The Logo Design Process: From Concept to Completion
May 5, 2023 |
September 26, 2023
Do you ever think about brand consistency? Have you ever asked yourself questions like “Would my brand pour like water, or would it be more viscous like honey?” or “Could I stir my brand easily?” or even “Would my brand hold its shape outside of a container?” If not … good! That’s the other definition of consistency, and though it may be an interesting thought experiment, it is far outside the scope of this article.
When we talk about brand consistency, we are looking for “agreement or harmony of parts or features to one another or a whole” (thanks Merriam-Webster). Brand consistency is incredibly important in creating brand recognition, trust, and efficiency. With all that in mind, it’s essential that we understand the key parts of a brand.
Let’s start with the obvious—when most people think of a brand, they think “logo.” A logo is an undeniably important part of a brand—it is also the tip of the tip of our brand iceberg. We can group our logo in with the rest of our visual identity which includes the typography we use, color palette, iconography styles, photography styles, all the way down to the nitty-gritty of how buttons look on our website.
A great way to ensure that your visual identity remains consistent is to create and use a brand style guide. This will typically include technical guidance on things like color values, fonts and how they are used, perhaps photography examples and usage guidelines, and even rules on how much white space should be around your logo and which logo variation to use how, and where. Without these guidelines, anyone working with the visual representation of your brand is doing a lot of guesswork, and we all know what they say about people who make assumptions. Remove the guesswork—create a brand style guide.
As we move under the surface, there are some equally important aspects of a brand that are often ignored; these normally become the first victims of inconsistency. Your tone and voice are how you verbally communicate your brand—from a social post caption to blogs and press releases. Every time our brand speaks, we need to use the same tone of voice—whether you bring the dad joke energy or you’re serious and sincere, it is important to be consistent.
Changing your voice between pieces of content makes your brand feel disjointed. One moment you’re all roses, then you skip lunch and become irritable—your friends have no idea what made you so angry. They start to give you a wide berth because they don’t know how to interact with you anymore. Great branding is all about relationship building, and consistency in how you communicate is key to your customers understanding their relationship with you.
And still, we go deeper. Foundational to your verbal and visual identity are your values. Consistency all the way through is key: if professionalism is one of your core values, but you’re consistently posting dad jokes on social media and using Comic Sans as your core brand font, you can’t be surprised if your clients go elsewhere looking for professionalism.
How our brand looks and sounds is how our brand feels and how our brand is recognized. Start with your values, these should encompass how you show up every day. Once your whole team understands these, you can use them to influence your verbal and visual choices and create a consistent thread throughout your brand.
Simply put: keeping your brand consistent makes it more memorable. Often as brand owners, we view consistency as boring. We long for the day when we can use a different font or maybe just tweak the brand colors a little bit … maybe use a gradient? But here’s the issue—you interact with your brand every day, it is front and center for you at every turn, and it is so familiar that it’s almost dull. On the other hand, your customers are exposed to hundreds of brands a day—just start to count up ads you see on social media, every website, billboards, posters, magazines, etc. and you will see the problem.
It’s a hard truth, but we have to face the fact that our brand will never be as important to anyone as it is to us. The only way to break through the noise is to get our brand in front of our target audience as often as possible and ensure that, when we do, the message we are sending is consistent almost to the point of repetitiveness.
That repetitiveness is important because it increases familiarity and with familiarity comes trust. Once a consumer understands your brand, their comfort increases, and they can start to trust you. Without trust, there is no foundation on which a customer is comfortable doing business. Whether it’s reading great reviews on an Amazon product or seeing a CEO get arrested on prime-time TV, trust can make or break a brand’s success. Trust starts with a developed understanding of who a brand is, what the brand stands for, and how it communicates—this understanding is almost impossible to achieve if your brand shows up differently in a Facebook post on Monday compared to an email newsletter you send on Thursday.
If I don’t want two-faced friends, I certainly don’t want to spend money with two-faced brands.
The advantages of brand consistency aren’t just external—focusing on brand consistency can lead to internal efficiencies too. While a great brand will still leave room for creativity within its boundaries, there is something to be said for the ability to use a consistent starting point. Standard examples include on-brand slide decks, reports, case study templates, branded letterheads, business cards, etc.—These kinds of “set and forget” brand assets mean that a team can save time from constantly reinventing the wheel. And that is just for in-house team members—if you ever use an external contractor for graphic design or blog writing, it is so much more efficient to hand that person a set of clear brand guidelines than it is to show them everything you have done historically and hope they get it—there is nothing more inefficient than 20 rounds of feedback.
By now, you should have a clear understanding of why brand consistency is important. Here are five questions that you can answer to get you on the road to a more consistent brand:
If these things don’t exist, then it will be almost impossible for your team to keep the brand consistent. Define your mission (your reason for existence), your vision (the ideal state your organization wants to achieve), and your values (the principles that guide your culture). Then build a visual and verbal identity that gives your brand a look and feel that represents those statements. Finally, enshrine these things in a clearly defined set of brand guidelines.
Everyone in your organization should be a champion of your brand, but there are certain people (both internal and external) who are creating more assets for your brand than others. Create a list of those people, and ensure that they are consistent in their approach.
Your brand is a living thing. Even if you have guidelines and great team members things will start to drift. It is always a good idea to conduct a brand audit every one to three years. A brand audit is a wide-ranging look at all your touchpoints and assets to ensure that they are presenting a consistent picture. Sometimes, the best way to do an audit is from an external viewpoint. If you think you are too close to your brand to be objective, then get in touch and let us handle it for you.
As I said: your brand is a living thing. Your client base might change over time, perhaps the products you offer evolve—your brand will probably evolve too. If a certain piece of inconsistency becomes … consistent, then that may just be your new key to success. For example, perhaps the people who tend to use your product are trending younger than your original target market and that really traditional sans-serif font is not serving you anymore. Your social media manager has never seen the brand guidelines and has been using a different font for six months, with good results. Don’t just tell the social media manager to go back to the old ways, check the results, and consider formally evolving your brand.
Ever heard the saying “build it and they will come”? That is not how brand guidelines work. You should be proud of your beautiful document that explains your mission, vision, values, and visual and verbal identity—show it off! Ensure that everyone on your team understands what your brand stands for, how it should look and feel, and why that’s important—then make sure again, and again—repetition isn’t just for external messaging.
Your brand appears in so many places that consistency can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Whether you need help bringing your brand to life with a strong foundation, bringing your brand back on track with an audit, or you need a team of experts to help direct your brand online, we’ve got you covered. Get started here.