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Brand Clarity: How to be Consistent with your Branding

Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Branding & Marketing Tips, Graphic Design Tips | 0 comments

Brand Clarity: How to be Consistent with your Branding

Brand Clarity

Visual Outpourings

Having a clear picture of what your business “looks” and “feels” like…its visual identity, personality, vibe, story, message…is so incredibly important for running a sustainable business. These are all characteristics that make up your branding.

Your logo, website, letterhead, signage, advertisements, brochures, business cards….all of these things are what I call your business’ visual outpourings.

Visual outpourings should all be consistently branded, meaning they should share similar visual and vocal characteristics.

Being aware of your brand’s visual characteristics will save you time and money, whether you’re working with a graphic designer or DIY-ing your marketing materials. very nice site cheap viagra

Being aware of your brand’s personality and voice will make writing website copy and marketing literature so much easier.

How do you find brand clarity?

Something I include in my Website & Branding service packages is what I call a custom Brand Profile. This is a one-page visual representation of your business that you can use as a catalyst for inspiration. It includes various key elements – the most common being color palette, fonts, photos (ones we use or ones to inspire, like a vision board), keywords or “buzz words”, and of course, your logo(s). can you take two 5mg cialis

I use the Brand Profile as a guide for all design work I do for my clients. Once a visual brand’s elements have been chosen (fonts, colors) or designed (logos, symbols, custom photography), they go in the Brand Profile and that becomes my go-to guide for creating all the graphics for your website (like buttons, banners, ads, opt-in areas, and so many other things).

It continues to be a source of inspiration for designing business cards, letterhead, and any other promotional materials my clients use to tell their audience about their business.

It’s also a helpful tool for you if you do any DIY work. For example, maybe you have an event or a sale coming up and you need a quick flyer made up in Word to print at home. Instead of throwing a bunch of fonts and colors together haphazardly, you can use your Brand Profile to guide you. It helps you keep all your business’ visual outpourings consistent.

Example of a Brand Profile

This is a Brand Profile I created for Carina Lyall. Carina already had her website set up when we started working together, but she wanted my help as a graphic designer to identify her visual brand and implement it more consistently. So I made her Brand Profile a little differently. I included the designs I’ve created for her already to remind her of how her key brand elements look in action. It’s really important to see that, and it’s a great exercise to do when you get stuck or feel your promotional materials are veering off the path.

Brand Profile for Carina Lyall

Brand Clarity Exercise

Are you clear about your brand? Or are you kind of all over the place with the visual outpourings of your business? If you have been DIY-ing your promotional materials for awhile, or even from the very beginning, here’s a great exercise to see how you’re doing.

1. Gather all or as many of the following files as you can find together in a folder on your computer’s Desktop.

  • Your logo
  • Website buttons (Examples: social media buttons, “buy now” buttons, “sign up” buttons, or special buttons promoting a product or service)
  • Website banners or headers
  • Or, alternatively, take a screenshot of your website
  • All of your most recent web and print advertisements (business cards, brochures, rack cards, etc..)

2. Click through each image, and view them as if you were seeing them for the first time. Write down the following on a piece of paper:

  • Identify the colors you’ve used. If they don’t look good together, choose one or two of your favorites and develop a color palette from there.  A good rule of thumb I use is to have about 3-5 colors max – 2 dominant colors, and the rest, accent colors.
  • Identify no more than 2-3 fonts you use consistently, and what type of content you use them for (headings, body text, etc). If you tend to use a lot of different fonts, choose the 2 or 3 that work best together. Sans serif fonts have no extra strokes extending off the stems and corners of letters, so they work really well for body content because it makes big blocks of text like paragraphs easier to read. Both serif and sans-serif fonts work well for headings and accent fonts. There are exceptions, of course, so I suggest experimenting with fonts in different ways to see what looks best for your brand!
  • Identify any shapes, symbols, and textures you have used. Which ones make sense for your overall look?
  • Make a list of keywords that you would use to identify your business, your mission, your offerings and your audience.

3. Now take this list and apply it to all of your future marketing materials.

Be consistent each time you create something new to promote your business. Use the keywords to guide your copywriting. Use the visual elements to guide your eye for design. This will save you so much time and stress – there’s no need for nit-picking when you know what colors and fonts to use! It will portray your business more professionally, instilling more confidence in your customers because it shows them that you invest in creating a clear and solid message. It will also make you feel more confident knowing you’ve released something to the world that truly honors your business…sort of like you’ve just put together the perfect outfit to wear!

If you have an image editing program like Photoshop or Gimp, why not make your own visual Brand Profile? Feel free to use mine as inspiration!

When is it okay to play around a bit with branding?

You don’t always have to follow your Brand Profile to a T. There are opportunities where it would be appropriate to “play around” a little with colors and fonts. For example, your blog’s feature images. You can play with different fonts and colors to match the subject matter. Another one would be for special occasion promo materials, like Christmas or Halloween ads. Just be sure you use some identifiable brand elements in these instances.

Also…brand identities change! They evolve as you and your business evolve. Maybe green was a dominant color in your palette when you began your business, but now you’re shifting your focus a bit and feel that maybe blue tones would make more sense. That’s perfectly normal! You don’t have to feel stuck in your brand just because your website is still covered in green tones. Working with a graphic designer can make re-branding a relatively smooth process, as would working with a web designer who can plug in the newly branded graphics for you. If you DIY re-brand, tackle one project at a time. Start with the most visible things – your logo, signage, and website – so that you can work your way through the smaller, simpler elements like letterhead, brochures, and flyers without confusing your audience too much. You can even send a “please excuse the dust” email out to your list telling them about the re-brand process.

Do you have a grip on your visual branding, or do you feel it’s gotten a little out of control? Other than the exercise above, what ways can you make your business’ visual outpourings more consistent?
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