8 Smart Ways Small Businesses Maintain Brand Consistency
As a business, it’s your primary goal to attract leads and turn them into customers. So you increase visibility through social media, email, a company website, and more.
Voila! You’re on your way to becoming a household name, right?
Well, not quite.
It's easy to post a blog or send an email to customers. But constantly changing your design, messaging, or tone of voice drowns you out in a sea of competitors.
You’ll be forgotten — period.
To build better brand awareness, you need consistency.
The best businesses are consistent. They have an editorial voice, a design guide, etc. Coca-Cola, FedEx, and Apple do it. And your business can too.
Keep reading to learn more on brand consistency — and how you can apply it your small business or startup.
Brand Consistency: Why is it important for all businesses?
Brand consistency involves maintaining a single look, tone, and feel of your brand.
You may think of the same profile pictures, colour palettes, and more — and you’re right. But it also includes a specific brand voice, images, mood, and many others.
Let’s use Apple as an example.
They’re sleek and sophisticated — and they want the world to know about it.
Why is brand consistency important?
You don’t have to be a major brand to develop consistency on your platforms. In fact, this simple strategy boosts the growth of your small business:
- It sets you apart from the competition. It paints a distinct and recognisable image.
- It builds recognition. Consumers remember you when looking for products and services in your niche.
- It gives you personality. People who identify with your personality relate to you better.
- It builds trust. People know what to expect from your brand, making it easier for them to confide and trust in you.
How to Maintain Brand Consistency Across Different Platforms
Now that you know the what and the why of brand consistency, it’s time to learn the how.
Define your brand first
The best way to achieve consistency is for you to standardise what your brand is.
To start, ask yourself these questions:
- Overview. Who are you? What do you do?
- Mission. What are your goals? How do you want to help your customers?
- Unique positioning. What sets you apart from the competition?
- Values. What beliefs drive you as a business?
- Brand personality. If your brand were a person, what personality would it have?
- Brand voice. If your brand were a person, how would it talk to your audience?
Create a brand book
Chances are, you’re not the only one working on your brand. Your team will, too. Even third parties will — as you start to grow and develop partnerships.
So you must provide a guide to align your visions. This is where a brand book comes into play.
A brand book contains guidelines on presenting your brand across all materials.
Make everyone involved gets easy access to your brand book whenever they need to. It’s best to create a PDF and distribute it to all parties.
Here’s what you should include in your brand book:
The elements that define your brand dictates your brand message.
Brand messaging is the overall message you communicate with the world. Be that your product or service, your marketing content, your designs, and more.
Your brand message hooks your audience and converts them into paying customers.
Because your staff is also interacting with your audience, make sure they know and understand your brand messaging by heart.
Brand identity presents the visual elements of your brand. Think of it as your brand’s personal style.
This is where your logo, colour palette, fonts, and other design elements come in.
If there’s one thing people remember first, it’s your logo. Think of Nike. Doesn’t their iconic swoosh logo immediately come to mind?
Create a memorable logo with the following guidelines:
- Logo variations. Sometimes, you have to tweak your logo for different purposes. From image watermarks, social media icons, website headers, and the like. List these variations and explain what each is for.
- Logo placement. You wouldn’t want your scattered everywhere. Guide your design team on the proper placement for each media type (e.g. photos, graphics, video).
Colours work differently. With that, set a colour palette that best reflects your brand.
Yes, fonts play a role in forming your brand identity. Each font has a distinct mood or personality, so choose those that represent your brand well.
To get you started, here are the different types of typography to choose from:
- Serif fonts (e.g. Times New Roman, Garamond). They have anchors (or little feet) on the tips of each letter. Use them if you want to evoke a classic, traditional look.
- Sans serif fonts (e.g. Helvetica, Montserrat). Unlike serif fonts, sans serif fonts don’t have little feet on the letter tips, resulting in smooth edges. Go for this type if you want a modern feel to your brand.
- Script fonts (e.g. Lobster, Great Vibes). They resemble the cursive letters we were taught to write in grade school. These fonts channel a feminine, luxurious vibe to your brand.
- Display fonts. They have special elements that set them apart from the previous three types — unusual shapes, outlines and shadows, hand-drawn strokes, etc. Use these to make a bold statement!
Establish guidelines for each of your platforms
Every marketing platform has its own practices. What may work for email marketing may not work in landing pages. Likewise, social media posts won’t have the same guidelines as blogs.
Consider this for each platform you use. Take advantage of their different strengths!
Let’s use social media as an example:
- Facebook. One of the most versatile social media channels, Facebook is good for sharing images, videos, and long-form content. It also appeals to people of all ages, as almost every person we know uses the platform.
- Instagram. With a specialty in visual posts, Instagram is the best option for photos, graphics, and short videos. Its Stories feature also works well for behind-the-scene snapshots.
- Twitter. With its 280-character limit, Twitter is good for quick updates about your brand or direct engagement with your audience.
- YouTube. As the most popular video platform, YouTube is the ideal choice for long-form videos. Think of tutorials, video podcasts, behind-the-scenes, etc.
- LinkedIn. As an online network for professionals, LinkedIn is the place to establish thought leadership by sharing insightful content within your niche. It’s a great social platform for industry announcements, too.
Keep fundamental elements similar
While each platform works differently, you still need to keep some visual and text elements similar to keep your brand intact.
Social media handles and domain name
Use the same username for all your social media channels. Ideally, it should match with your domain name. This will make it easier for your target audience to find you online.
Use your logo as your profile picture across all channels.
If you have an ongoing campaign, make a customised design featuring your logo and use it as your profile picture. Not only does it give exposure to your logo, but it also promotes your campaign.
Facebook and Twitter allow you to upload header photos to personalise your profile. Use this opportunity to promote your current campaign. Or, feature your business headquarters or a photo of your team to add a human touch to your brand.
Describe what your brand’s about. Most platforms have a character limit, so you may have to write descriptions in varied lengths. Just make sure the context remains the same.
Plan your content in advance
It can be challenging to manage your content across many platforms and have to think of brand consistency at the same time.
To make things more efficient, plan your content beforehand.
This will give you a bird’s eye view of your content across all platforms, making it easier to monitor if they’re all on brand. Merely posting on random may result in content that feels out of place.
Social media tools, like Hootsuite and Buffer, make this as simple as a few clicks. Use these apps to manage all your social media accounts in one place.
Also, try to repurpose the content you’ve posted on one platform — then post it on another one.
For example, if you have recently posted a blog post, get the link and post it on Facebook. Then, extract some notable quotes and post it on Twitter. After, use the featured image and post it on Instagram along with a snappy caption.
You don’t have to use every platform (take note of your platform guidelines!). In the end, it’s better to have three brand-consistent socials than having 10 that are all over the place.
Extend your brand offline
We’ve mostly discussed online platforms at this point. But let’s not forget offline.
If your business goes along the lines of real estate, physical stores, delivery services, and the like, you know that you’re constantly engaging with your customers face to face. You also have physical resources to take care of.
To maintain brand consistency all throughout, don’t limit it to your online platforms. Let your offline platforms channel it, too.
Talk to your customers with the same personality as your marketing copy. Design your store or your delivery trucks according to your brand identity. Do every business operation with your mission and values in mind.
Now you have the what, the why, and the how of brand consistency. Last question is, when?
The answer is today. Today and always.
Keep your brand in mind all the time when working with different platforms, and you’ll experience customer loyalty like no other.