Branding is not just the work I do; it’s one of my obsessions. (Other obsessions include sequins, #vannin, and Back to the Future.) While there are certainly best practices for branding, I tend not to follow secret formulas or get uptight about tactics when I’m working with clients. The Jamie Leigh Guide to Branding Fundamentals is a five-part series that introduces you to some of the principles, psychology, and processes that I’ve developed in my 15+ years of working with online business owners. Whether you’re starting from scratch with a new business idea or contemplating a re-brand of your current business, this series will help you approach your branding project with greater know-how and ease (because we could all use more of that in our lives).
In the final post of this branding series, I want to reveal the linchpin for success in building a standout brand.
Are you still reading? It’s true that consistency is a topic that’s not as sexy or fun as colours, fonts, and logos.
But making a commitment to brand consistency and developing guidelines that you and your staff can use is fundamental to creating a world-class brand.
Brand consistency matters for anyone who wants to build a brand with lasting impact that stands out from the crowd.
Let’s examine what it means to be consistent with your brand and how to develop guidelines that you and your staff can use.
Your Brand as an Experience
The first thing I want you to think about is this:
Branding is an experience that combines all your brand elements into a cohesive, compelling visual identity and repeats them over and over again. It’s not just about your colours, fonts, and logo—it’s about the way these three elements interact and mesh to evoke the feelings you want to evoke in your audience.
Your brand is essentially your vibe: the way people feel when they interact with your products, services, media, and messaging–basically any part of your business.
Consistency works silently for you behind the scenes to build your brand’s trust and professionalism in the eyes of your clients and customers. Brand consistency makes you memorable, differentiating you from others in your industry.
Ideally, when potential and current customers and clients interact with your brand, they are reassured as they both subconsciously and consciously recognize branding elements from previous interactions with your company. This generates feelings of trust that are essential for repeat customers and successful businesses.
Let’s use the example of purchasing a cup of coffee to demonstrate what I’m talking about here with your brand as an experience.
The first time you walk into a new coffee shop, you likely make the choice from its outer appearance. What does the building look like? Are the lights on inside? Can you see inside? Is it welcoming? As you walk inside, you notice how easy it is to open the door. You take in the colors and materials of floor, the walls and ceiling, the seating options. What does the coffee shop smell like? As you approach the counter to order, are the baristas smiling and welcome? How do they greet you? What are they wearing? How do you pay?
When you get your cup of coffee, what is the cup like—color and material? Do the staff thank you? When you step outside, could you remember what their logo was? Brand colours? Font? Maybe you can’t remember any of that, but you do remember how the staff and overall vibe of the place made you feel.
For the sake of this example, let’s pretend that you enjoyed the experience enough to return. Is it the same positive experience on the second visit? Or do you notice that this time they’re using cups that don’t feel good in your hands or the bathroom door doesn’t have a lock or the front door doesn’t open easily.
Your brand is an experience that your customers want to enjoy. And they want to be able to enjoy and trust the experience in every interaction with you.
Developing and Using Your Brand Guidelines
Once you’ve decided on your brand colours, font, and logo, the first step to developing your brand guidelines is to put them all in one document. (If you’re working with a pro designer, they’ll do this for you.)
Here’s what to include in your brand guidelines document:
- Your company’s mission, vision, goals, and values
- A description of your Most Valued Customer
- Voice and tone of your copy
- The conversations in which your brand participates
- Your colour scheme
- Your fonts and usage
- Your logo(s) and usage
- Photography guidelines
- Illustrations and graphics guidelines
- Videography guidelines
It’s one thing to know your brand guidelines. It’s another thing to actually use them in your day-to-day marketing and branding efforts.
When can you use your brand colours and how? What fonts do you use for headlines and which do you use for social media graphics? Are there certain ways your logo should never appear? These are the kinds of questions to address in your brand guidelines document.
Writing down a set of standards creates consensus and direction for you and your staff or contractors.
Your brand guidelines also help you recognize how your brand is working for you even when you’re not “there.” It’s an extension of your business that is interacting with your clients and customers on a subtle level.
This is the final post in The Jamie Leigh Guide to Branding series. It’s my goal that this content gave you ideas for developing your visual brand and introduced you to design language that can support any projects with a designer.
Are there any branding questions you still have that I didn’t cover in this series? Leave a comment below and let me know!
And if you know, in your heart of hearts, that your current brand isn’t aligned with your big, bodacious dreams for your business, I’d love to work with you.