How to Achieve Brand Consistency?
What does the Nike logo make you think of?
How does the Apple logo make you feel?
Does the Starbucks logo stimulate your eyes, or your nose?
The world’s most successful brands invest tremendous amounts of money reducing their entire product line, quality of service, and customer experience down to one simple, recognizable mark. Your corporate branding is digital shorthand for your professional services and it is vitally important to the strength and growth of your business.
While most business owners recognize this fact, there is also one area in which they consistently misstep and fall flat on their face. Here is a basic illustration…
The McDonald’s golden arches logo is a famous mark that you instantly recognize. It stimulates your taste buds, nose, and may even trigger thoughts of past family road trips with your kids.
But would all those same senses get triggered if the colors were changed from red and yellow to blue and white? Not likely.
What if the logo was then italicized and stroked in black? It probably wouldn’t spark any feelings or thoughts because you don’t recognize it at all.
The reason the McDonald’s golden arches logo is so powerful is because its owners have exposed you to it with a maniacal consistency over the years. The design and selection of the mark’s shape and colors is important, but it is the consistency of display that continuously reinforces the mark’s strength, and this is where many business owners misstep.
To avoid this common pitfall, make sure you take these three steps after you have selected and finalized your corporate branding.
First, reduce your branding down to what is known as a “style sheet” or “Brand Bible.” This document should contain all versions of your mark in various file formats such as vector, jpg, and pdf. It should give examples of proper and improper use of your marks. It should contain all approved fonts. It should define approved colors in terms of pantone, RGB and CMYK color spaces.
Any time your corporate branding is to be applied to stationary, business cards, email signatures, building signage, products, or advertising this document should be consulted. Ideally it should be accessible somewhere within your website so a link may be quickly provided to third parties needing access to the information.
Your next action to ensure brand consistency is to appoint a brand manager. Inevitably, questions will arise about proper application of your brand. When this occurs, those questions should be immediately directed to a pre-designated individual. Brand deterioration never occurs in one dramatic act, but rather over time and through dozens of seemingly inconsequential, but inconsistent decisions. Appointing a single individual to steer the ship will keep your brand on course over the long haul.
Finally, protect your branding by securing a United States trademark. This designation will enhance your brand by preventing others from developing confusingly similar marks within your industry, and it will give you a credible and powerful hammer to use against others who misappropriate your brand.
Do you have a Brand Bible? Do you have a Brand Manager? Do you have a United States trademark? If not, what is your plan for putting them in place?