Being a designer and working in the creative industry - professionally and in my side gig - I really see the benefits of creating and maintaining a consistent brand. It's really important no matter what size your business is or how far along you are. Whether a startup or a side hustler, quality, consistent, branding can set you apart from your competition and help you to attract your ideal clientele. That is why it is important to get it right.
It's not uncommon for people to assume that a brand is just a logo or a website. Sorry to break the news folks, but that's not the case. Branding is sooo much more than just a logo or website. For starters, branding includes visual impact (digital and print), communication, and also customer experience. These elements together build your brand and can have a major impact on your business.
Example : J's Jewels
Let me explain. So you have a beautiful business selling hand-made jewellery. You realise there is a market for your niche product and you have all your stock ready to sell to all those people who want to buy your product.
You know your handmade goods are being created with the best jewels and gems going. The labour put into creating these one-off pieces is time-consuming, but so worth it. You are happy with your business name too.
At this stage, you have everything you need to really take your business off the ground.
So what's the next step you may think? Well, people will be able to find you if you have a website! So then you start putting together a website but realise its harder than it looks. Nonetheless, you carry on and put together a site the best you can.
Then you realise you could promote your jewellery with a few flyers, print some business cards for yourself and also create some awesome thank you cards to really elevate the service of quality goods you create.
Whilst you were designing the site, creating your flyers, printing your business cards in preparation to sell your beautiful products, you made some shortcuts - You quickly put together a logo, decided you liked certain colours as they are your favourite, and you botched together a website because it's so easy to do on Wix….
It doesn't really matter that the fonts are different, does it?..and you begin to like the fact that the logo is different on your website to your flyers and business card - you think it keeps it interesting.
Let me stop you there...what does that say about your brand? about your business?
I can tell you that the inconsistency is doing way more damage than you think. Even though you don't realise it you are indirectly hindering yourself.
This will most likely be the main visual element that your customers will associate with your business. By changing this on different mediums - website to flyers - you may think it's keeping it interesting, but in fact, it is misleading. Your customers will most likely be confused as they won't be able to associate the two different logos being for the same business. When have you ever seen Coca-cola or Starbucks using 2 different logos?
Tip - Having a variation of your primary logo is fine, as it still relates to your business and the original design is kept intact.
Colour Palette and Fonts
Colours and fonts may seem like wishy-washy elements, after all.. Red is red, right?…Drastically changing the colours you use on your flyers and printed material to your website can have the same effect as using two different logos. It doesn't build trust. It builds inconsistency.
Tip - Ensure you have a set colour palette, and, at least, a primary font for your businesses visual brand.
Website and Social media
Although there are quite a few sites that you can build your own website with, it doesn't mean it's easy. Using "one of your logos" and adding colours that really "catch your customers eyes" doesn't necessarily mean its good design or design that is helping you make sales or convert users into customers.
What is your tone of voice like on your website? Is it professional or relaxed? and before you think it doesn't matter, read on….
Facebook is great isn't it - you can make a Facebook page to promote your product and keep your customers in the loop. You can even share your latest range and talk directly to your customers. Will you share posts that are more personal or will you keep the nature of your business page more professional?
Tip - Ensuring the tone of voice, messaging and communication is in line with your brand is important. It reassures your customers that you are real, that you are not a fraud. Regards to your website; is it easy to navigate? Is it suitable for mobiles and tablets?
Business cards and other printed material
Although these elements are "smaller", they are still impactful. Printing a professional business card and delivering a service or a product that lacks professionalism or vital information is by far a rookie mistake and one that has serious consequences.
Tip - Do these elements contain all the right information, i.e. the right logo, links to your website, etc?
In the example above, J's Jewels creates high quality, hand made, bespoke jewellery. The product may be brilliant and beautiful, but to deliver the product, the quality and that experience through a brand and website requires more than a quick fix or a rushed "short-cut" approach. It requires a little more thinking.
That is why I wanted to provide a simple branding checklist for you and your business, whether that be a startup, established a small business, or a side hustle.
Don't forgot the necessities in making sure your brand and business are up to scratch, check them off your list to ensure you are creating a consistent brand and message when building your business. This is especially useful if you don't have time to think of what you need to do!