Why Consistency Is So Important to Branding

April 30, 2009 | Branding

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You’ve probably heard it before, but in case you haven’t: it’s important to be consistent with your branding to have it be most effective.

What does consistency mean?

From a designer’s perspective, it means:

  • Using the same business name, logo, and/or logotype. Typesetting the name and other elements in a fixed fashion.
  • Choosing a couple of typefaces and using them all the time. Read these tips about working with fonts.
  • Choosing a corporate color, or color palette and using them as the dominant color scheme throughout your materials—printed or online.
  • Using consistent visual elements across media. Some examples are: always using a certain style of photography; or always setting quotations in Garamond Italic; or always have one large color block at the top of the page.
  • Creating “lock ups” for your elements. This means, for example, a certain way of setting the logo + tagline. These groupings become fixed.
  • Creating design systems that are similar throughout all of your materials. From a business card to a web site to an educational brochure, there should be certain elements that are always the same.

Branding IQ

Why is this important?

Avoid confusion
The obvious reason is that your potential clients and customers are being introduced to you and you don’t want to confuse them. As a small business, (in contrast to a well-known multi-national corporation) make it easy for someone to remember you by being consistent with how you present yourself. People take notice of certain elements, but can’t always remember all the details. For example, you meet a potential client at a networking event and give them your business card which features a large, red, circular logo. A few weeks later, that person is thinking they may need your services so they google your name and go to your web site. If they see a large, red, circular logo they feel confident that they’re at the right place. If, on your web site you show your logo (even the same graphic) in green, they will feel confused and question whether this is indeed the same person & company they had in mind.

People trust things that they know
The first example highlights the most basic type of confusion that can cost you sales. But often it is more subtle than that. Every time a potential client hears your business name or sees your logo it gets registered, even slightly, in their memory. The stronger a memory—and therefore connection—someone has to a brand, the more likely they are to buy from that brand. Consumers are more likely to choose brands that are familiar, because they seem known, established, and therefore trustworthy.

It makes business sense—increase your returns
Often, business owners make their corporate identity inconsistent without giving it much thought. One example is an entrepreneur who decides to hire a web development firm to create their web site and another design studio for their printed work, without having the two end products coordinated. In this example, you’ve paid for two projects but rather than having those two pieces compounding your brand and building them exponentially, you may end up with two unmatched or poorly matched marketing tools.  Therefore, the two pieces are not as effective in building brand recognition as one coordinated effort.

See my next post about how to keep your brand looking fresh—rather than stale and out-of-date—while still maintaining consistency.

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6 comments

  1. Jean I | May 5, 2009 at 10:18 am

    This is a great reminder. As a small business owner, I now have to choreograph the design among my web site, letterhead, business cards, and social media. Inconsistency would certainly lead to customer confusion.

    Another point that should be made is that a consistent design also strengthens any legal protections you may have. For example, I registered my business name/logo/color scheme as a service mark, and was able to defend it against a competitor who started using a similar name and color scheme. Consistency is key!

  2. Emily Brackett | May 5, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Jean, thanks for your feedback. And that’s a great note about trademarks and service marks, it’s part of what makes a brand so valuable.

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