Is This One Thing Hurting Your Brand? (plus free checklist!)
The internet is full of advice on how to improve your business. It’s easily to get overwhelmed by the number of resources out there. How do you sift through it all? How do you know what’s actually going to help your business?
Let me make it simple for you by honing in on a basic principle that can make or break your brand and your business’s impact. It doesn’t always take in-depth courses and strategies to improve your business. In fact, you should make sure you have the fundamentals down before you get into the deep stuff.
The basic principle I’m talking about? Consistency.
I’ll say it over and over and over again. You’ll probably get sick of hearing me say it, but consistency is the absolute key to building a strong foundation for your business to grow on. You can have a beautiful brand identity, but it won’t be as effective if your collateral isn't in keeping with your brand style guide. You can have super informational blog posts, but if you don’t keep the look of your blog post graphics consistent, you’ll hurt your chances of building brand recognition and a loyal following. Inconsistency isn't your friend, and it could be the one thing causing the most harm to your business.
WHY IS CONSISTENCY IMPORTANT?
Keeping things consistent in every aspect of your business helps make your brand sturdy, plus you build recognition. Recognition is great because people begin associating certain things with you, whether you’re the person who does fun and creative DIY projects, or the person who is a web design genius, or the person who does really great watercolor tutorials. In turn, this consistency and recognition build trust.
"If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they'll do business with you." - Zig Ziglar
So consistency leads to trust, and trust leads to $$. Makes sense, right?
Think of the brands your admire. What are the things that stick out to you? I’d say one of the underlying elements is the fact that they are consistent in everything they do, across every platform, whether it’s their website, blog posts, social media, newsletters, etc. And since they’re good at what they do (in other words, they have credibility) and they’re trustworthy (in other words, you know what to expect from them since they consistently produce quality work), you want to work with them.
HOW TO ESTABLISH CONSISTENCY
Think of your brand identity as the visual hub of your business. All the spokes coming off that hub, like your website, your blog graphics, social media channels, photographs, business cards, stationery, should very clearly point back to the brand identity. Having a well-established, consistent, and effective brand identity is how you begin to build those hubs. The best way to do this is to have a brand style guide with your brand’s colors, fonts, patterns, icons, etc.
A brand style guide outlines the colors, fonts, patterns, and style of photographs and illustrations/icons that can be used. It also sets clear standards for the different ways a logo and its variations can be used on a white background, a colored background, overlaid on a photo, etc. It will also clearly show how a logo should not be used (Can it be tilted? Can the color change? Is there a limit to how small it can be sized down?). Having a style guide, even a simple one, will help take your brand identity from an inconsistent guessing game to a strategic and uniform use of visuals.
When you keep your visuals consistent, people will begin to associate those colors paired with those fonts and that style of photograph as yours. There are certain bloggers whose graphics I can point out immediately when I scroll through Pinterest. They’ve created a nice, clean template design and have kept all the fonts, colors, and types of images cohesive across the board to be distinguished as uniquely theirs. I’m more apt to save one their posts for later because I know they produce quality content and are a trustworthy source.
Good design builds trust, just as consistency and recognition also build trust. When design is professional-looking and consistent? It’s a winning pair.
Sign up for the free brand checklist below to get some guidance on keeping visual consistency with your brand!
As a branding designer, I place a high importance on visuals being consistent, but a brand is built on more than just a great logo and a pretty color palette. Your brand includes the content you’re putting out there, so this aspect of your business is equally as important to keep consistent and dependable.
So how to you make your content consistent?
Keep the tone in your writing uniform. This means that the tone and personality you convey on your blog should be the same on your about page and throughout your website, the posts you write on social media, the content you include in your newsletters, how you communicate in emails, and how you speak in webinars, on Periscope, etc.
Make your focus smaller to make your impact larger. Your content should hone in on serving a specific target audience, and not be muddled with unrelated content. I understand having a lot of different interests and wanting to share it all on your blog. However, that isn’t going to serve you well in building a steady following or a strong brand recognition. If you’re a business coach who also loves baking, cut the recipes and food photos out of your blog. Give your business some tough love and remove the parts that aren’t working to strengthen your brand.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever share photos of the pretty cupcakes you made, it simply means that you need to find an alternative to where and how you do so. Social media is great for this kind of thing! Instagram is a great outlet for this type of content since you can give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your life and inject some of your personality into it. For example, I love hand-lettering and doing other kind of art, but I don’t post that on my blog. I save it for social media, and then I tie it back into my passion for creativity.
Besides producing content that is niche-specific, consider the content, like articles and videos, you’re sharing on other social channels. If you’re using Instagram or Twitter or Pinterest to promote your brand and build an awareness about your business, then the same principle from the last post applies here. Share content that is beneficial to your audience, and avoid things that go outside that, especially if it’s something controversial like politics. If you don’t want your hands tied when it comes to content, separate your personal and professional accounts if you haven’t done so already. There are some accounts that I use solely for my business, like Twitter and Instagram, so I don’t post content outside of what would appeal to my ideal audience. I reserve my personal Facebook for sharing things that are interesting to me or I think my friends might like. On Pinterest, I made my recipe boards secret so those pins don’t water down the design, branding, and business content I curate.
Sometimes a behind-the-scenes look is fun and can help your personality shine through, so don’t think that you can’t share things that aren’t purely informational. People love getting to know the person behind the business or blog. When you go to post something, ask yourself if it’s informative, interesting, entertaining (I love posts that have design humor!), or will help reinforce your brand. That will help you keep consistent and on track with your content.
As you can see, when you keep all the pieces of your brand consistent, they work together to pack a punch. When you have consistently great content that is valuable to your target audience, people will not only read and share your content, they’ll trust you and want to work with you or buy your products. When you add a solid and cohesive visual identity on top of that, people begin to associate those visuals with your brand, and your content. So eventually, people see your logo and they will start to develop a feeling or association of quality and trust. In short, visuals embody the experiences, connotations, and expectations we have in relation to a brand.
I hope you found this post helpful and you will put the information to good use in strengthening your brand. If you need some guidance, I’ve created a Brand Consistency Checklist to help you out! Click the button below to sign up.