Branding Mistakes to Avoid: Inconsistency
Your Branding is Inconsistent
Your Brand is All Over the Place
The most common mistake that I see with existing businesses (small and large), although not always noticed right away, is INCONSISTENCY. This inconsistency will be mostly recognized in design style, aesthetics, but can also be flawed their COPY. As a creative, I tend to notice this at first glance, more so than most folks. However, You can rest assured, that this simple mistake will eventually be noticed by your TARGET AUDIENCE, and anyone else that may engage with your brand.
When consulting with clients about how they should view their brand, I always encourage them to think about their business as if it were a real living breathing person, with it’s own PERSONALITY. Your brand should be ENABLED to STAND ON ITS OWN, whether you’re in the room or not. The PERSON, that is your COLLECTIVE BRAND should be able to clearly communicate A MESSAGE based upon its personality. However, the message must be consistent from your logo, to your website, and even your social media posts, images and the words you choose.
An analogy that I often share with people is to think about someone that you may know that when you first met them, you had one impression about who they were as a person, usually based on a variety of factors. Then, you saw them somewhere in a different setting, around a different crowd, and they were speaking and acting like a completely different person. Do you remember how you perceived that person after seeing another side of them that didn’t match up with who you thought they were?
Well, that’s essentially what’s happening when you present your brand in an inconsistent manner. The way your business LOOKS, ACTS, and SPEAKS must all fit together, and make sense to your audience, no matter where or how they arrive to EXPERIENCE your business. At it’s core, inconsistencies can make people feel kind of awkward about YOU (your brand).
Think about the most well known brands in the world. Imagine if Pepsi started using purple, green, yellow, and maroon, in different advertisements, and on their website, and social media posts. What if they used 3 other variations of their logo that looked completely different. It would look kind of wierd, wouldn’t it?
Take a look at Nike’s website (www.nike.com). Notice how all of the font on the page is all the same. Imagine if they use 5 or 6 different types of font? Now bounce around to a couple of other pages on the site. Yep, same font choice. Check out Apple’s website (www.apple.com). What if they decided to use some swirly, decorative font on their website? What if they decided to start using 10 different colors? Click through to any of the pages on these websites, now visit their social media pages. Now, sign-up for their newsletters. Compare all that to their billboard advertisements, and even down to a visit to a Nike or Apple store. Are you getting the picture here?
Now, consider that these two brands are at the top of the list amongst their competitors. Oh, and it’s no conicidence they they just happen to be at the top of the price range in their respective categories. My point is, on one hand, while using only 2 (I would suggest no more than 3) colors, and 1–2 types of font in their branding, and only 1 version of their logo (with a couple different variations that make sense based on application), these represent the best of the best in their respective product categories. In other words, consistency, can have major impact on your brand message, audience perception, and even price.
Now, while you might think that using only one font, and a muted color set is boring, take a close look at the brands that fetch the most money for their products/services. They usually have CONSISTENCY nailed down to a science………or better yet, a STRATEGY………a BRAND STRATEGY.
The REAL COST of Inconsistent Branding
The impression you leave for your POTENTIAL customers, clients, partners, investors, and even employees:
- Low Quality & Cheap
- Not to be Trusted
- Can’t be Taken Seriously
- Easy to Forget (vs. the competiton)
- Not Worth the Time/Money
How to Avoid These Mistakes
- Use the same profile picture, cover picture, name, and bio information across all social media platforms. This makes it easier for people to remember and recognize your brand when they see it.
- COLORS — Stick to a consistent color scheme. The use of too many colors across your brand can be a distraction, and can look messy in most cases (think of a finger painting done by a 4 year old).
- Keep things as SIMPLE as possible. Logo, colors, fonts, etc.
- LOGO — Never use more than 2 (3 is pushing it) logo variations. You may have to consider a variety of applications for your logo mark. Again, to keep confusion down, always opt for SIMPLICITY.
- FONTS — Never use more than 3 fonts, or at least stay within the same font family if you need to use variations (bold, italic, shaded, etc.).
- IMAGES — Be sure to use the same style of photography images. Be mindful of using too many types of filters and certainly be mindful of image quality.
- Create a style guide, which becomes your brand bible in a sense. A style guide helps steer your marketing department in the right direction for specific scenarios in how your branding is to be used across various media, and platforms. For help with this, and all previous items, most folks will be better off with my last piece of advice.
- Hire a professional.