Consistency Series: Visual Consistency

Why brand consistency is boring… and hyper effective.

Visual brand cohesion is an idea consultants love – the idea that from a mile away a brand can be recognized by the way it portrays itself visually. Executives love it too – it creates direction and decisiveness out of chaos and subjectivity.

Why, then, do so many brands lack visual consistency?

In most cases, it comes down to boredom. Those responsible for managing brands are bright and adaptive thinkers – analytical and creative. They live and breathe their brands every day. When those responsible for the brand are a thousand times more exposed to the brand than the audience is, boredom is a likely outcome. The idea of creating something fresh and interesting takes over, even when the target audience is hardly familiar with the brand. Humans are trained to see patterns and commonality. Brands use visual consistency to communicate that this product or service is developed with the same trust and care you can expect from the brand.

When is visual brand consistency important?

Nearly always. If you run a B2B business and your sales team is your main brand touch point, it is a brand manager’s responsibility to make each of those interactions act as a consistent brand touch point. If you are launching a new pharmaceutical product, the brand experience in clinic, at home, in print, and across media can build a cohesive visual brand reputation.

Especially when building a new brand, starting off with a tight visual strategy is critical. One example of a brand introduction is Novant Health. Novant Health, when introducing the brand, made it clear that purple was the new color in healthcare. Every billboard, ad, leaflet and lab coat was marked with its purple signature.

Even giant brands with huge brand recognition are rethinking their strategy to create a more unified brand image. Coca-Cola, one of the best-known brands in the world, overhauled their can design to create more visual cohesion and increase the prominence of the Coca-Cola wordmark across products.

How do you keep a brand both consistent and interesting?

Make sure you have a full playbook. Yes, your logo usage guidelines should be respected as brand-gospel-truth, but go beyond the logo, beyond icon size and watermarks.

Color – Have a primary color palette that is appropriate for the brand and ownable. Also have a secondary and/or tertiary color palette created with specific purposes in mind. If it doesn’t have a purpose, it is likely to be misused.

Font – Beyond the wordmark, what fonts are at your brand's disposal? What is used for text, for headings, for headlines, etc. and are those guidelines followed across all platforms?

Non-logo visual elements – What other elements can create visual distinction and consistency? A shape, a mark, a common design ratio, a treatment – what could your brand own to capture attention and create cohesion? 

Photography and Imagery – A well thought out perspective on photography style, color treatment, and imagery can really create visual interest and cohesion.

Pattern, Texture and Materials – When color blocks and photos get tired, having on-brand patterns and textures can liven up the visual brand and even make physical spaces come to life.

Motion – Digital platforms and video formats are more and more accessible. How can your brand differentiate itself visually though consistent movement?

Philosophy – Your visual brand is an asset. Just like positioning, copy, point of difference – your visual brand supports your brand and builds its reputation. How can your visual brand philosophy support your brand vision and business goals?

Looking for an assessment or help with visual consistency?

Leaderboard is ready to help.

With a strategic point of view and creative design power, your brand can take the next step in building a lasting impression and reputation with your audience.


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