In a busy, competitive world your prospective customers can easily become impatient and distracted. With a second or less to catch a customer’s attention, how do you make them remember you?
Building a memorable brand doesn’t have to be an expensive or flashy project. It can be achieved through something simpler: consistency. A consistent brand creates a loyal audience and generates business in an environment full of companies vying for attention.
Consistent brands do several things well:
- Visual consistency in colors, fonts, logo use and photography style
- Verbal consistency in messaging and voice
- Consistency of purpose in brand philosophy and values
Visual consistency is a straightforward method for creating a memorable brand. And the biggest companies know how to do this well. Notice anything wrong with these logos?
It’s obvious that something isn’t right with these logos. In our brand training sessions, it usually takes less than a second for a trainee to recognize what is wrong — and recognize how it should look. This only happens when companies are stubbornly consistent about their logo.
But it goes much further than logos. Effective visual consistency also includes a company’s choice of color, texture, photography, font and environmental design. Look at these two well-known coffee shops. Can you name them without any logo clues?
If you recognized Starbucks Coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts, you nailed it. Both repeatedly use the same colors, lighting and product displays to build expectations in their customer’s brain. Brains love knowing what to expect.
Consistency vs Creativity
It’s easier to build a house with bricks than a pile of rocks. Yet most people giving input on design projects ask for something different and unique. Creative thinkers don’t often find satisfaction producing flat brick after flat brick – often focusing on the brick, and not the house. Consistency can feel stifling, especially for designers who cherish their creativity. But the leader who celebrates and rewards consistency will rescue a busy designer from decision fatigue, decreasing the time spent on each project and increasing their output. By encouraging consistent choices, you can create confidence that what feels boring to you actually looks like good branding to your customer.
It’s easy to forget that being you is vastly different than interacting with you. While you interact with the visuals of your company almost every day, your customers do not. So it’s important to make consistent choices for your customers instead of clever choices for yourself. Do you think a McDonald’s designer gets bored of red and yellow? Yes. They do. But they get over it or they get fired.
Being consistent doesn’t feel nearly as cool as being clever. But if you want to create a consistent brand, cleverness has to take a back seat in this part of your company. Trust that your team’s cleverness can be better spent elsewhere. This concept is especially important for startups, where a company’s culture and look is still developing.
So, how do I start creating a consistent brand?
Choose guidelines, and know why you chose them. Going through this process intentionally helps avoid the trap of changing your look too often. Brand guidelines are an important marketing tool for growing businesses that let you know what to expect of yourself and your designers. Brand guidelines define color choice, font choice, logo usage, photography style and can include much more. Extensive brand guidelines go beyond the visual part of your brand and establish rules for a consistent voice and brand promise. Remember, customers who know what to expect from you are more likely to remain customers.
You can create brand guidelines internally or hire an agency. Either way, the introduction of your guidelines should include conversations with your entire team on how you developed them, and training on how to use them effectively. Taking time to explain the reasons behind the rules builds internal loyalty and buy-in. When your team respects the choices, your customers are much more likely to see a consistent brand.
We love opportunities to help companies create visual consistency, and brand guidelines are one of our areas of expertise. Take a look at some brand guidelines we’ve created. If you have more questions on branding and the importance of consistency, please reach out! We’d love to hear from you.
BONUS EXAMPLE: It’s What’s on the Inside That Counts
Branding goes far beyond a logo, it’s infused into every part of your product. Take pizzas for example: Looking at these pizzas outside of their branded boxes, can you tell the difference between Digiorno, Dominos and California Pizza Kitchen?
Not too hard, right? (Domino’s, California Pizza Kitchen, DiGiorno) Each of these companies have created expectations, and when customers know what to expect, their brains are free to focus on something else… like how to stop eating so much pizza.