Since opening up shop earlier this year, for my brand identity services, I have had the pleasure to work with various business, in different industries + stages of growth. I absolutely love being a part of something new, and building a brand identity from the ground up. There is just something to be said for starting fresh, and having a place in the exciting new steps of a business!
Whether you are a solopreneur, small business owner, or just about to start a new venture, a quality brand identity can set you apart from competition and attract your ideal clients/customers. So often, people think that “branding” is a term that is simply interchangeable with “logo.” Not the case, my friends! Branding, though it seems like a buzz word currently, is the expectations you establish with your audience, that compels them to choose you over competition. This includes brand identity (visual aspect), message, tone of voice, and how your customers feel when they engage in your brand.
Creating a consistent brand experience
There are countless ways to build loyalty in your brand, including maintaining consistency in your brand across all platforms. Through building a consistent experience for your audience, you build trust and credibility in your business. Say, for example, an acquaintance tells you about a local photographer, to take your portrait. You are excited, because you have been on the hunt for a while! What is the first step you take? Most likely, you will pull up google and try to find their site. Keep in mind, you already have an expectation set from your friend, that this photographer is worth looking into. Once you find the site, you will either have a reaction that meets your high expectation, or will end up feeling deflated. You might feel let down because their images are low-res, they don’t show enough photography, or you have trouble navigating the site and contacting the photographer.
The latter reaction is due to an inconsistent brand experience, and you can see why you want to avoid this! Whether it is intentional, or subconscious, your audience is measuring each interaction with your brand against their expectations. Are you answering emails timely, or when they can expect it? Does your business card reflect the quality of your brand identity? How about your blog post graphics, do they measure up? Don’t worry, I am sharing a few ways to create a consistent experience, as well as a more thorough bonus download to reference!
How to create a consistent brand experience
As a former sole print designer, of course I would highly recommend extending your brand to print! Applying your brand identity to print is one of the easiest + most requested brand collateral pieces. Whether it is through letterhead, business cards or stationery, your print materials are a tangible impression of your brand. Don’t worry, I’ve covered even more branded print collateral options in the bonus.
If your business’ primary marketing, client base, and communication is online, than crafting a consistent digital experience is a must! As an online business owner myself, I can attest to the value in creating a cohesive digital brand.
I highly recommend starting with extending your brand to digital mediums, if you haven’t already, as this is most likely the home for your brand. People search on google, find you on Pinterest, and engage with you on social media. Make sure you are establishing trust with them, through a cohesive brand experience.
Blog Post Design
Along with your digital presence, is the necessity to value high-quality blog post graphics. I’m going to be honest here… I’m a design snob when it comes to reading blogs. If the site is difficult to navigate, confusing what the business is about, or the images are unprofessional, I find myself exiting the site quickly. I bet I’m not alone here either, and that you have done the same! Your blog post graphic doesn’t have to be complicated, riddled with the fanciest design tricks, it just needs to be cohesive, consistent, and professional.
You spend countless hours on your blog. It is the home of the content you labor over, and most likely how people find your site. Make sure you don’t neglect this extension of your brand!
Now that your brand identity is cohesive across digital + print, you need to check your communication. When someone talks to you on the phone, in person, or through email, does it align with your brand message on your site? This is so crucial, and provides a checkmark to the customer that you aren’t a fraud, and they can trust you.
Twitter is a great place to see if your message aligns with your brand. Are you responding to tweets in a different way than your brand evokes on your site? Don’t get caught with a double personality on social media and in person. The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to simply be yourself. Whether you are edgy, quirky, practical or inspirational, embrace it and be true to your brand.
Have you ever had an experience where everything checks off for a brand/small business… but then something happens and you quickly lose trust? This has happened to me countless times, and most often it comes down to a lack of professionalism. This can take many forms: whether it is through poor communication, a lack of timely responses to inquiries, missed deadlines or an unprofessional process. A misstep in professionalism can cost your business credibility, and ultimately income.
Establish a smooth process (from initial inquiry to payment), set expectations with deadlines, and be available for feedback. So often people don’t set expectations for their process, which can cause confusion and let down the client. Be open and clear to the client/customer about what to expect, and when. People like to feel prepared, and know what they are getting into.
And there you have it! You have a few steps to check your business and make sure you are creating a cohesive brand experience.