4 Important Steps to Increase Brand Consistency
There’s no denying that branding is a highly complicated process. With hundreds of content, design, product, and marketing touchpoints, it takes a lot of work and people to create a seamless experience for customers.
Making sure the creation and maintenance of your brand is a collective effort–not bound to a person or a team–is essential to its authenticity and company-wide buy-in. However, with that many people involved, consistency can suffer, if the process is not well managed. Designs can begin to diverge. Branded content can become dissonant. And marketing campaigns can start to look unpredictable.
So, what do you do? How do you bring all of your brand’s elements together to create a consistent identity? And how do you synchronize your teams to make it happen?
First of all, let’s start by breaking down the specifics of brand consistency.
What is Brand Consistency?
Brand consistency is the process of keeping every piece of your brand, from your visuals to your voice, the same across all mediums and assets. It’s speaking in a consistent tone of voice on your social media channels, your blog and your website. It's providing a consistent experience at your brick-and-mortar locations, your retreats, your events, and your other in-person interactions. It’s infusing the same color palette into every iteration of your logo, products and print ads. And it’s using the same typography – whether that’s serif, sans serif, script or display – in all of your marketing collateral.
How Do You Increase Your Brand’s Consistency?
Well, there are a lot of things you can do. In fact, a quick Google search will bring up hundreds of tips and tricks to increase your brand consistency. But only a few of them will actually make a big difference for your brand. Here’s a list of the top four things you can do to start increasing the consistency of your brand right now:
1. Create Brand Guidelines
Before you can assign designers and content creators to start working on individual touchpoints and elements, you need to have a clear understanding of your brand. This means knowing what it stands for, what it looks like and how it speaks and interacts with people.
One of the best ways you can do this is by creating a set of brand guidelines that will act as the handbook for all of the projects that impact your brand. This should include a voice guide that details the tone, style, and language you need to use consistently to create your desired brand voice. It should also include a style guide that shows off the color palette, logo variations, patterns, and typography to be used for branded communication and customer-facing projects. Most importantly, your brand guidelines should incorporate your core messages – like your mission, vision and claim – as these are pillars that will guide all future marketing, sales and product development work you do for your brand.
These guidelines should be written down and organized intuitively, as well. Not only will doing so minimize confusion, but it will also make working on new types of content or designs easy – without veering off-brand. Frontify makes it easy to create and store these guidelines, by providing you with an intuitive dashboard where you can upload images, create color palettes, and do a whole lot more.
2. Audit Your Brand
Once you have your guidelines mapped out, conduct a brand audit. The goal is to make sure that everything you’re currently doing – particularly customer-facing things – are aligned with your brand guidelines.
Dig into your website to see if the copy on your core pages reflects the messaging and voice guidelines you decided on. Pop over to your social media channels and flip through your posts to see if the tone or style has deviated from your desired brand identity. Review ads you’re currently running, check in on email campaigns you're sending to subscribers, and skim posts and articles on your blog for brand consistency, as well.
Once you’ve looked over all of your assets, start making decisions about how to fix or phase out elements that aren’t supporting your branding. This may involve reworking content and designs that are in development, removing published content that isn’t on-brand, or something else entirely. In some cases, the issue may have already been resolved. However, it’s important to take note of the deviation anyway, so that you can catch similar issues more quickly in the future.
Most importantly, remember that this is an ongoing process. You may not need to conduct full-scale brand audits regularly, but by staying on top of it, you’ll be able to correct mistakes long before they become large, expensive and time-consuming problems.
3. Communicate & Collaborate
One thing businesses don’t often consider is the impact disparate teams and departments can have on their brand. They assume that with each group working on projects in their area of expertise, everything will end up coming together seamlessly. However, when people work in a vacuum, there’s a risk of veering off-brand.
The solution to this is two-fold. First, make sure your teams are aware of your expectations. Share your brand guidelines with them and make sure each team has easy access to core brand assets, like your logos, approved design templates and preselected fonts. This will ensure that all new projects will meet your brand guidelines – even when your employees are working in isolation.
Second, facilitate communication between individuals, teams, and departments. By keeping everyone connected, you’ll create opportunities for people to collaborate on assignments. You’ll also keep everyone focused on the big picture, which will, in turn, minimize the chance that people will drift away from your brand guidelines.
4. Utilize a Brand Management Team
With everything in place, the last step is to put a gatekeeper between your customers and your employees, to verify that all of the content, products, designs, and marketing collateral meet your brand guidelines.
This gatekeeper could be a team or a single individual, depending on your business’ needs. The point is to have a plan in place, so you everyone in your company can contribute to the creation and maintenance of your brand, without risking deviation from your core brand identity.
However, this can be an overwhelming task for a single person or small group. So, it’s important to have the right tools and processes in place to streamline the approval process as much as possible. Frontify is a great option for businesses of all sizes, as it allows teams to create and save projects in a single space and track changes as they are made. It also offers specific annotation tools that gatekeepers can use to leave commentary on projects and approve final drafts.
Regardless of the size or maturity of your company, increasing your brand consistency is hard work. Not only does it require you to think about your brand strategically, but it also requires you to put processes in place to keep projects on-brand as they move down your pipeline. However, by implementing the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to getting it right.