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The consistency police.

Recently I was asked to weigh in on the importance of (visual) brand standards and what it takes to set them in motion. At Rezonant, this is an area we are unusually passionate about, and my answer really answers what I feel should be the question asked right before this. My thought is--You really can’t think about the graphics standards guide until you ponder this: What’s in the power of a brand and brand consistency?

Branding is not your logo. It’s the DNA behind every experience that a company puts out there; it's omnipresent. An identity happens to be a manifestation of this and becomes a visual shorthand.

The brand is greater than the sum of its parts. The more consistent the visual identity and other tools pay off the experience, the more mileage you get out of each individual one. Not to mention, at Rezonant we believe, more than anything, that consistency in itself (or your evident take on it) is a message that helps establish expectations.

Inconsistency kills brand. If you’re inconsistent, you do way more damage by creating confusion (and wasting money), reducing credibility (by not having “intention”), and ultimately either not being memorable or being memorable in the wrong way. Inconsistency (especially confusion) can also annoy.

One chance for a first (and second) impression. At first glance, looking the part is just as important as actually playing it. A logo (or website) won’t likely sell anything for a company on its own, but it reinforces the brand and helps someone decide if they want to buy.

Prove it first. Before executing the brand visually, establish the proof. (This is a non-negotiable here at Rezonant.) What really makes you special; what can you truly own? What are the core brand elements that are true no matter what the audience or medium? This proof becomes the real key to brand standards because it ultimately is what informs the visual guidelines. Do this once the right way and there is no such thing as reinventing the wheel.

Show it second. Once you create a foundation to which everyone is accountable, it becomes easier (and more obvious) to make decisions about what color, style and font are appropriate. You can't underestimate the importance of making those decisions well; however, if you really know what differentiates you, the execution becomes more organic and comes together more seamlessly.

Did you design or did you brand? In today's environment, where with technology anyone can "design" something, the biggest differentiator you can have is to give some methodical thought to what makes your brand special. Many companies think they don't have to (or don't have time to) anymore. Really, it's the only way to have conviction.

Cracking the whip. Once you make an investment in a brand and understand the need for consistency as its backbone, it's critical to create a keeper of the brand – someone whose responsibility is to drive and manage it. Like the Consistency Police.

- JRD

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