A Guide for Entrepreneurs and Rebranded Companies
A brand is only as good as its brand consistency. Solid branding provides the road map and guide rails for visually communicating your identity, values, and ethos as a company or organization. Consistency must be established during and after the design phase, in the initial roll out, as well as its usage thereafter. This includes the copyrighting, marketing and every other visual element.
Imagine something with me for a moment. If you’re in the States, you walk into Starbucks. Or in Israel, you walk into Aroma. All of the store signs, logos and marketing material have been removed. Do you know where you are? Of course you do! They have a defined and recognized brand. Even though every store is a different size or layout you know where you are because these places have brand consistency. You can identify it by several visual cues. This is established brand recognition.
The process of developing a brand as a designer is involved. There are hours of creative brainstorm, research, analysis, strategy and then design. It’s more than the logo and a nice color palette alone, but encompasses the overall aesthetics and the tone of the voice. This involves words, images, layout, the visual do’s and don’ts, logo usage, fonts, print and web design, UI and more.
Here are examples of how a defined branding stretches beyond the logo and color palette alone:
In a midwest eldercare facility their culture is one of honor for the elderly. This value is communicated in their use of photography. Their brand guidelines require the use of images that have caregivers or family members at eye level with the elderly and never standing over them. It visually communicates their value of honor for the elderly without words.
For a mature software company, complex and intricate in its advanced abilities but easy to use and made for a predominantly blue-collar clientele, their use of white space and a friendly, down-to-earth tone in copyrighting is an essential part of their branding. It visually communicates their ease of use and approachability. A complex, detail-oriented layout and description with language that’s technologically advanced would not be as palatable for their niche, and they would possibly be seen as irrelevant.
I’m enjoying a US show called The Profit which is hosted by Marcus Lemonis, an experienced entrepreneur. Marcus invests in small to mid-size businesses and specifically those who need investment capital and operational coaching. The reality show tells the story of a business, where they are needing help, and how he invests in and develops them. Many are product-based and some have multiple storefront locations. It’s interesting to see how many of the struggling businesses have solid branding (or don’t), and of those with multiple locations if they have any visual consistency.
If a company has invested time and resource into developing a brand why would they not use it?
Years ago I worked with a lovely lady who was self-funding the launch of her first business. The result of previously trying to save money on design resulted in a cheap-looking, clip-art-rendition logo. When she came for postcard designs we requested to brand her product line. Common to new entrepreneurs, a semi cliché icon and a color palette of personal taste was requested. We researched the market, competitors, niche, evaluated the product and product line development plans. As a result we designed a modern icon and a color palette suited to the product line itself, so as to be viable for a wider market reach rather than appealing to her personal taste. The outcome was revolutionary. A product line emerged with market viability in its new brand.
The labels and packages were printed and assembled. The brochure and postcards designed and sent. All was great until the shop was opened. The walls were painted and furniture pieces chosen according to personal taste, rather than the branding. There was no visual connection or continuity between the shop and the product line which defused the purpose of branding. The cost, time, and effort to produce the brand became useless without brand consistency.
Brand consistency has the ability to establish a known identity and thus build trust in the market, in your niche, and with your potential clientele base.
In a developing relationship one would not present themselves repeatedly with a different personality, hair color, accent, and intelligible level of relating. Consistency naturally builds relational trust, and thus viability and value. Accurately expressing value and content needs to be met with a consistent experience. As well, being easy to understand is key to relevance.
I recommend to contract with a designer or agency for consulting following brand development. This should come in play as the brand gets applied whether that be office design, signage, print and marketing materials, so forth. If budget is a concern consider it this way: Can you afford to throw away the time and resource of the branding? Lack in consistency is to throw it away.
I hope this article and its examples, stories and tips are helpful for you in your branding journey. If you have questions concerning your brand viability and/or questions on how to establish brand consistency, please drop us a line on our contact page and request a brand consultation.