The power of consistency in branding design
Defining the experience of your products and services
As a brand identity designer, it’s my passion to help bridge the gap between a product or service and the people who need it.
A brand exists whether or not it was explicitly and intentionally crafted.
As soon as your product or service is recognized as a possible solution to a person’s goal, your company needs to win the trust as a source for a level of quality solutions for it to effectively sell.
This trust is further cultured and fostered the more a person returns to a product or service that has worked for them in the past. This kind of loyalty to a brand can only be achieved through consistently remaining useful, purposeful, and recognizable within the specific industry.
If done correctly, people become loyally attached to the brands they love.
There’s more to a brand than just a logo
The brand is an assurance of quality. It is defined, not just by the brand-mark, but by what other people say about the product, service
A brand is a conglomeration of:
- A company voice and vision
- A specific product, service, or industry
- A unified message or statement
- An identifiable group to reach out to
- The collection of marketing efforts
- Recognizable visuals tied to the brand
- An iconic symbol, person, or name to reference it.
By grouping these together in a different way, we essentially have three areas that build the actual brand.
**Logo **— A unique identifier that simplifies the brand to it’s most iconic
**Identity **— The *visual materials and messaging *that a company employs to identify the company in a sea of other similar products or services.
**Brand **— The ideal customer and their *emotional connection to a company *through the collective product or service.
If you look at the logo of a company for the first time, out of context, usually it will mean very little to you.
There are people who think that having a “good logo” will be reason enough for everyone to buy into the brand. This just isn’t true for the scale that people are expecting when hiring designers to “make them a logo.”
What makes people buy into a company’s branding is consistency.
It has been months since some of the most prominent and most controversial rebrandings completed by companies like eBay, Dropbox, and Formula 1 have completely changed their iconic and historic designs. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of major rebrands by other companies.
A few of my design friends have also started releasing updates to their work too: Portfolios, Dribbble/Instagram accounts, social media brands, etc. All of them have done something new in the past few months to update their brand.
Branding starts happening when you take the brand’s Visual Identity, Messaging, Activity, Products/Services, and Name and give it meaning. Your collection of previous work, products, services, marketing efforts, and different social media accounts for your company become a part of your brand.
The logo you choose for your company is just a child of a more significant
Branding is “the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
This is what makes the difference between wearing a pair of running shoes and wearing a pair of Nikes.
It is what my design agency, So Magnetic*, **focuses on: **crafting the brand experience **— starting with the first interaction (Logo Design) and continuing through the identity of your brand (Brand Identity Design*).
It is the experience that drives a person to talk about your brand to other people.
A colleague of mine has talked a lot about design for digital experiences, saying:
“ An experience goes beyond the screen. It is not only what the user does with your product, but also what happens before and after it. ”
Why do we need branding design?
The goal of branding is to make a company unique and recognizable, and to project a desired image.
The challenge is keeping the brand different in a world of parroting products and services, and keeping the brand relevant to those who are seeking it. This is a service I provide and have continued to provide throughout my career as a designer.
**The opportunity **for where branding matters is within prominently and consistently delivering your message through visual design. Bridging the gap between what you are trying to deliver, and the people who want or need what you’re offering.
Why Consistency Matters to Your Brand
With brands, you want to make sure that you are delivering to your audience the same experience that got them to buy into your brand.
This buy-in is one of the most important things you have to growing your audience and outreach.
Imagine driving down the road of a suburban neighborhood
You’re looking out the window, passing a beautiful row of identical homes. All of the sudden, there’s a house that doesn’t belong. It is twice the size, bright orange, but worn down and in disrepair. It wouldn’t feel like it belongs. It’s a nail protruding out of board; it sticks out, and not in a good way.
If an item in your lineup is disconnected from the rest of your brand **in some way, you risk the effectiveness in the selling power of your brand. Even worse, **you risk that specific product or service being ignored when you put it out there in the world.
The same is true with what your customers see about your brand from platform to platform.
If you plan on sharing your products and services through the ecosphere of the internet, someone who comes from one online platform to follow you on another is going to expect the same level of quality or better from where they were first introduced.
Take my own branding as an example.
With So Magnetic, I run three sides to the company:
- So Magnetic is a branding design agency
- Compass of Design is a design resource center for other designers
- I am the voice behind both of them.
Look through this and tell me if you see a common theme.
There are actually a number of things that I keep consistent throughout my branding. Compass of Design, my personal commissions, and So Magnetic are all owned by So Magnetic LLC.
The brand work for So Magnetic encompasses all three of these brands.
Each one of these ventures falls in line with the parent brand’s visual identity, messaging, and voice. Each carry similar tones.
They obviously exist as their own brands, yet seen together, they are all a part of the same thing.
- The social media profile avatars are always the same as the “face of the brand”(logo)
- The messaging and tone are established within the headers of each platform and consistent across their environments
- The visual style is a mixture of three prominent brand colors.
Even the collateral for the three fall closely in line with each other.
What I’m establishing through intentionally designing the brands like this is one thing:
B R A N D — R E C O G N I T I O N
Brand recognition is the most important things you can achieve for your company.
The goal is that when someone says “I need to find a good UI Designer”, that other person automatically thinks of you or your work.
Or when someone who follows you on Instagram sees part of your brand on twitter, they follow you there too.
That when they walk past your brand in the isle, they stop and go get it because they trust what they heard someone else say about it or have seen consistently across different mediums.
Brand recognition is what makes someone buy a Nike product instead of Adidas, what makes someone eat Cheerios instead of the random wheat cereal your grocery store branded, and what makes someone choose you over the next leading designer.
When someone comes across another part of your products or services, it has to be part of the same brand that they can instantly recognize.
The dangers of inconsistency
Take the newest typeface choice by Dropbox’s design team.
Momoh Silm had a very good discussion about this very brand and their choices here. This typeface is called Sharp Grotesque, and the team has opted to allegedly use all 259 versions of it.
Typography is one of the most prominent things in design, especially when talking about finding a brand’s voice. Dropbox certainly believes it is achieving that with their choice.
“With 259 fonts, our new typeface Sharp Grotesk gives us lots of versatility, allowing us to “speak” in a variety of tones.”
However, what this is actually doing is burying their voice and tone by selecting “No tone” at all.
By choosing everything, you essentially chose nothing at all
If you saw any of these words below out in the wild, could you honestly tell me they were from Dropbox?
By adopting the nature of “speaking in a variety of tones” they choose to speak with none at all. That may be the most dangerous thing a company made to house digital files for safe keeping may do. I might be wrong in the future, but we will have to wait and see.
If you want to see a good breakdown of the branding too, you can check this post on their recent redesign.
The experience of your brand is what matters, and some of the best brands put the most thought in crafting the simplest experience.
Remember to think about how someone gets introduced to your brand, and what about it keeps them coming back for the experience.
Spend a considerable amount of time:
- doing research on the demographic you are trying to reach.
- building a consistent message across social media
- choosing a consistent visual style
- researching the strengths of the different social media platforms
- finding your brand’s voice and message
- posting content that is consistent to your audience’s reason for following you
I have a exercise that I put my stuff through when I am creating/posting/responding something new. Think of it like a brand filter.
- Are the visuals something that looks like it belongs with my brand’s style?
- Does this sound like something me or my brand would say?
- Is this something that utilizes the strength of the platform?
- Does this reflect my brand’s values?
- Is this going to strengthen the audience’s relationship with the brand?
My friends from the seanwes network have created a better version of these questions here.
So please, when you are doing the branding work for your brand, consider what we’ve gone over today and think of our question below.
**If you need help building your brand identity, **[head over to So Magnetic
](https://somagnetic.com/)and we can talk about how branding design can play into your brand strategy.
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Brand Identity Designer for @itssomagnetic, running a design community at @compassofdesign. I write to help others grow their skills as designers.
Compass of Design
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