A consistent brand identity: it’s what every company wants but many struggle to create. Today, brands are called upon to appear on more platforms, to pursue more marking tactics, and to serve more purposes than ever before. It’s hard to create a level of brand consistency that supports this omnichannel approach. Even when you have, it’s tough to remain consistent over weeks, months, and years of advertising and digital interaction.
Fortunately, building a consistent brand identity is possible; you just have to approach it intentionally and intelligently. In this guide, we’re going to share a few of our tried-and-true tactics for building a predictable yet exciting brand identity your customers will love.
Let’s dive in.
What is Brand Consistency?
Brand consistency is hard to name, but you know it when you see it.
It’s the immediate recognizability of Coca-Cola’s marketing, the way chip brand Doritos was recently so confident in its marketing and brand consistency that it decided to drop its logo altogether, and the way most of us could pick an Apple device out of a crowd, even if you covered up all recognizable markings.
These brands have done an excellent job of making themselves consistent and recognizable, regardless of platform, channel, or presentation, and their customers love them for it.
Today, consistency is expected to run throughout all facets of a brand’s marketing. Brands should be consistent not only in their logo and color scheme, but also in their wording, design, perspectives, voice, and offerings. A consistent brand builds awareness and develops trust with customers, above all else.
6 Steps to a More Consistent Brand
Don’t worry – consistent brands are made, not born. If you’d like to incorporate some more consistency in your brand’s on- and offline communications, follow this six-step process.
1. Create Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines are a little bit like an employee handbook – they tell everyone internal on your team what to expect, how to operate, and how your company chooses to position and portray itself.
In other words, brand guidelines keep things consistent. They allow you to develop a centralized series of mission statements and organize your brand around the effort to support these things.
Here are just a few things proper brand guidelines can and should cover:
- Your company’s preferred voice. For example, are you a professional or witty? Do your blogs read like advice from a close friend, or objective third-party case studies?
- Who you are targeting. Who are you talking to? How old are your customers? Where do they live? What do they do for work? Understanding these demographics allows you to target your messaging that much more effectively.
- Compliance issues. Are there words or phrases you can’t use in your marketing? This is particularly common in the financial and legal sectors and can be a big deal for companies. If this applies to you, brand guidelines are a great place to cover compliance issues and ensure everyone is on the same page.
The three points above are just a few of the topics your brand guidelines might cover. Remember that these are your guidelines, and it’s within your purview to make sure they cater to your brand. With this in mind, feel free to add anything that will educate or help guide your team.
2. Evaluate Your “Corporate Culture”
One big mistake many brands make is to think that consistency is only consumer-facing. This is not true at all. While consistency in the eyes of your customers is critical, it’s not the end-all-be-all of brand consistency.
To be genuinely authentic, brand consistency needs to be an internal pursuit, as well. Take a brand like Patagonia, for example:
The company has made a name for itself as a cause-minded outdoor retailer, and they’ve got a cult following because of it. While they make excellent products and have placed their customer-facing branding virtually across the board, part of the reason consumers love them so much is that they walk the walk rather than just talking the talk.
The company’s founder, for example, is famous for discouraging people not to buy his products, unless they absolutely need something new. To support recycling and reuse initiatives, the company has founded a “Worn Wear” program, which goes around the country fixing old Patagonia gear and restoring it for use.
While it might not seem like these internal initiatives have much of an impact on the company’s customer-facing branding, they’re critical to lending an air of reliability and trustworthiness to the brand.
To follow in Patagonia’s footsteps, here are a few things you can do:
- Onboard employees as brand ambassadors.
- Look for initiatives and pursuits you can use to “walk the walk” and support the values your company finds important
- Make conscious efforts to evaluate and adapt your brand’s corporate culture to fit your customer-facing marketing, and vice-versa
3. Extend Brand Consistency into Your Content
So your logos and color schemes match across all your social platforms. Great! Now its time to take a look at your content. Once you’ve created brand style guidelines, employ them as you plan your content marketing efforts. In a world where most customers use more than a single platform to make purchases, presenting a consistent voice across all your various marketing channels matters.
One of the best ways to create consistency in your content is to use the same source again and again. For example, a team of in-house or outsourced freelancers who is familiar with your brand guidelines will be able to help you create consistent written content. A go-to batch of photographers and videographers, likewise, will be able to help you craft a recognizable digital and visual presence your customers can rely on.
4. Use Design Elements Properly
We’ve talked in the past about how essential visual identity is to B2C brands, and that remains true. There’s nothing worse than seeing a company with its logo stretched or warped, or with a confusing or inconsistent color scheme.
To combat mistakes like this and keep your visual identity consistent, follow these tips:
- Create a shared folder that includes both your company’s visual assets and comprehensive guidelines on how to use them in digital and hard formats.
- Develop branded slide deck themes for videos and webinars.
- Develop social media cover photos for employee ambassadors.
- Create and share document templates or social sharing templates, which will help your team create a consistent look and feel in digital marketing.
- Run orders for promotional and print materials through a single point of contact, who will ensure your visual assets are always used correctly.
While these things seem small, they can go a long way toward creating a more recognizable brand and a more consistent brand identity.
Brand Consistency Starts Here
Developing a consistent brand identity is far from impossible. With a few smart tips and some concerted effort, you can generate brand consistency for your company, both now and in the future. If you’re looking for a partner in visual assets to help guide you, look no further than The Hub, your source for the best freelance photographers and videographers across the United States.