Having a cohesive brand is essential if you’re going to stand out online. Not only does it make you look like you’ve got your stuff together, it also makes your brand feel more high-end.
So many people tend to focus on the visuals of their brand without really putting much thought into their voice or message. That’s a big mistake, friend!
Your brand voice has to match up with your visuals. It’s non-negotiable if you want a rock-solid brand experience for your clients.
This such an important topic and I’m so excited to have my friend Megan Hampson from Letterform Creative here today to talk to you about it! Megan is an awesome branding expert and I know she has lots of juicy goodness to share with you! So take it away, Megan:
Consistency in your visual identity and messaging is essential in order to create a trustworthy and relatable brand. Potential clients want to know and like your brand before they purchase from it. If there are inconsistencies in how your brand is presented, it will create confusion, and potentially even distrust.
Below are some actionable ways to create consistency between the visual part of your brand and the written part of it. Go through the checklist in each section to make sure you’re creating a cohesive experience for anyone who comes in contact with your business.
ESTABLISH YOUR BRAND PERSONALITY
Before creating the visual identity of your business it’s important to define the overall personality of your brand. Establishing a strong foundation on which to build your brand is important. The following questions and exercises will help you uncover the building blocks of your brand.
- List 3-5 adjectives that describe your company. (Using bullet points.)
- How would you like your company to be perceived? (Expound upon your previous answer, using complete sentences.)
- Who is your ideal client? (Include their age, income, profession, location, tastes, etc.)
- What other brands/companies does your ideal client like? (Think outside of your own industry.)
- What can you learn from the companies in your previous answer about your ideal client’s visual preferences? (Look for styles, colors, and other similarities across these brands.)
- If your brand was a person where would it shop and what kind of clothes would it wear?
- Create a Pinterest board that captures the overall mood and style of your business. Include brands and logos you like, but also add some lifestyle, interior, fashion, and travel photos for a more complete picture. For help on creating an effective Pinterest board read this article.
DETERMINE HOW TO VISUALLY PORTRAY YOUR BRAND PERSONALITY
Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of your brand in place, you can start creating your brand identity. Your brand identity is the visual part of your branding.
You can learn more about the difference between branding and brand identity here. If you can afford it, now is the time to hire a professional designer to help you bring your vision to life.
For those on a tight budget, you can DIY your brand identity. Use the information you collected above to start putting a face on your brand. Every visual decision you make should align with the personality you’ve created for your business.
If you’re doing your own branding, focus on three main parts: the logo, fonts, and color palette. If you’re hiring a designer, then your branding might include other things like patterns, icons, or illustrations.
Creating your own logo is difficult, so search for a pre-made one if you don’t have the budget for a custom logo yet.
When choosing one remember the visual style that your ideal client is drawn to, as well as your brand personality. With that in mind search for a pre-made logo on Etsy. Many independent designers also sell pre-made logos on their own site.
Next, choose 1-2 fonts that have the same personality as your business. These will be your brand fonts. If you’re choosing two fonts consider using a sans serif as one, since those tend to pair well with most other fonts. Stick to using only these fonts in all your branded material.
For your color palette, keep it simple and choose 2-3 colors. Remind yourself of the adjectives you used to describe your company. Make a list of colors that you associate with those adjectives.
Look back at the other companies your ideal client likes and your Pinterest board. Are there any colors you see repeatedly? Consider using those in your own color palette.
If you need more detailed help with any of these steps, my free Mini Branding Guide will walk you through them.
- Find a logo that reflects the personality of your brand.
- Choose 1-2 fonts that align with that personality.
- Decide on a color palette of 2-3 colors that represent your brand personality
DETERMINE HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR BRAND PERSONALITY THROUGH YOUR COPY
After you have the visual part of your brand in place, it’s important that your brand voice aligns with it. This is where a professional copywriter will really come in handy. It can be hard to find a voice that resonates with your ideal client and to keep that voice consistent with your branding. If you struggle with this, talk to Melanie!
If you’re unable to invest in a copywriter right now, here are some exercises that can help you find your voice. Remind yourself of the personality of your brand before getting started.
Think about your ideal client and choose a person that fits that profile, preferably a real person, and even better if you know them. If you can’t think of a specific person, then imagine as many specifics about this ideal client as you can: her personality, her business, her likes, her dislikes.
Now draft a personal letter or email to her, as if writing to a friend. You’re not pitching anything. Just write her a letter to catch up on life and ask about her business.
Once you’ve completed the letter, review the overall tone of it. Is it personal and friendly? Professional and sophisticated? Does the tone match up with the personality of your business? If so, draft all future business communications as if writing to that individual.
Another fun way to give personality to your copy is to add the unique phrases that you already use in day to day conversation. Ask those who know you best if there are any phrases you say regularly that are particularly memorable.
For example, I had a client who would start almost every email with “Hey sister!”. Because of that I used that phrase on the contact page of her website. It’s a small thing, but it brings out her personality right from the start. Do you have a certain way of starting or ending every email? If so, try using it somewhere on your website.
- Draft a letter to your ideal client, then practice writing a blog post to her.
- Ask friends and family if you have any unique phrases.
- Review your past emails for things you say a lot.
- Re-read the copy on your website and see if it speaks to your ideal client (bonus if you have an ideal client review it for you and provide feedback!).
Creating a cohesive brand across the board will help potential clients know, like, and trust your business. It’s important to periodically review the information you collected in section one of this article, as it will act as a guide in all business decisions.
As your business grows you may find that things have changed and you need to tweak your answers. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you change your visuals and voice to match. As cliché as it may be, consistency is key!
Megan Hampson founded Letterform Creative in 2016. As an army wife, she wanted a job that she could take with her and that would allow her to focus on the types of projects she loves. Her passion lies in helping small business owners increase their confidence through beautiful branding and professional websites. She loves the opportunity to empower fellow entrepreneurs. The lasting friendships she makes with clients is her favorite part of the job. She currently lives in Ft. Irwin, CA (aka the middle of nowhere).