Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
Okay, so the word sounds like a snooze, but consistency can actually be your branding BFF. After all, the biggest benefits of a strong nonprofit brand–creating one clear impression of your organization, increasing recognition and trust, and making communications easier and more efficient–really aren’t being met unless you’re insistent on being consistent.
Here are a few good ways to do it:
1. Create a brand guide.
It’s tough to be consistent without documentation of what to be consistent with. So, if you don’t have one yet, develop a brand guide. A brand guide is more than a how-to manual on using your logo, colors, or templates (though this information should certainly be included). The most effective brand guides also articulate big-picture standards like your organization’s positioning and personality as well as messaging elements including your vision, mission, key messages, and boilerplate text.
Your brand guide should be a resource for everyone at your organization, so make sure it’s shared beyond the communications department. The more people understand and are excited about the brand, the more likely they are to use it correctly and consistently.
2. Consider all communications.
Chances are, you’ve put some thought into brand consistency on your website and brochures. But what about your office space? Or your Facebook posts? Or the person who answers your phones? Your brand doesn’t just include the communications you develop intentionally–it’s the impression left by every interaction people have with your organization. And if you’re not using each of these opportunities to reinforce your brand, you could be sending some very mixed messages.
The diagram below (from Alina Wheeler’s Designing Brand Identity) identifies several ways people might experience your organization. Put yourself in their shoes, examine each point of contact, and make sure they’re all adding up to form a unified–and accurate–impression.
3. Keep it fresh.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about consistency is that it leaves little room for creativity. The truth is anything but. A well-defined brand provides a consistent framework within which you can get as creative as you want. Just think of any ad campaign for Target. Their communications team is continually coming up with fun, fresh ideas, and yet they’re all unmistakably, well…Target. And that’s the true value of consistency done well–when people see something new you’ve done and instantly recognize it as a communication from your organization.
Have more thoughts on consistency? Leave a comment.