We've all heard it, especially in the business world. Don't sweat the small stuff. Think big and the rest will work itself out. That’s not bad advice, on the whole – it’s easy to get bogged down in details that don’t get you anywhere. However, when I put my branding hat on, I need to make a case for details. Because they matter.
THE MULTI-CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS TRAP
Of course I'm not suggesting you immediately go and obsess over every tiny detail of every tweet or post. That would be silly, and counterproductive. I’m not giving you an excuse to procrastinate and pass it off as “branding” (sorry!).
What I AM saying is that in the days of social media and the interwebs, brands are spread out over many different platforms. We go networking, to trade shows, we have a website and we email people. There’s so much, sometimes it’s hard to keep track. Our audience lives in the same world and is therefore similarly spread out. To make matters worse, they increasingly expect instant gratification and quick fixes.
What that means for branding is that we can no longer control where and how someone first comes in contact with us. Punters might see a tweet, or a guest blog article, or they might meet you in person. With multiple touchpoints across several channels, brands have to make sure to stay consistent. Consistency makes you recognisable, and here is where the "small stuff" comes in.
WHAT SMALL STUFF TO SWEAT – AND WHAT NOT?
Details such as the wording of your email signature, the font you use for your graphics, the way you speak or the background colour of your Facebook posts matter when it comes to brand voice and consistency.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer to this question. One very important aspect is visual consistency. They say an image says a thousand words, so it’s important to pick the right images. Right for you – ones that tell a little story, that let customers catch a glimpse of what makes you tick. If you take your own photos, don’t just post snapshots. Think about what you want the photo to show, and then work towards the best possible result.
Colour is also massively important: Colour increases Brand recognition by up to 80%! That doesn’t mean that you can’t use colours that aren’t in your logo. What it does mean is that if you use a lot of blue in your posts, a stray yellow or green one might not be recognised as yours immediately.
If you design your own visuals (on Canva for example), just make sure that you're not carried away with fancy fonts and lovely images and stick to the core visual themes of your brand.
Being consistent with fonts across your publications helps. Developing a brand voice and using it across all platform helps. Having a professional email signature helps. Obsessing over whether that text is 14 or 16px tall though does not help. If you catch my drift.
CREATE A DESIGN BRIEF
When you look at how visually consistent some of the big brands are (just think Apple for a moment), it will give you a good idea of what I'm talking about. These companies have watertight design briefs to make sure that even if it isn't always the same designer creating their adverts, nothing goes out that isn't in line with the brand.
If you have a designer, you should have such a brief too! Even if you don’t, putting some guidelines together for yourself can really help you with consistency. You'll have something to go back to whenever you’re tempted to post something out of the ordinary. And if you decide to hire a designer, it’ll give you a great starting point for any design you commission.
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Stick to your core font(s) - if you can't remember what they are called, create a cheat sheet
- Make sure your logo is good quality (not pixelated) wherever it appears
- Stick to a theme when using images
- If you take your own photographs, make sure that your photo shows what you wanted to capture. If a little question mark appeared over your head just now, google photographic intent.
- Be consistent with your use of colours - try to look for a hex code (for example #7a9e6e for a nice green) or have a designer analyse your logo and define your colours for you.
You can download my free Designer's Guide to Buying Better Design if you'd like some pointers on how to create a great design brief.
In short, it boils down to four words: THINK BEFORE YOU POST. Does this comply with my brand image? Am I going with this visual just because I like it right now? Does this tell the my story accurately? If this was the only post from my company a person ever saw, would they associate me with the right things?
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