As a freelancer, solopreneur, small business owner — however you define what you do — having a strong brand presence is key to connecting with your target audience and becoming memorable. You probably know that you need a logo and a website, but that is only the beginning of creating a full brand experience.
Do you ever see an image or a post that screams a certain person or brand to you? Businesses create this kind of experience by bringing consistency to everything they produce. Customers will likely interact with you multiple times before buying your service or product, and therefore you want to take the opportunity to build familiarity and trust with each interaction.
The first step is to create a solid visual identity. Beyond your logo, you want a system of colors, typefaces, icons, and layouts. The visual experience is a person’s first impression of your brand, and you want to build something that looks professional, represents what makes you unique, and connects with the type of people you want to work with.
Once you have your visual identity established, integrate it into everything you produce. All of the collateral and communications your business creates should in some way connect with your brand identity. No matter what a person stumbles upon from you, they should get the feeling of, “I bet this is from *insert your brand here*.” Your brand’s style is what makes you unique and not just another designer/photographer/blogger/coach/podcaster/etc.
While this concept may seem easy enough to apply, you may worry that this cohesion will seem boring or repetitive to an audience. While it may seem redundant to you to have the same concept for every blog post graphic, for example, your audience will be seeing countless images throughout their days. Creating that consistent, cohesive brand style instead makes you more familiar and more likely for them to return and check you out! It also makes creating the graphics for your newsletter, blog, or social media that much easier when you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you create something. Who doesn’t love efficiency?
Now that you know what you have to do, follow these tips to evaluate and implement consistency throughout your brand:
Stick to one established set of fonts and colors.
While you might think it keeps it interesting to use a different font every time you post an image, it is better to have the predictability of a system of fonts and colors for your brand. When you change fonts, colors, and styles with every item you create, it gives the impression that you are still figuring things out — and maybe you aren’t ready for clients yet. Or, it could even indicate that you are indecisive and can’t stick with anything. A solid visual identity shows you are ready to go, understand your business, and care about your user’s experience.
Apply your visual identity into all your products.
You know to use your logo and follow your style guide when building your website, but do you apply this scheme to all your communications? If you are a service-based business, use your brand fonts and colors on your documents like proposals, quotes, contracts, and invoices. If you teach an online webinar, bring that visual consistency into your email templates, presentations, and course handouts. If you offer a free download for signing up for your email list, make sure that PDF has your branding applied. In short, if there is something you are giving to your client or customer, use it as a tool for building consistency in your brand.
Stay consistent both online and offline.
You may have consistent imagery across your social media accounts, but what about the business card you hand out at a networking event or a conference? Don’t forget about those in-person experiences with your audience. It helps a person connect with your brand if every touchpoint you have stays within your visual identity. Use your consistent visuals in both your email signature and in the handwritten thank you notes you send.
Go beyond the visuals.
Consistency also applies to your brand voice! Consider the tone and style of your website copy, your newsletters, and your social media posts. Even if your business is more than one person, you want to use the same writing style in all your copy. (If you aren’t sure where to start in corralling your words, consider hiring a copywriter to set you on track.) It also applies to how you interact with and treat your customers: are you timely in responses? Do you use a kind tone and offer as much help as you can? Using consistency in your customer service is an important follow up to the first impression your visuals provide.
Consistency makes you recognizable, professional, and put together. It shows you have thought through your branding and want to create a meaningful experience with your audience and customers. Once you take the time to put together a plan for your brand, it only gets easier to implement!
We have a free worksheet that you can use when building your brand. It includes a step by step evaluation of the ideas mentioned in the blog post.