5 Key Elements to Have in Place to Stay Consistent with your Branding
Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought your Instagram feed looks confusing. Or if you’re afraid that your website is a pastiche of different styles, colours and fonts, and it doesn’t match the rest of your branding. If you want to make sure your brand stays consistent throughout your communications and is clear and sharp with your message, you’re at the right place.
You don’t need to be a marketing expert to have a brand that looks solid and consistent on social media or on your website. You just have to:
- Be organised.
- Set up the 5 key elements below from the get-go.
#1 Your logo(s)
It goes without saying that a logo the first ingredient people put together when they start a business. And chances are that you already have one in place. How should your logo be? It can contain only text (such as mine, look above!), or it can also feature an icon, on its own, or accompanying the name of your business. Normally, you will choose one unique font for your logo, and one colour that matches your business voice.
No matter what, you should have more than one variation of your logo. Ideally, you should have at least 3 different alternatives that give you more variety and can adapt to different formats.
- Main logo: This will be your primary logo that you will use most of the time. For example, on your website, your printed graphics or your packaging if you have a product-based business.
- Secondary logo: This will be a variation of your primary logo. It can be either a change in format (if your main logo is horizontal, your secondary logo can be arranged vertically), or a change in colour (if your main logo uses a dark colour, try having a light option to use with bright backgrounds).
- Icon: Usually, an icon will not show the name of your business. It will either feature its initial(s) or go on its own. I would suggest to use the latter option only if your icon is recognizable and unique. You will use your icon on your social media avatars and your website’s favicon.
#2 A little Style Guide
Don’t panic. It doesn’t have to be a beautifully composed style guide created on Adobe Photoshop – it can just be a one page summary of your key colours and fonts. You can use whatever software you feel most comfortable with.
Basically, a style guide will include the name of the fonts that you’ll use throughout your business communications, and exactly how you’ll apply these fonts (whether it is in headings, paragraph or buttons). The style guide will also include the exact hex references of your colour palette. I also like to include a selection of photography, so I can double check the vibe every time I need to source a photo to create a graphic.
It is easy to jump onto the day-to-day of running your business and not spending some time to create this key document — but, believe me, it will be your lifesaver if you’re looking to stay consistent with your branding.
A tip? Print out your one-page style guide and stick it next to your desk. I’ve done it myself and, for example, every time I create a new graphic, I can have a quick look at my brand’s colours without wasting time thinking where on earth I had it jotted down. It helps me be super efficient.
If you have no idea what colours or fonts to choose for your biz, have a read at how to create a brand that reflects your business.
#3 Your brand’s voice (a paragraph)
We tend to believe that branding is just what we see. But what about what we say? We should decide how we’ll speak to our people: are we going to be the loving-mystical ones, or the motivational-go-getters? Are we poetic, or formal? Are we super friendly or more authoritative?
Write it out in one simple paragraph and refer to it whenever you need to feel inspired to write a blog post or an Instagram caption. Also, give it to your team members (for example, your virtual assistant) to make sure all your communication style is consistent and your brand experience is solid.
It is usually easier to infuse your own personality onto your business branding, especially if you and your ideal customer are very aligned.
#4 A selection of 20 photographs
Don’t leave this key element to the very last minute, when you’re minutes away from posting a new graphic on Instagram or on your block. One of the main problems with brand consistency is not lack of expertise — it is rushing into things. For example, selecting a photo that we ‘like’, but not ensuring that it is of the best quality or it is aligned to our brand. Just because you left it to the very last minute and ‘ain’t no time for that’.
Work ahead of time. This is specially important with photography — as it really can make (or break) a website or an Instagram feed.
If already included few images on your style guide, you are halfway there. Go onto a free stock library website, such as Unsplash or Pexels, and research photos that match your brand. Think wide and broad: if you’re a business coach, look for some photos featuring desks and workspaces, but also people, cafés, or anything that can somewhat relate to how you run your business. Download these photos onto a folder, or tag them onto a collection (I personally really love creating collections on Unsplash).I recommend that you have at least 20 photographs on your toolbox, which you can use again and again. A tip? You can use a photo more than once by cropping it and using different areas of the image, or zooming into a detail.
Always make sure that all your photos are aligned with your brand style. Are you using bold, saturated colours, or black and white images?
#5 A set of templates for Instagram (or any other platform)
What is the social media platform that you use the most? Whichever one you choose, take some time at the start of your social content strategy to create some templates. They can be for Instagram captions, Instagram stories, Pinterest, etc. For my business I created 3 templates for Pinterest and whenever I write a blog post, it takes me less than 1 minute to create a graphic to go with it. Seriously, less than 1 minute. I only need to choose which of the 3 templates I’ll use, and change the text.
How can you create a set of templates for, let’s say, Instagram stories?
STEP 1: Decide the key content of your templates
Which type of content do you usually share? For example, new blog posts, inspirational quotes, client testimonials, products, freebies, etc. Jot them down, and decide to design 5 templates. For example, you could have 2 different templates for blog posts, one for inspirational quotes, one for client testimonials and one for freebies (such as in the example below).
STEP 2: Set up and design your template with a design software (Canva)
One of the things I love about Canva is that they already have the templates correctly sized for each platform. You can go and choose a template for ‘Instagram stories’. Add new pages to a total of 5 and start designing. Using the elements that you put into place beforehand (remember, colours, fonts and photographs) will help you flow when designing your templates. Make sure the text is easily readable, standing out from the background and with the proper size. Also, remember to add a link to your website or the name of your business, so people can know its source.
If you have Canva for Work you can then use these templates and automatically resize them to another format. For example, you could reuse them for Instagram captions, and you would only need to fix it slightly to the new format — but you would save A LOT of time.
In the meantime, if you believe that you have bits and pieces of your branding but you’re craving consistency, I recommend that you take some time to put together these 5 key elements.