Consistent branding is just as crucial for small businesses as it is the most iconic brands of our time. Brand imagery is the visual theme that ties all of a company’s marketing efforts and services together, thereby fostering trust among customers and promoting visibility. From a business’s website to its employee uniforms, all mediums both digital and physical can work to support a brand’s identity.
But ensuring that your branding message is consistent from one medium to another is not always easy. Design and marketing best practices differ between physical and digital mediums, and so it can be difficult to achieve a unified branding message across varying platforms. What looks great on a smartphone may not translate so well to store signage.
As a small business owner, your goal should be to create branding that is both consistent and flexible. Achieving the right balance here makes it possible that your company imagery will look attractive and be recognizable no matter where you choose to use it. Here are five tips to create branding that works just as well on the web as it does in-person:
Pick your brand colors wisely, but don’t rely on this palette too much
Colors influence our perception of brands, something that marketing experts absolutely put into practice. But even if it may seem as simple as just picking a color palette and applying it to every marketing resource you own, this approach is short-sighted and can be detrimental as your marketing efforts grow. Relying too heavily on defined colors can make your brand imagery less flexible in application.
Your brand logo and primary slogans should be identifiable no matter what color they are. You should always consider the possibility that your logo may appear in black-and-white or alongside other colors with which it clashes.
Start small before you go big
Your logo needs to look good and recognizable at all dimensions, from a favicon to a billboard. A mistake that many small businesses make is to design a logo first and foremost for their street signage – then they are left with an intricate, wide-angle design that is completely illegible as a thumbnail.
When designing your business logo, always start with the thumbnail and work your way out from there. It is important that you establish the most minimal core of your logo before you expand it.
Figure out your fonts
If you buy a web template, you may be tempted to just use the fonts that come with it for your website. The trouble is, maybe your email marketing program comes with another set of fonts. And maybe your graphic design software comes with yet another.
Spend some time selecting a range of complimentary fonts for different purposes like headlines, body text, subheads, etc. Using the same fonts in all your marketing literature will make sure that your message always reads with a familiar feel.
Match your message to your materials
How your logo is displayed is just as important to its effectiveness as the graphic. Display is much more abstract when designing for the web, but when designing for print the materials you use have a big impact on the look and feel of your brand.
If your brand is meant to foster feelings of ease and relaxation, you should consider display materials like wood or canvas prints. If it is meant to have a more fast-paced feel, then aluminum dibond or etched glass decals may make for better materials.
Create a branding guide
Don’t let your brand imagery get diluted through improper use. Whether for your reference or for that of third-party designers, creating a branding guideline is always a good idea. Store all your color hexcodes, fonts, and logo variations in one place for easy access.
Developing a marketing strategy that works seamlessly between the online and offline realms is no simple matter, but consistent and flexible brand imagery can do a lot to make this process simpler. When your digital and in-person presences match one another, your brand can be recognized with greater ease, allowing your products and services to shine.
Joe Robison is the Marketing Director of Coastal Creative, a reprographics company in San Diego, CA, where he and his team work on all sorts of projects from vehicle wraps, to wall murals, to trade show materials. You can read his thoughts about SEO and Digital Marketing on his blog.