What is a brand?
The colors, fonts, patterns, layout, interactive elements, textures, logo and graphic style used in your marketing efforts make up the visual aspects of your brand. All of theses pieces come together in a way that communicates the personality of your business. Your brand will set you apart from your competition.
There are three main reasons small businesses struggle to maintain brand consistency. Often times startups will skimp on their branding by designing their own logo, asking a family member to do it or using crowdsourcing sites. This usually leaves the business owner with a logo and not much thought put towards their branding as a whole. It is up to them to decide what fonts pair well with their logo and what colors they should use. Lacking a style guide makes consistent branding impossible. With so many different channels to advertise through, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain brand consistency. There are different social media platforms all requiring different image dimensions, websites that need to work on a variety of devices, business cards, email marketing, brochures, digital ads, newspaper ads, billboards, magazine ads, koozies … the list of advertising mediums seems to increase by the minute. Small business owners (and marketing managers) get bored with using the same fonts, colors and logos on all of their promotional materials. Wanting to introduce something new and exciting to catch the attention of their audience, they introduce new elements outside of the initial branding.
In the minds of your customers, consistency equals trust. Although your customers may be experiencing your brand through various mediums (in store visits, promotional mailers, Facebook ads), the more consistently the brand is delivered the more they will believe the company to be dependable. Mere Exposure is a psychological influence technique used in advertising to make a brand more favorable to an audience simply through repeated exposure. Cocal-Cola has made minor adjustments to their logo during the past 120+ years. Their consistency has done wonders to make their brand recognizable. Think of product placement in movies. Coca-Cola can pay to have their soda can strategically placed in a movie, and their brand is recognizable in split second because anyone who sees the red can and white script font immediately knows what the brand is.
How to Maintain Consistency
Invest in a quality brand. Make sure your graphic designer provides you with a style guide so you can easily keep the look consistent. Head over to my service offerings to see if this is something I can help you with.
Stay organized. As simple as this sounds, few small business owners take the time to curate a digital folder containing the necessary elements to maintain their brand. Create a centralized folder (Dropbox makes this very easy to share with others) to contain correct logo files, the logo usage guide, fonts, colors, written tone guide and any other files that help keep your brand on track. Make this folder accessible to any team members who assist with advertising.
Value your marketing dollars. Every marketing dollar contributes toward getting your brand in front of more eyes. If you are spending time and money on a magazine ad, for example, make sure that you are valuing that investment by submitting artwork that is clearly recognizable as your brand. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition.
Only use the channels that you have time to maintain. Figure out a few places where your target audience hangs out and focus your efforts there. It takes a little effort to keep your brand in-tune and a realistic number of channels will help make that a reality. Quality is important in maintaining trust with your audience.
Remember that consistency is not boring. Although you and your team may get a little tired of your color pallet, know that frequently changing the branding elements creates a negative effect on your audience. This implies that your company is not sure of its identity causing customers to anticipate inconsistent experiences.