Deliver your message in line with identity, values, and strategy.
The key principle in life and in business is consistency. Without it you won’t get very far. When it comes to graphic design, consistency is the #1 principle that we tend to violate most frequently. Even the best graphic designers are also guilty of breaking this principle and are not proud to admit it. Before we jump right in, let’s define what brand consistency is.
What is brand consistency?
Brand consistency is the practice of always delivering your message aligned with your core brand values. Designing in the same tone, placement of your logo in a similar way, and using the same colors and hues throughout. Over time, consumers are more likely to remember your brand because these elements become ingrained in their minds.
Consistency ensures that your brand is easily recognizable across all marketing channels – digital, print and beyond. Here’s 3 critical areas where brands must be consistent to create customer loyalty:
Customer experience builds trust and confidence in your brand
Value backs up your words with actions
Brand identity provides the components to make your brand recognizable
Brand recognition is why we put so much emphasis on consistency in the first place. Every business’ goal should be to have your target audience immediately recognize your brand. This helps set you apart from the competition, but also provides a strong building block to deliver your message. Staying consistent puts you ahead in highly competitive or saturated markets.
Consistency in graphic design
Consistency is graphic design occurs when similar elements are used allowing people to quickly process your brand without too much thought. Humans crave consistency and strive for balance so it’s no surprise this would also tie into graphic design.
Imagine you’re in elementary school again learning the alphabet. Once you’ve learned your ABC’s they become ingrained in your memory forever. This, my friends, is the ultimate goal of brand consistency.
On the other hand, an inconsistent message is like speaking to consumers in another language. Every time they see your message they have to really look at it and take the time to figure it out. When the consumer feels confused they are most likely going to feel frustration. And we certainly don’t want to convey those feelings, do we?
Consistent design is frequently built with predefined components, colors, layouts, etc. This saves your graphic designer time (and you money) each time a new marketing component needs to be developed. Let’s just say if you get “bored” looking at the same visual elements, the same layouts and the same color palette for your marketing collateral, you’re on the right track. Being exposed to the same brand elements day after day just means you’re more likely to establish brand recognition with consumers.
How to be consistent
Replicating the same design elements throughout your marketing is no easy task. Fonts, sizes, colors, logo positioning and similar layouts need to be consistent to keep visual consistency for the end user.
Predictability leaves to users feeling safe and secure. Think Target, Pepsi, Starbucks – they all have branding elements one might consider “boring” but are also quite effective.
- Fonts: define hierarchy with your text; most important text is bigger than less important text. Be mindful of the language and tone you use.
- Colors: use the same color palette, complimenting hues, Pantone #’s, CMYK values.
- Positioning: padding and margins should remain the same to arrange components in a nice and aesthetic way.
- Similar layouts: consistent visuals allows the consumer to feel harmony when viewing. Use a branding style guide to define your brand elements and branding rules.
Bend the rules, don’t break them
You could argue if we always keep things consistent, there will be no innovation. This is where we will allow you to bend the consistency rule without breaking it. Broken consistency equals broken design and failed user experience.
The secret is understanding your consumers. All your design decisions should come from that understanding. It’s okay to make adjustments to the already established design only when they are drawn from your user’s needs. Making small changes will in fact evolve your brand into a better version and will keep the consistency.
Brand consistency is essential for any business that wants to build brand recognition and foster trust among their target audience. Align your graphic design with consumer expectations and consider your consumers to be your partner. Combining that with great understanding of design fundamentals will ensure design consistency.
Remember, little change is good, but more change is not necessarily better!