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How to Create a Consistent Brand: 4 Easy Secrets
Brand consistency means showing up in the same dependable way over and over for your audience. Being consistent in your brand doesn’t mean you never switch things up, change your mind about a tactic or strategy, or give your brand an update.
Brand consistency is about establishing a baseline that stays true no matter what new things you put out there. Your baseline encompasses things like your unique point of view, the values that influence your business, and your brand mission. That’s the deepest layer.
On top of that, It also includes the visual components: setting a consistent tone through your brand visuals so that your business becomes easy to recognize. Things like your brand colors and logo may change at some point if you rebrand, but creating consistency across the board with your visuals is important and changing these things should always be considered carefully to make sure the benefits outweigh the disruption.
These foundational pieces of your brand create a common thread that your audience can follow through all of your content, offers, and marketing.
Here’s why brand consistency matters so much: it builds trust. Most of us love novelty, but it’s the dependable, predictable, and familiar things we trust.
I’m going to share with you some of my favorite tools for remaining consistent with your brand, but before you can create brand consistency, you have to have the basic strategy laid out. You need to know: who your ideal client is, your unique point of view about your line of work, what makes your brand different, and how you represent your brand visually (if you’re not clear on your brand strategy, grab a free copy of our Brand Planner Workbook below!)
Prep work: Create your Ideal Client Avatar
This is one of the biggest pieces of the brand-consistency puzzle: knowing exactly who you’re trying to reach (the free Brand Planner Workbook above can help you out with this step).
This is so important, but often the step that business owners skip.
I get it. It’s hard to focus on a single type of client because, hey, you could help a lot of different types of people. You don’t want to exclude them and you don’t want to “limit” yourself. Makes sense.
But here’s the twist: getting hyper-specific about your ideal client and creating all of your stuff with that specific person in mind doesn’t limit your brand, it makes it more potent. Your message will be clear and will stick in people’s mind. It will be concrete and engaging.
Your ideal clients will love it and – surprisingly – some of those other people who you know you can also help will love it, too (even if they don’t fit neatly into your “ideal client” mold).
Defining your ideal client allows you to create consistency in your brand, because you’re showing up to serve the same type of person every day, instead of scattering your efforts to try and meet everyone’s needs.
Bottom line: it gives you focus that will make your brand more attention-grabbing, more memorable, and more referable.
TAKE A LOOK AT THIS EXAMPLE
Stash Wealth is a team of financial advisors. This industry is notorious for having samey-samey marketing: everyone’s website looks the same, everyone’s copy sounds the same. You’ll find lots of jargon and vague phrases like “financial freedom”. By zeroing in on their Ideal Client Avatar, Stash Wealth was able to create a brand that looked and sounded completely different from everyone else in their industry. And because of that, they can grab attention and build a loyal audience. They even coined a term for their ideal client: HENRYs (High Earners Not Rich Yet). Without getting specific about who they were trying to reach and serve, their brand wouldn’t be nearly as powerful.
So open a new Google doc or grab a notebook and pen: it’s time to bring your ideal client to life. For this exercise, don’t think of your “ideal client” as a group of people. Make your ideal client a single person. Imagine him or her in your mind. Then, write down everything you know about this person. What are her biggest struggles in life – the things she tosses and turns about at night when she can’t get to sleep? What are her biggest aspirations – the things she dreams about doing or achieving in her life? What are her roles in life (e.g parent/business owner/partner/committee member/volunteer/etc.)? What does she value most?
Create a Brand Thesaurus
Written content is one of the biggest ways potential clients will get to know your business online. Website sales copy, social media updates, blog posts, marketing emails…you’re constantly creating copy for your brand. Which means it’s a great opportunity to establish some brand consistency.
One of my favorite ways to keep written communication on-brand is by creating a Brand Thesaurus (this is so helpful that we build a brand thesaurus for each one of our brand development clients by default).
It’s a list of words and phrases that match your brand’s personality AND mirrors the language your ideal clients use. This allows you to inject the same consistent personality into your writing while making sure it’s also connecting effectively with your potential clients (because, in the end, it doesn’t matter how consistent your brand is if it doesn’t appeal to the people you’re trying to reach).
YOU CAN CREATE YOUR OWN BRAND THESAURUS BY DOING A LITTLE DETECTIVE WORK.
First, brainstorm a list of words and phrases you use a lot in your writing. Are there certain expressions you like to use over and over? Do you typically choose informal word choices, or is your language more traditional? What words or short phrases do you go back to over and over again to explain the value of what you offer – the benefits you deliver?
Next, do some research. Hop on social media and do some detective work on your ideal clients. How do they talk? What words and phrases do they use to express their problems and goals that relate to what you offer? You can also get some great examples by sifting through Amazon reviews for books that relate to your services.
The final step is making your Thesaurus official. I’d recommend putting it in a Google (or Word) doc. Create a list of 20-30 words and phrases that are central to your brand, your unique point of view, the problems you solve/results you achieve, and the language your audience will resonate with. #done!
Create a Swipe file for common emails
You’ll send a lot of the same types of emails over and over again – like responding to inquiries that come through your website, following up on project proposals or leads that have gone dormant, onboarding new clients, etc.
This is a great opportunity to create consistency AND save yourself loads of time.
Next time you write the kind of email that you find yourself sending over and over, copy and paste it into a Google doc. Edit out the specifics that only apply to that recipient, and leave a blank space to insert custom specifics for the next person. Also take an extra few minutes to make sure the email is true to your brand voice (refer to your handy Brand Thesaurus!) and is clear + concise. Now you have a template email you can use over and over again to save time and ensure that you’re delivering a consistent brand experience.
Create a brand guide PDF that outlines visuals
As a brand designer (and a business owner) I know first-hand how impactful great visual design can be for your business. And while the visual stuff (logo, colors, etc.) are usually the first thing people think about when it comes to branding, I also know that it’s not the whole picture. Not by a long shot.
The things we discussed already – like your Ideal Client and your brand content – along with the other strategy items covered in our Brand Planner Workbook are vital to the success of your brand.
But once you have the strategy mapped out, communicating it visually is important.
A strong visual brand will help you get noticed in the first place and will help you remain memorable in the long run.
Creating a PDF with your visual brand guidelines will help you keep things consistent so you can create that instant recognition.
Inside your brand guidelines, include your logo (and variations), your brand colors, your brand fonts, examples of your brand photography, and style considerations that are important to the look of your brand.
Having all of these details documented side-by-side allows you to quickly evaluate everything your create for your brand going forward. When you find yourself asking questions like “Does this Instagram image match my brand aesthetic?”, “Is this blog graphic consistent?”, “How should I design my business cards?”, etc. – simply pull up your Brand Guide and compare your new designs to what you’ve outlined.
Does this mean I should never change my brand’s visual design?
Not necessarily! There are definitely good reasons to rebrand your business. And after years of use, parts of your visual brand may start feeling outdated. But on the flip side, long-term consistency is what makes a visual brand most potent. People come to recognize and trust the visual signifiers of your brand. If you switch things up, you have to work hard to regain that recognition.
So what’s the right answer? If you think it’s time to rebrand because of a major shift in your business (like a offering a totally new set of services or serving a new type of audience), a complete rebrand may be in order. If you haven’t made any major shifts to your brand’s strategy, you may be better off sticking with what you have. You can definitely give your brand an update without completely changing your look. Keeping the threads of consistency – even when you update things or add something new to the mix – will help your audience follow along.
CREATE YOUR BRAND GUIDE PDF
You can create your Brand Guide document in any program you like, as long as it gives you the ability to insert images along with text. My personal choice is Adobe InDesign or Google Documents.
In fact, I have a Google Doc Brand Guide Template that you can swipe (just select File > Make a Copy and save it to your own Google account so you can edit it). Once you’ve filled the template in, you can save it as a PDF and/or print it out for future reference.
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