The 5 Keys to Brand Consistency

It's essential that a company's image is clear across all categories. Here are the most important considerations.

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Brand consistency across all communication channels of your small business is critical. This will enable your customers to instantly distinguish your products or services from those of a competitor.

But first, you have to determine what sets you apart from your competition. Think about how certain benefits or features of your offerings make your business stand out — why should a customer buy from you? If you're struggling to find your company's unique identity, consider consulting with a local Small Business Development Center to help you. Once you determine your company's image, making sure it's consistently reflected across all facets of your business will ensure your brand is instantly recognizable, gaining you loyal customers and setting you apart from your competitors.

To make certain that your brand is consistent across all media, focusing on these five basic elements can help you increase the amount of cohesion:

1. Memorable Tagline and Logo
Develop a logo and a tagline that distinguishes your company from your competition — and make sure it's used across all facets of your business. Your logo doesn't need to be fancy, but it should enable a customer to automatically recognize your products and services, and identify them with a certain expectation of quality.

Because you already have limited time and a small workforce (which might solely be you), you can partner with local colleges, graphic artists and marketers to get help with designs. It's important to make sure that the design reflects you and your unique business, and is simple enough to be translated across different forms of media such as websites, social media networks and customer service components.

2. Recognizable Logo Variations
Make sure your logo variations maintain your single brand identity, while allowing for different sizing and uses across various media. While a logo might feature a company name or even a tagline, don't include anything so detailed that it doesn't work in smaller formats that tend to be used on social media.

3. Familiar Colors, Fonts and Imagery
Make sure your colors, fonts and imagery are consistent and easily identifiable. For example, Coca-Cola's red and Starbucks' green are well known and easily identified. As Williams Advertising points out, it's important to keep your brand's color scheme in mind when using filters on Instagram photos and for your logo's appearance across media. Also consider how specific colors can reflect your business values. For example, the color green would work well for a landscaping company, while using brown or gray would likely convey the wrong message.

4. Consistent Tone and Messaging
Consider how you want to communicate with your customers. As a friend (i.e., hair stylist or beauty consultant)? A partner (i.e., a parts supplier)? An authority (i.e., tax services)? Or as something else? Whatever you decide your messaging to be, make sure it's consistent across all brand platforms.

As a solopreneur, you might be managing all of your company's communications and social media profiles yourself, or you might be outsourcing some of the work. Develop specific brand guidelines so that everyone managing the different components of your business always communicate with customers in the same tone and voice.

5. Ongoing Commitment
Don't rush out with the first branding idea that comes to mind. It's imperative to make sure the branding works across all media and for all communications. You can experiment, and can even leverage social media to inexpensively try small branding experiments until you find something that works. But make sure that you don't invest too much of your hard-earned revenues into a branding effort that doesn't produce the expected benefits or isn't consistent. Taking the time to find the right brand can make all the difference.