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Be Consistent in Your Branding Strategies

Pointers for developing a memorable identity for your online business

Your business brand is your calling card. It embodies your hard-earned business credentials, and it engages your customers, old and new.

Why, then, would you utilize your brand in disconnected methods as you work to saturate the various communication and commerce platforms? The easy answer: You wouldn’t (not intentionally, anyway).

Good brand “penetration” occurs when the brand is developed in concert with accompanying elements that reinforce the produce promise and consumer experience. Various elements, used together or separately, in a consistent fashion, are the makings of a well-remembered brand. Here are some branding strategies to help you develop a brand approach and apply consistent use of it.

Make your brand recognizable, in color and black and white

These days, we’re awash in brands: logos, iconic images and immediately recognizable proprietary typefaces. Hopefully, your business brand includes a company name or design that your customers will remember every time they see it. As you’re considering that brand emblem, though, be sure it not only embodies the spirit of your business but is easily translatable in color or in monotone.

No matter what color is used to represent the swoosh, the apple or the shell, you’ll know you’re engaging with Nike, Apple or Shell, respectively

Consider the Nike swoosh, the Apple apple and the Shell oil shell. Each of those brand emblems can be quite vibrant when presented in color yet are just as notable when presented in a single color. Many times, your brand will appear in black and white (think of business documents and letterhead, invoices, customer receipts and so on).

No matter what color is used to represent the swoosh, the apple or the shell, you’ll know you’re engaging with Nike, Apple or Shell, respectively.

Conversely, the monotone proposition might be a bit troublesome for brands such as Google, eBay or BP (British Petroleum). These brands are well recognized for their consistent use of color, but what happens when the tints are drained from the brands?

While it wouldn’t be absolutely catastrophic for these three examples, it still dampens the look of the brands. And, if this is the case, why not just opt for color every time in this print-on-demand-in-any-color world we live in? Simply, printing everything in color cost more money than selectively electing to use black and white representation.

So begin your path to brand consistency by developing a brand or insignia that looks stellar in all colors—or none at all—and you’ll know you’ve achieved the most important goal of all brands: sight recognition in all places, however it’s presented.

Develop a tagline to continue your brand’s promise

Next, if you don’t already have one, a company or brand tagline (sometimes referred to as a slogan) is a tried-and-true method of further cementing your brand’s promise in the minds of your customers.

Citing popular examples, “Just do it,” “I’m lovin’ it” and “You’re in good hands” are taglines that embody the brand promise while asserting the consumer’s expectation. And, in time, simply hearing or seeing the well-crafted tagline is all that is needed to conjure a mental image of the company or product it represents.

Your goal is for customers to consistently see your brand, read your tagline and associate the two to expand the narrative of the benefit that your brand offers

Taglines are often of two sorts: descriptive or expressive. The aforementioned taglines are expressive; they conjure a feeling associated with the brand or product. If yours is a new brand, you’ll likely want to develop a descriptive tagline that tells what your product is to customers who aren’t yet familiar with it. Examples of descriptive taglines include “It’s not just a package, it’s your business” (FedEx) and “The curiously strong mints” (Altoids).

When you establish a tagline, use it consistently, and be sure it accompanies your brand always. Your goal is for customers to consistently see your brand, read your tagline and associate the two to expand the narrative of the benefit that your brand offers. And, consider the potential to utilize design in your tagline such that it becomes a graphic extension of your brand.

A bit of variety can improve consistency

While it sounds counterintuitive to the premise being set forth here, take note of how some brands are effective in maintaining subtle differences in their branding. Consider the McDonald’s example and ask if you’d be well aware of the brand being promoted when you see a red T-shirt with “I’m lovin’ it” emblazoned in yellow. It wouldn’t be necessary to include the McDonald’s name nor the famous golden arches to indicate it’s the restaurant that’s being promoted.

By incorporating a branding strategy of subtlety, a company can create refreshing variety in its promotions without ever sacrificing the customers’ awareness of the brand being presented. In the markets or situations where this approach is used, it’s beneficial to solidify that method in a repeating (consistent) manner.

It will speak to the target customer segment in a way they’ll remember without the need to display the actual brand or logo at every turn.

Wherever you present your brand, consider the design, accompanying taglines and potential to inject some variety in usage depending upon the place or situation. When developed properly, all of this works in a cohesive manner to help you establish your promise, open a narrative with customers and deliver an experience they’ll come to expect and enjoy.

The consistency, albeit subtle, is the persistence in tone and style you present, that which is always “on message” without being heavy handed and always working to best describe and express your brand’s promise. That’s the sort of branding that customers will be more likely to recognize and remember.

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About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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