your blue’. That way you will know reliably how it will look with your logo and you can ensure consistent results.
Colours are vastly powerful tools to direct how people react to you.
Ever noticed that most fast food places use a lot of red and yellow? Red attracts attention and triggers stimulation, appetite and hunger, and yellow triggers feelings of friendliness and happiness. Combined, they are a powerful subconscious suggestion that you are hungry now and that you enjoy that place. Study up on a little colour theory to learn which colours evoke the feelings that you want to trigger in your clients.
The font or typeface you use in your logo goes a long way towards recognisability and needs to be carried throughout your branding. If you have a nice clean and modern sans-serif font in your logo but then suddenly switch to an old school style serif font it looks thrown-together, messy and unprofessional. Simply put, it just doesn’t look like it matches or is supposed to go together.
Keep it simple! Keep it clean!
Generally, your logo will have 1 to 2 fonts present in it, and those are what should be carried across to the rest of your marketing. It’s also worth noting that those two fonts might be available in several different styles, meaning you might be able to use those fonts in fine, regular bold and italic as well.
Your style is the feel of your branding, and should be developed with your logo in mind. If your logo is clean, modern and light, your style should reflect that. You can imagine how unprofessional and mismatched your branding would look if you used layouts, textures and images that were heavy and grungy with a clean, modern light logo. It would just look out of place and awkward, and when things look awkward and out of place people feel put off and uncomfortable. Nobody wants to look at something awkward longer than they have to.
Start out picking a style that is relevant to your demographic, something that suits your brand.
If your business is modern décor, aim for your images and layouts to be lighter and fresh. If your business specialises in vintage car restoration, aim more for colours, images and layouts that have a bit more of an aged patina feel to them.
Your aim is for people to be able to see a brochure, poster, ad or business card and recognise it as you. They are more likely to pay attention and really look at what you’re trying to sell them if you look the part right across your branding. We humans are a pretty visual lot, styles and colours tend to evoke an emotive response, and that’s where we have the opportunity to elicit the response we are looking for.
Texture or shape
This refers to a design aspect that you might consistently use across your marketing. Something along the lines of a trademark angled slash across the top of your letterhead, a background or header/footer texture or a simple repeated shape you use for dot points. When reused consistently along with your other style guide aspects, these are all things that can make your brand recognisable, familiar and reliable, helping you to stand out amongst all of your competitors. If you’re clever with the shapes and textures that you use, you can start to have your clients think of you whenever they say that shape, even in another unrelated environment.
Just remember that brand consistency takes time and is something that should be played for the long game. It’s not something that will happen overnight, or even over a year, but stick to your guns and consistently apply your style guide and you will see results in the long run!