While a strong and consistent visual identity is critical to a successful brand, your company’s brand is much more than a logo and visuals. We want to discuss why a strong visual brand is important to consistent branding overall, but first, let’s cover some brand basics.
According to Seth Godin, author of Linchpin, Tribes, and many other books, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter, or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
To boil it down, your brand is why you do what you do, how you talk, how you treat others. It’s the essence of who you are and how you do business.
Building a brand platform
When you build a brand, you make a commitment to the consumer. You must decide what that commitment or brand promise is. Your brand platform is a document that brings together all the components that define who you are as an organization. Though elements may vary depending on the business you are in, typically, a brand platform will include:
- Value proposition/differentiators
- Visual identity
- Brand personality
- Brand voice
Your brand platform serves to provide direction for the teams creating messaging, websites, and other collateral materials. But it should also be integrated into everything you do. It should be the basis for strategic planning, who you hire, how you interact with your customers, what new products you plan to introduce, etc.
Why consistent branding is important
When executed correctly, your brand can be your organization’s strongest asset. It’s what differentiates you from your competitors and creates instant recognition in the marketplace. To continually protect and enhance your image, consistent branding is vital.
If every team member is not upholding your brand, it can be difficult to maintain a cohesive brand image. When everyone understands why consistent branding is important and works as ambassadors of the brand, they can truly appreciate why it should be a priority.
Benefits of consistent branding
Credibility. By communicating professionally and consistently, your brand will build credibility and instill trust. A brand that projects a consistent polished image conveys strength and competence. When brands are inconsistent, trust is eroded.
Signifies stability. Given the choice would you prefer to do business with a brand that’s dependable or unreliable? A strong cohesive brand sends a powerful message that your company is secure, ultimately resulting in repeat business and greater financial return.
Stronger relationships. Consumers want to buy from brands they know and trust. When you consistently demonstrate who you are and what you stand for, consumers feel like they know you and can identify with you. This helps your brand build emotional bonds with consumers and increase loyalty.
Brand consistency also helps a company build stronger relationships internally. Employees take pride in being part of a strong core brand and can be inspiring brand advocates that work on your behalf. When they value the importance of branding consistency, they truly understand that they are stronger when they “speak as one.” A well-defined brand platform as a guide also simplifies strategic and marketing decision making.
Brand recognition. Consistent branding increases recall and retention. People need to hear or see a message again and again before it starts to break through the clutter. A cohesive brand allows you to reinforce your message and build relationships every time you communicate with your audience.
Developing your visual brand
Your visual brand identity is one of the most significant elements of your brand. For the more creative business folks, it can also be the most fun. Inconsistent visuals dilute your brand and leave consumers feeling disconnected.
Your logo is the cornerstone of your visual brand identity. While a logo alone can’t make a great brand, a logo IS the face of your business. Used repeatedly at every opportunity, it will help you increase recognition and build trust.
Studies show that it only takes consumers 10 seconds to form an impression of your logo, but it requires 5-7 impressions to actually recognize your logo. If you’re tempted to use different variations of your logo, resist.
While your logo is the foundation of your visual identity, it is not the only component. Your visual brand helps to shape perceptions about your business and demonstrates the characteristics of your brand personality. Are you fun and quirky? A trusted authority figure? Do you provide inspiration?
When a consumer visits your website or sees a collateral piece your visual elements should be working in concert to tell them how to feel about your brand. Several elements make up a visual identity:
- Font or typography
- Use of icons
- Use of imagery
- Overall mood or “feel”
Build your visual brand identity using these elements and deliver it consistently to increase recognition and build credibility. In a world where consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages every single day, recognition equates to value. Consistent branding delivers that value.
This doesn’t mean that every piece of marketing collateral should look identical. What you’re striving for is visual cohesion. Ever see an ad for Target and before the logo even appears you just know it’s a Target ad? Target’s use of consistent imagery, the color red and a simple, yet fun and stylistic feel conveys almost immediate brand recognition.
Speaking of “Target red,” let’s talk for a second about color because it’s very influential when it comes to brand recognition.
According to a University of Loyola Study, a signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%. The right color can also improve readership by 40%. Color is one of the first things our brains perceive from a brand. Starbucks really leverages its use of “Starbucks Green.”
A cohesive visual brand helps consumers make instant connections. Use your visual identity consistently across all channels to build recognition and trust. Don’t overlook any touch points or opportunities to reinforce the confidence consumers have in your brand.
- Business cards
- Social media
- Marketing collateral
- Direct mail
- Overall mood or “feel”
Consistency in branding is important to businesses of all sizes. Consistent branding requires discipline, but the brand equity you build will be well worth the effort. Value what your brand means to your business and protect it by staying “on-brand” at every opportunity. Consistent branding will help you break through the clutter and rise above the competition!
> Just starting to build your brand? Take a look at some of our logo designs to get inspired!