Imagine you made a new friend (hard to imagine I know...!). Every time you see them, they are dressed impeccably and on trend. Then one day they come out looking tired, their clothes mismatched and scruffy. You would start to wonder what's up? Suddenly they start talking about topics you thought they had no interest in, they get angry if you say they are wrong and refuse to listen to your points. You would start to lose trust quite quickly in the person you thought they were.
Listen to Russell BRAND - see what I did there?
The same can be said for inconsistency in branding. But what is branding?
Good branding translates your company's personality into design.
Consistency is vital as this is how the world begins to recognise and trust your brand. Creating a solid style guide or what we like to call a "Brand Bible"assures you and your colleagues know how to communicate your brand effectively.
Let us dive into some slippery reasons why customers can start to question your brand identity:
1. Your Logo
Your Logo represents your company. Altering it, skewing it, squishing it, rotating it can seriously impact your brand identity. There should always be a brand exclusion zone mapped out in your style guide to avoid overlaps and brand confusion. See examples below.
2. Typography & Colour Palette
If I was writing an article lets say, and I suddenly started, I don't know, changing the font as I typed, it would look pretty crazy right? A business may have many company documents that they use for several reasons such as submissions, proposals, presentations etc. They most probably have a website too. If the typography rules (font, spacing, headings, subheadings) are not consistent, well it's like putting on a different voice every time you answer the phone. Same can be said for your brand's colour palette. I've often seen companies having just one primary brand colour which can become boring when used too often. Then there is the other extreme where secondary colours have not been chosen and there is just a plethora of clashing colours being thrown across documents. A small primary and secondary colour palette within the same colour family is all you need to maintain perfect brand harmony.
3. Graphics & Imagery
This is an area that can often be overlooked. Decide early on what kind of images and graphic styles are associated with your brand. If you are using icons in presentations for example, assure they are all the same style. The same goes for photography, stick with a certain style and just a side note - stay away from the over obvious stock photos! Nothing screams "this isn't my image" more than a generic multicultural, gender balanced board meeting or "the people in suits handshake" photo!
The language you use to express your brand can be very important. Is your style friendly, warm, playful & relaxed or technical, professional and to the point? This is why it is so important to know your target audience from the get go. Is your business B2B or B2C? Will people know what you're talking about if you go on a technical jargon rant? Like all the above points, be consistent and know who you are. Changing your tone of voice too much will leave people wondering who you are.
There should always be consistency on your website, seems like an obvious one right? But more often than not the relationship between the "person who does our website" and the people in your company who have the latest company news, updated staff profiles and new images may not be that well organised. Most companies outsource their website design and upkeep which can leave their website stagnant and out of date if a good relationship is not in place. Or worse yet, when one of your employees decides he or she "knows a bit of Wordpress" and muddles up your homepage beyond repair. When your customers land on your website you want it to be your storefront. After all it promotes you 24/7. Make sure you have a plan with your web designer, perhaps a retainer and set up a consistent time each week to add to your site and keep it fresh.
Well there you have it, all the little bits and bobs that should be included in a healthy, living, breathing style guide document.
If you or a member of your family have been affected by this article please contact The Rainbow Vault today.
Phone: +353 (0)1 517 5082
We can provide you with a Brand Bible and assure the future trust of your customers.
Hope you enjoyed!