I’m just going to be upfront about this topic: I’ve been learning this as I go along and don’t consider myself to be an expert.
I never took a class on this, I did not learn this in college, and I’ve had little to no mentoring in this topic. Brand consistency is something that I have been focusing on over the last year or so, and feel as though I have some experience to pass along.
So this post is basically going to be a “what I’ve learned from my mistakes” in the past on online brand consistency. Things like printed marketing materials, portfolios, your office design, and t-shirts are just as important as online branding such as logos and social media design.
Today we’ll talk briefly about online brand consistency and hopefully you can decide if your brand is sending mixed messages or not.
Does online brand consistency even matter?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about online marketing or marketing in general is the value of brand equity. Yes, your actual brand can actually hold value due to the perception it has from the general public.
[quote] “Brand equity: The commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself.” [/quote]
Let’s take a quick look at UPS. UPS owns the color brown as a color. While everyone else uses reds, blues and greens – UPS dared to be brown. The logo, the trucks, hell even their socks are brown. If you check out any of their social media profiles, blogs, or other properties online it has the same look across the board.
Anyone, anywhere in the world can look at these colors and instantly tell that it is UPS. Like all major brands, they have brand guidelines to help ensure the general public uses their brand correctly in the media and online. Check out this great resource for those looking to develop a style guide.
Their social media designs are right on point to their brand guidelines, right down to the color of their links, the photos they upload, their timeline cover and the profile image.
It is not enough to just have the correct profile image. If your colors are all mix-and-matched it sends a mixed message to your users and might be a tad confusing.
Now, chances are your brand will never reach the brand dominance that UPS has, but on some level you want to try to achieve the same effect. When someone sees your colors, logo, tagline etc they should instantly recognize your brand.
But it’s not just about design and colors
One of my favorite blogs on the planet is A List Apart. They’ve been around forever and really know how to blog. One thing they’ve really nailed down is their style guide. This style guide ensures that their image is respected by bloggers and only content of the utmost quality is published.
Looking at their style guidelines gives all of us something to strive for, including us!
Keeping your content standardized across the board is essential to brand consistency.
Take a look at this quick checklist I’ve come up with:
- Is the spelling of your company the same? e.g. “ACME” vs “Acme” vs “Acme Inc.” vs “ACME INC”
- Do you have s standard body and heading font?
- Do you have a standard mission statement?
- Do you have a standard for your title tags and meta descriptions?
- Do you have a standard logo background?
- Are your company photos standardized?
- Is the voice or person of your social media status updates standardized?
- Do you have a preference for branded anchor text?
- Do you have a standard for link shorteners? Do you have a custom link shortener?
- Do you use standard icons?
- Is your online invoices standardized?
- Are your conference presentations standardized?
- Do you have a featured image standard?
Kind of a big checklist, but it really does not even scratch the surface.
In a perfect world, your company will have an entire team of marketing experts dedicated to ensuring that your brand is consistent online.
In the real world, most small businesses don’t have these type of resources and the owner or VP is doing most of this work themselves.
Uniformity and consistency is the new black
If I can give you one takeaway from this post it would be to ensure that your brand has a consistent look across all online channels.
Start thinking of everything you do in terms of brand consistency: your domain name, your user name, the name of your company, etc.
Even in writing this post, I realized I have such a long way to go to achieve the brand consistency that others have achieved. At the same time, we have come a long way and are looking pretty good overall.
If anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know!