Just slapping your logo on your sites and printed matter is not enough. If you want to build the kind of cohesive brand identity that sticks with customers and gives the impression of polished professionalism, you’ll go beyond the logo and look for all the ways you can add consistency to your visual branding. It might seem like a lot of little inconsequential details, but added together they add up to the kind of branding that inspires confidence in customers.
1. Use a consistent color palette.
These should be colors that complement the colors used in your logo used in a way that conforms with the principles of good design. Even if your logo contains neon green, don’t use neon colors for your fonts! Although most of us can match well enough to dress ourselves, it’s worth the money to consult with a professional designer who can design a color scheme that will work well with websites and printed material and advise you on how to use it.
If a professional is simply out of the budget, there are many websites that can help you design a palette (search for “color palettes” or “color combinations”), but be sure to use good sense with what colors you pick for which purpose.
2. Stick with a handful of fonts.
It might seem fun to choose a different font for each page or project, but it can come across as amateurish. Choose fonts that are easy to read and work well for a variety of purposes. You can be a bit more creative with fonts used for headlines but again, pick one or two and use it consistently across all of your materials.
3. Use custom design elements.
All of those little buttons and icons should coordinate with each other and not be randomly picked. One of the best ways to do this is to have them custom made for your sites by a graphic designer. This way they can be styled to complement your logo, color scheme and the general impression you are going for.
It it’s not possible to get custom design elements, then at least take care and time in picking a set of graphics that work with your site and use them consistently.
4. Use a theme when choosing art/illustrations.
Some sites use only cartoons to illustrate their pages, others use black and white photography or line art or pictures of dogs. You’ll want to choose art that fits the impression you wish to give of your site (whimsical, serious, artistic, etc) and use it consistently.
Having half of the pages on your site illustrated with corporate stock art photography and the other half with clip art drawings is jarring and looks slapped together, not crisp and well thought out.
5. Have a consistent voice.
Even if you’re doing all the writing yourself, you’ll want to be mindful that you use the same general tone and level of formality in all your writing. Choose a writing style that meshes well with the image you’d like to portray and the market you’d like to appeal to and then use it consistently.
Make sure any writers you hire understand your voice and can produce work consistent with it. Considering hiring an editor to look over all written materials to ensure that spelling, grammar and style are consistent through out.
6. Create different versions of your logo. You won’t always have the same size and shaped space for your logo, so make sure you’re prepared with a logo that has horizontal and vertical version and can be scaled to look good in a variety of sizes. Depending on the design, you might want a version that’s black and white, as simply turning off the color can result in a muddy looking mess of a logo.
Being as consistent as possible with the visual look of all your materials helps create a strong brand identity that won’t be forgotten. Neglecting these little details can come across as slip shod, unprofessional and brand you as an amateur.