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Designing for brand consistency: Building brand recognition

15 Apr 2024 by Debbie Nixon

Ohhhh, a whole blog on our favourite word: consistency.

If you take one thing away from this series, it is that you need to stay consistent with your message, tone of voice, logo, colours, and fonts. How else will people start to recognise your brand if you keep changing it up?

Today we delve into the science(!) of designing for brand consistency. We want to share with you our tips and strategies to ensure that your brand’s visual identity remains cohesive across all touchpoints.
 We’ll illustrate what we’re saying with examples from the master of brand consistency: McDonalds.

Let’s get started!


The importance of brand consistency

Before we dive into the “how,” let’s revisit the “why”. Why is brand consistency so crucial?

  1. Recognition: Consistency breeds recognition. When your audience sees your brand elements – be it a logo, colours, or fonts – repeatedly and consistently, they begin to form a mental imprint of your brand. Horrid analogy, but imagine if we kept changing our faces – you wouldn’t recognise your friends!
 Bringing it back to McDonalds – think how well they use the Golden Arches. Regardless of what language you speak, you can recognise a McDonalds thanks to their consistent brand.
  2. Trust: A consistent brand gives the perception (which should be reality) of professionalism and reliability. It assures your audience that your brand can be trusted.
 Back to our trusty fast-food example: imagine you’re in a foreign country, with foreign cuisines, and fancy something familiar? You know what you’re going to get, thanks to McDonalds’ consistency across the globe. You trust them to deliver what you’re expecting.
  3. Clarity: Consistency simplifies the complex. It streamlines your message, making it easier for your audience to understand and connect with your brand.

  4. Memorability: Brands that stick to their visual identity become memorable. Consistency helps your brand remain top-of-mind. How long and consistently has McDonalds used their jingle, ‘ba da ba ba baaaa…’? I
t’s so memorable that you’ll know exactly what we mean, and you’re probably humming that tune in your head!


How you can maintain visual consistency in your brand

Here are some of our simple tips and strategies to maintain visual consistency across all your brand touchpoints:

  1. Create brand guidelines: Develop comprehensive brand guidelines that outline the correct use of your logo, colour palette, typography, and other visual elements. Make these guidelines accessible to everyone involved in your brand or marketing – anyone who will be using your logo, colours, etc. Read more about brand guidelines. Think about the number of restauranteurs across the world that run a McDonalds franchise: the power of brand guidelines mean that everything remains consistent, regardless of how many people are involved.
  2. Design templates: Create templates for common brand materials, such as social media posts, email signatures, and presentations. These templates should adhere to your brand guidelines, making it easy for team members to create on-brand content. As per our last post, Canva is a great tool for you to upload your brand assets – colours, fonts, etc, and share these with your team to create templates for use across your marketing.

  3. Train your team: Provide training and resources to your team members to ensure they understand and can apply the brand guidelines effectively. This is key, and also involve them in your brand vision, values and purpose. This helps to engage your team and get everyone on the same page. Demonstrating the importance of this, McDonalds even has a McUniversity to train its people in the company’s way.
  4. Regular audits: Conduct regular audits of your brand materials to ensure compliance with brand guidelines. Download our brand audit template.
  5. Centralised asset management: Maintain a central home for brand assets, such as logos, images, and design templates. This ensures that everyone accesses the latest and approved versions. Canva is a simple, cost-effective place for smaller to medium-sized businesses. 

  6. Consistency in tone: Visual consistency goes hand-in-hand with consistency in tone of voice. Ensure that your written and visual comms align in terms of messaging and tone. For example, if you have a friendly tone, don’t suddenly change it to serious and over-professional.
 Think of the tone of voice in McDonalds adverts – how long have they used that narrator? He’s friendly, straightforward and trustworthy: all things that the fast food brand looks to communicate through all they do.


Consistency across all touchpoints

Remember that brand consistency should extend across all touchpoints where your brand interacts with the audience. Whether it’s your website, social media profiles, email marketing, a physical store or customer service, each touchpoint should reflect your brand identity every time.

A good example is McDonalds and their brand consistency across restaurants, print adverts, social media… even down to their takeaway bags with the iconic ‘M’.


Building recognition through uniformity

Designing for brand consistency is about building recognition through uniformity, and presenting a cohesive visual identity to your audience. Consistency is not about stifling creativity, nor should it feel overly repetitive and boring – it’s about channelling it in a way that reinforces your brand’s story, values and personality.


There you have it! Consistency is key… (and is anyone else feeling hungry?)

Join us next time for our next instalment, in which we’ll explore the tangible return on investment that GOOD design can bring to your brand.

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