Consistency is everything.
It’s a mantra that has been applied to parenting, sleep patterns, pushups, product design, and everything in-between.
Today, for the purpose of this blog, it’s the perfect idea to apply to brands.
The most recognizable, beloved and remembered brands have at least one thing in common: they are consistent. Meaning, that they appear the same in image and messaging to everyone who interacts with them anywhere.
- Just do it.
- The Big Brown Truck
- The Golden Arches
You can see these brands in your mind and there’s no confusion about what you see.
In contrast, ask yourself,
- What’s Asics tagline?
- Do you know what two colors make up the FedEx logo?
- What do you picture when you think of the Olive Garden brand? (Hint: it’s not olives that share space on the restaurant’s sign.)
If you find these examples a bit more difficult to recall, you’re not alone. Your logo is your identity. It’s the primary way that customers, potential customers, your employees and your nosey neighbor recognize your brand. The parts of your logo and brand need to be clear, and its usage and guidelines consistent.
There’s a reason you don’t see Dunkin Donuts swapping out its “o” with a picture of a chocolate glazed donut one minute, and a maple frosted the next.
It’s cringe-worthy to see local companies misusing their brands, oftentimes without even really knowing it. My personal pet peeve is when I see brands occasionally use their logo or products to replace letters in their company name. There’s a reason you don’t see Dunkin Donuts swapping out its “o” with a picture of a chocolate glazed donut one minute, and a maple frosted the next. Consistency is everything.
Here are some logo usage tips to keep your brand in tiptop shape.
How many logo variations do you need? At least two, with an online and print version of each.
- A horizontal layout that includes your logo, business name and/or tagline.
- A square or vertical layout that may include your business name and/or tagline, but doesn’t have to.
With social media avatars being primarily square, if your vertical logo is more of a rectangle, you should develop a square option as well.
You might not actively use both logo variations—for example, many tech companies opt for the sleek, slightly mysterious, no-text option for all their printed and online branding materials—but you do need to at least define what all options would look like on the off-chance a special circumstance does arise. Nobody wants a last minute cut-and-paste job to represent his or her business.
Here are some other logo questions you should consider.
- Will your logo be flat? Will it be 3D? If you have both, which will be used where (print, digital, broadcast, embroidery)?
- Can your logo appear with a drop shadow? What about in outline? Can it be rotated to appear on an angle?
- To ensure readability and recognition, what’s the minimum size that you’ll allow your logo to be?
- How much white space do you require between your logo and other graphics, photography or other marks?
- Do you need to have a black and white version? (The answer is: yes.)
- Does your brand need to be adjusted for international audiences?
- What happens when an employee, business partner, media outlet or your nosey neighbor uses your logo without adhering to your brand guidelines? What actions do you plan to take to correct this?
You also need to define the fonts and colors associated with your brand. Many companies will use three different fonts, one for headers, one for subheads and the final for body copy. If your printed fonts are serifs, you may want to consider san serif variations for your online presence.
Make sure you keep a color palette handy for your brand as well. The palette should define the acceptable colors that are to be used in all applications, including signage, printed materials, website, apparel and wherever else identify is needed. Your palette key should include the color name, pantone, CMYK, RGB and hexadecimal identifications.
Overwhelmed? Here’s an example of a trademark and brand policy for Twitter. It’s easy to read and covers pretty much everything, which it would need to, considering the millions of people and business who link to and repurpose Twitter’s content and brand everyday.
Have a branding best practice that’s been helpful for your business? Share it in the comments below.