carter-branding-why-consistency-is-crucial-in-visual-identity

Why consistency is crucial in executing your visual identity.

As branding and design experts, we know how vital it is to create and maintain the right image.

We look at why you need to be consistent with your visual identity and what impact brand consistency can have.

Firstly, we don’t want to appear negative, so let’s get the ‘what being consistent with your visual identity isn’t’ out of the way.

It’s not about never trying new things or avoiding creativity entirely. Instead it is about delivering brand recognition, building a memorable experience, generating trust and making things easier.

We’ll look at each of these elements in turn but importantly, it doesn’t mean your brand communications have to be dull and boring, and you certainly don’t need to stick to just one style or the same template or layout for everything you use.

No, it’s all about delivering your brand visuals in a predictable manner and a consistent style to create stability with your audience.

Doing so will make your audience feel like they know what to expect. This is really important – your customer and target market will be able to identify with your brand – even if you try something new or introduce a new design element for example. You won’t confuse them or risk losing them on your journey – they’ll spot your brand and want to interact with you.

They will recognise your style and the messaging behind it or that accompanies it – they’ll be able to tell it’s you. And that is what consistent brand application is all about.
If you are aiming to attract more customers and thus users of your brand, you must be consistent. Should you want those who already know you to remain loyal to your business, again growth and loyalty will come from delivering brand consistency.

Let’s now dive in and scrutinise the elements that consistency in branding help with:

Consistency Makes Your Brand Recognisable

When your brand appears consistently, you become recognisable.

Whatever you are creating – be that a brochure, leaflet, Instagram post, email marketing campaign, stickers on packaging or store signage – if they all have the same visual appearance matched with persistent messaging, they become recognisable.

Building up brand recognition is really important. It will makes your branding feel familiar. This in turn will ensure that when your brand appears in front of your target audience, you will build a stronger connection with them.

If you remain at the forefront of their thinking, when they recognise the need for a product or service you offer, or should somebody they know be searching for a solution to an issue you can solve, it is you that they will think of first. This brand recognition is an incredibly valuable asset and it comes – pretty much exclusively – through brand consistency.

It Makes Your Brand Memorable

Every business needs and wants to be attractive to their target audience. They want to stick in people’s minds – but being able to do so without a consistent visual appearance is really tough.

A simple way to test the theory is to think about how you would describe your visual appearance to a stranger.

Then think about how somebody who is a customer, client or a consumer of your communications [both on and offline] or your product / service would describe your brand visuals to a friend of theirs – but without using your brand name.

  • What would they say?
  • What consistent elements can you be relied upon to deliver?
  • What is it about your visual identity is memorable?
  • How would your brand be described?

The results would probably be really telling.

And the key to achieving memorable brand status comes from ensuring your brand is unique and is delivered consistently.

Note that you really can’t brand a serious business and then communicate with your market based on a current trend. Timeless visual identities are what work in the long term. Sure you can consider introducing seasonal elements to your marketing or piggyback on trends for short term benefits, but it won’t work past the initial hit.

Get your brand tone and messaging clear and concise and then work to develop, introduce and maintain a unique style that ensures you stand out from your competitors.
Doing so and showing up, regularly and consistently will ensure that you become memorable.

That way, you will begin to appear in the minds of your customers. The way people think about your brand goes much further than just what your brand looks like though. Your brand visuals must work consistently alongside your voice, tone, messaging and marketing methods. Each of these individual elements play an important role in creating a brand that becomes memorable.

You could be totally different from everybody else and stand out in a really unique way – great! But you will soon be forgotten about if you don’t stay consistent. Imagine your favourite chocolate bar or packet of crisps on a shelf – if they change their look, size and shape every time you went to the store to buy them, you’d never be able to find them and you’d end up buying something else.

If you don’t stay consistent, or you change too frequently or unnecessarily and don’t have a steady, dependable style, you will almost immediately be forgotten.

Consistency Means People Take Notice

Marketing theory suggest that it normally requires up to seven interactions before people become aware of something. So that may include – for example – an article in a magazine, an advert on the radio, a piece of PR, an Instagram feed, an email newsletter, a carrier bag on the high street and a search engine result.

There is a lot of work that goes in to getting noticed and across such a wide variety of media.

Your individual brand graphics, the content you create and your physical products may get in front of people but even then that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically become customers.

It takes time to be picked up and tried. Should you simply post a nice image on Instagram or a funny video on TikTok, it is pretty likely that should they see it, your audience will take a quick look and think ‘oh, that’s cool’ then move on. But hopefully, by the seventh time, things change and people start to take notice and begin to take action.

If you look familiar, your targets are more likely to want to find out more. They will begin to spend time learning more and in turn start consuming your content. They may then start following you online or begin to make purchases.

As an example, we once had a client who we had originally met at a networking event many years ago, who had signed up for our newsletter and received the Christmas cards that we’d sent him for about five years and it wasn’t until he heard us speak at an event that he put two and two together and realised it was us and he was ready then to work with us.

You may also appreciate this from your own personal experience. You won’t have built a connection with a brand until you have seen it, or interacted with it a number of times. The consistency displayed from that particular brand will slowly become more familiar, your interest will grow and you will gradually develop a trust and interest in them.

It may take seeing a brand’s content several times before you really feel invested and interested. This is the main reason why it is absolutely crucial to keep showing up consistently.

By maintaining a consistent visual style and tone, you increase the chances considerably of someone becoming interested in what you offer and converting them into a customer.

Consistency Builds Trust

When you apply your visual identity consistently, you build trust within your market and – most importantly – with your target audience.

Doing so makes your business appear serious and professional. By delivering a clear, consistent brand message and style, it shows you have created and are building your brand intentionally and are taking your branding seriously.

You’ll look different from your competition too – you may be operating in a market place that has a number of competitors doing similar things and you need to stand out. So when you appeal to a potential customer or client, they will appreciate that you are making the effort to apply your brand consistently across multiple touchpoints.

In doing so they will appreciate that if you are acting professionally and are keen to appear visually consistent in your operations, then they will know that if you are doing that with your own brand, you are likely to also approach the products and services you offer in the same way.

If you are an online business, this is especially important. Building trust is so difficult online as your customers are not able to turn up and meet you face to face in a bricks and mortar store. Instead, you have to find alternative ways to show how and why you are trustworthy.

Customers need to know that you are viable and are worth investing in. You can achieve this through approaching the use of brand identity with care and consistency.

Consistent Brand Application Makes Things Easier

When you approach your brand in a consistent manner, it means less work for you.

How? Well, armed with your brand application guidelines, tailored design templates and mood board[s] to guide you and any branding, graphics and design decisions that you need to make, you can easily and quickly create the materials you need. The more you do this and the more consistent you are the easier it is.

Let’s say you had to start again each time you needed a new piece of marketing literature or a new social media post. This would be an unnecessary nightmare – you’d have to work out a new style, choose the fonts and colour scheme and the layout, structure and messaging etc.

As a result, you’d spend an inordinate amount of time creating something, only to have to do it all again the next time.

When you create brand graphics it really isn’t the time to start experimenting. When it comes to this, it is critical that you stick to a predictable, dependable and consistent theme and style.

The results are that you build trust with your audience, you become recognisable and you save time and effort.

There is less time spent trying to be creative and more time actually doing and achieving something. You’ll get more done and in turn use your visual identity to reach more people when you work within your pre-agreed and defined branding guidelines.

Consistency in your visual identity is really important. You may have the best product in the world that everybody must surely want in their homes, for sale at an amazing price, matched with the smartest logo ever but if you deliver your marketing and messaging in a conflicting and uncertain way, you’ll get nowhere.

The best designs and the most successful of businesses, come from working with the meaningful constraints of an established brand identity.

In doing so, you can think more creatively. If you consider how to create something attractive and memorable whilst working within the parameters of your brand guidelines you’ll to reap the benefits of a consistent visual identity.

Carter Branding Founder Daniel James
Author
Daniel James is the founder and creative lead at Carter Branding.
With over twenty years’ experience, he is equally at home working on branding and design projects for major international PLC’s as he is supporting ambitious businesses and innovative start ups.
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