14 STEPS FOR MAKING YOUR BRAND IDENTITY MORE CONSISTENT
With so much content running through an organization, from advertisement campaigns and branded marketing materials to social media updates and digital media content, it is easy to see how an organization could get a little lost while trying to keep lasting brand identity.
Many people creating many branded elements can make it difficult to maintain things aligned. For both big companies and small business, it can be easy to turn off course, sometimes without even realizing it.
The lack of consistency may not be evident at first, but failing to identify and stick to a consistent brand identity can eventually have a severe impact. The brand can become unreliable, disjointed, and divided so much that it confuses clients, customers, employees, and even the executive team.
So, if you feel like you are starting to lose the identity of your brand throughout your organization, use the following steps to get back on course.
1. UNDERSTAND WHY A CONSISTENT BRAND MATTERS
It is hard to put any plan into action when you do not understand why you are doing it. So first, you have to know why consistent branding matters. Also, train your team to follow the same, so they see the value of inconsistent brand positioning.
A consistent brand matters because of it:
Projects professionalism. A cohesive brand looks more professional than an opponent that is all over the place with their identity and marketing.
Establishes authenticity. When you stay true tо a core identity, it determines that the identity is a part of whо you are, not just something you designed for promotional purposes or marketing.
Provides clarity. A consistent position clears up any uncertainty that clients may have about who your company is and what you stand for.
Builds trust. Clients are more likely to trust an organization that presents an authentic professional and a clear brand image.
Offers internal direction. Being clear about brand identity also helps executive teams and employees stay aligned with core values and positioning.
Provides simplicity. When you have a defined brand image, it is easier to make branding and marketing decisions because you have an existing plan to guide you.
A brand is not just about the way a company’s logo looks. It’s about who they are and why they are in business, so be sure to document those guidelines and values.
2. KNOW THE BUSINESS
The essential step of an identity engagement is developing a complete understanding of the company. You cannot begin to predict the future without looking at the past. Do your research.
Organize meetings and talk to employees across a wide range of departments to start to understand the company’s real personality. This’ll help you get the company’s voice and be able to represent it.
3. UNDERSTAND HOW BRAND IDENTITY AFFECTS THE BOTTOM LINE
Brand identity is not just about what looks the prettiest. It should have a direct link back to the business plan. People all have their tastes as to what looks best visually, but what is most significant is how the visual design will push the business forward. Is the main goal of the company to come across as stable and strong? Nimble and intelligent? Pioneering and creative? Those attributes are all reflected in very many visual representations, and your identity should reflect that.
4. CREATE A BRAND GUIDE
Once you realize the value of a consistent brand, you’ll see why a brand guide is a critical business document. Every business, both small and big, should have a complete brand guide with sections related to:
-Value propositions and differentiators;
-Voice and tone;
-Fonts and typography;
-Photography and graphic styles.
As you build your handbook, look at examples of brand guides to get ideas for forming a document that establishes guidelines and helps keep your entire business on the same page.
5. CIRCULATE THE BRAND GUIDE
Branding seems like a point that is reserved for the design and marketing departments, but it should be incorporated into a whole organization.
Because the brand guide explains not only how the company is offered, but also on what the organization is established, it needs to be available to all departments including:
Sales teams: so they know how to present the brand vаlues to customers.
Product prоduction: so they know how to packaging and design products to match the style of the brand.
Third-party freelancers and consultants: so they can immediately learn how to replicate the unique voice and tone of the brand.
Potential partners: so they can recognize an organization’s core values before forming a partnership.
A brand guide serves as a valuable resource for all layers of a business and even some people outside of the origination.
6. AUDIT AND UPDATE EXISTING BRANDED MATERIALS
Once you establish consistent and clear brand guidelines, put them to work. Audit and update all of your existing branded materials to be certain that they equal to the new brand guide.
Update the public marketing resources such as:
-Social media profiles;
-Social media posts;
But, do not forget the subtle elements of your business that also represent your brands such as store decor, on-hold messaging, labels and packaging, overhead music and employee uniforms.
Remember, your brand is not just about placing your logo in the right place. It is about the entire client experience. Your brand should be consistently represented at each client-facing touchpoint within your company.
7. DEVELOP A VISUAL BRAND IDENTITY
The next step is to transpose these brand values into something visual. This is where your business website and logo come in. Before you can start to form your site, you need to register a domain name; this creates your web address and should be the same as your brand name.
Once you have chosen and registered a domain name, no one else can use it, so this is also a critical part of protecting your brand. Getting a domain is a relatively straightforward process – check the availability of your desired name, register it online and it is yours. You can then continue to create your website. The colors, font, and overall design should all reflect your core brand values and the whole vibe you are going for, so choose carefully. The same goes for your logo; before you start, it is worth giving a sight at this guide to common logo design mistakes and how to avoid them.
8. FIND YOUR VOICE
Every brand requires a voice, and consistency is essential. If your brand were to speak, what would it sound like? Find a tone that matches both your target audience and your core values – be it down-to-earth and casual or informative and formal.
Your brand voice will define the way you communicate with your clients, so it is essential to get it right. As with all features of branding, the brand voice must be consistent throughout, regardless of whether you’re writing a blog post for your website or posting on social media. Learn more about why the tone of voice is so necessary with these branding success stories.
9. TELL A STORY
The brand identity should evoke a feeling in your clients, speak for the brand, and tell a story about where the company is going. Your clients should quickly understand something about the brand just by observing its visual personality. Amazon is a good example, with its subtle, arrow-based smile signifying the fulfilling feeling of happiness that clients get from the no-stress shopping experience on the site.
10. ESTABLISH CORE VALUES
Having recognized the basic qualities of your brand, it’s now time to mold these into solid brand values. Core brand values are what your organization stands for; they’re the pillars of your brand identity and will be used to build relationships with your clients.
Apple is synonymous with innovation; your brand values should be reflected in everything you do. Avoid general terms like “trustworthy” and “reliable” concentrate instead on what truly sets you apart. Think about what you, as a business, are excited about and why your clients would choose you over your competitors. These are your main brand values, and they’ll be used to shape every aspect of your brand.
11. DESIGN FOR ADAPTABILITY
Your brand identity isn’t just one stagnant image. It needs to be able to adapt and change based on the medium. It moves without saying that social media is a necessary component to today’s brands. When designing a brand identity, you must take into account all the different mediums across which the brand will exist, and create something that is flexible enough to remain identifiable across all channels.
12. DO NOT LAUNCH A NEW IDENTITY IN ISOLATION
When launching a new brand identity, it’s most strategic to start alongside another piece of a new initiative or company news. The inescapable fact is that people do not like change and no matter how fantastic the design, some percentage of your client base won’t like it. By following the brand identity with a corresponding announcement, you can support the change beyond just aesthetics and prove to clients why it is required.
In 2010, The Gap released a new logo. Panned by clients and critics for the design itself, the logo did not say anything new about the clothing brand. The logo wasn’t introduced to drive anything transitional larger about the brand and eventually meant there was no reason to keep it around after the strong backlash, and the previous logo was reintroduced quickly.
Creating a robust brand personality is both a science and an art. But, by mixing research, creativity, and data, you can create a final product that resonates with clients and drives the whole company forward.
13. BRING YOUR BRAND TO LIFE
Your brand identity now has a unique and clear identity – all that is left to do is share it with the world. You can start creating brand awareness through email marketing, social media, video marketing and even blog content; whichever channels work best for your target audience.
No matter what your marketing policy, remember the brand personality you have built and make sure it shines through at every given opportunity. This way, your audience recognize and gets to know your brand – thus laying the foundations for long-term engagement.
14. CREATE A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Once you go through steps, your work is not over. Failing to follow through with this final step will take right back where you started – slowly shifting away from your core brand personality.
Without a plan for doing to consistency in the future, you put yourself at risk for falling back into your old ways and losing your identity. So, create a plan for the future.
Schedule an annual update for your brand strategy. Maintaining a consistent brand is necessary, but that does not mean you should not evolve. Schedule a time to review and update your brand plan as your organization grows and changes.
Schedule an annual update for your design components. Trends change and style so branded elements also need to evolve.
Schedule a bi-annual content audit. Check in to make sure that the design and creative departments are sticking to the set guidelines.
Checking in and ensuring that you are aligned with your brand guide will provide clarity for clients, customers, employees, potential partners, and executive teams. So, do not put off these 14 simple steps.
Create and stick to a brand plan will help your company stand out, build trust, and present a memorable experience for every person who connects with your organization.
Since branding is a never-ending adventure, you should be open to further development. When you work towards branding consistency, it helps to make your business more result-driven and scalable. What is your unique strategy for making your brand identity more consistent?