In my last post, I wrote about the importance of consistency in branding. However, I want to take the time to also talk about ways to keep your identity and branding from looking stale.
Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is that your brand is a living entity and will experience growth and change. The key is to have enough elements remain consistent that you can play with other elements.
Timeless brands are like timeless fashions
A good analogy is how individuals wear their clothes and style their hair. There are some people who are always up-to-date with fashion: if you first met them in 1982 and they were wearing parachute pants, you may not be surprised to see them in 1992 wearing an oversized flannel shirt. In contrast, there are some people who have a timeless style. They purchase classic clothes, and are never very trendy.
A third group is those folks who seem stuck in a different era. They are still wearing their Flashdance inspired cut-off sweat shirts, and have a poofy perm.
Of all these groups, I’d suggest you want to avoid the third category for you logo and branding. And while many aspire to be cool and trendy, it can be more upkeep than starting with a more classic look. Just like having some classic pieces in your wardrobe and spicing them up with accessories, it is far better to pick a timeless, non-trendy design and then you are able to work with it and incorporate smaller design elements to hang off of it. A well-designed logo will be a good investment for your company.
What does this look like?
Updating your brand means that while you keep things consistent, there are elements that change over time. Here are few examples you may want to try:
- Changing your non-key colors: Your web site should stick with your main color palette, but background could colors change. A few years ago, there were many web sites with gray backgrounds to the main body area. Recently, white backgrounds are favored. This is a change that would freshen up your site while maintaining your corporate color palette.
- Updating photographs: In both web design and print design, outdated photos will make everything look old. The hairstyles, clothing and even styles of lighting and posing models changes over time. Take a look at any stock or royalty-free photos you are using and see if replacing them might make your materials look more up-to-date.
- Cleaning up contact info on business cards: Over the past few years business owners have more and more ways to keep in touch. First it was fax machines, then it was email and cell phones and now you may also use Skype, Facebook, Twitter or Facebook. If you’ve been squeezing this new information on your business cards without looking at the design, take a step back and reassess. By adjusting the layout and re-typesetting your cards you can make them more readable and freshen up the look without tinkering with the logo or other key elements.
- Scaling elements differently: In both web and print design you can work with the same elements but emphasize them differently. A decision like this could be purely visual—decide to make your headlines larger, but in a lighter font. Or, they could be driven by your changing business—reorganizing web site navigation or elements on a printed page will make certain information more prominent. If you have changed the scope of services you offer, this is a particularly helpful change to consider.
To get impact from your identity and branding, you need to maintain consistency. This is what helps you become recognizable and build the trust of your prospects. However, you want to make sure your web site, printed marketing materials or identity does not look stale or out-of-date. Work with your designer to help them design materials for you that keep building your brand, while remain fresh.