When I was studying graphic design, I remember my instructors repeatedly mentioning –harping really– about “design consistency”. Since then, this principle has stuck in my mind and, as a designer, I understand how inconsistent design can harm your brand.
“An image is worth a thousand words.” Nothing is closer to the truth than this statement, at least when it comes to branding. You can create a strong, easily identifiable brand by being consistent in the look, feel, and message conveyed by your design. Our job as designers is to provide artwork that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but effective at communicating as well. Transmitting the message concisely across your chosen platforms is a serious task that needs to be monitored closely while developing the concept–right from the start.
So how can inconsistency in your branding be harmful? Well, imagine you are new in the market and your potential customers still don’t know much about you or what your brand stands for. When they look to your company the first thing they notice is an image, whether that be your logo or the colours or the message, and they begin to associate this with your brand. This becomes a signifier for them, and for your brand. However, should they visit your website and find that the colours are different, or the message is different–they will be confused at best, and find you unreliable at worst. They might even think they’ve stumbled upon the wrong website. And lo and behold you’ve already lost a client before even having a chance to share your product with them, all due to inconsistent branding.
On the flipside of this, when a user finds a familiar symbol or a recognizable logo, they already have an idea (and expectations) of what your brand stands for. When the branding is the same, be it from print to web or web to print, you can spend less time telling your story and more time selling your product. Social media is an excellent example of an area where sharp and eye-catching design mixed with design consistency allows you to reach a greater number of potential customers. Whether it be a subconscious action on their part, clicking on a familiar logo, or a conscious appreciation of consistency (which, like a fresh pressed shirt and clean pair of shoes, also speaks to professionalism), consistent branding can easily draw people in.
When you provide a connection between the user and your company, you’re building a relationship with your customer. When you nurture that relationship with consistency, it grows and you become a reliable business. When you are inconsistent, you plant doubt in the mind of your potential customer. It may seem like an inconsequential detail, but consistent design has the ability to build, or ruin, your reputation.