Over the years, I’ve been a part of so many great conversations with talented creatives within the industry who are struggling when it comes to creating visual brand consistency.
Now I get it. Branding is a complex and multifaceted concept. There is so much more that goes into your brand than just your logo or color palette. But what happens and how do you as a creative, find an intentional and strategic way to create a visual consistent brand without having to hire a designer every single time?
A lot of people simply don’t know where to start. So today, I want to break down this idea a little bit more so you can understand what a visually consistent brand looks like and how you can implement it within your brand. No designer required.
Three easy ways to create visual brand consistency without hiring a professional designer
Ultimately it comes down to three simple steps. If I’m being completely honest, simplicity is the best policy here.
With the concept of branding being so multifaceted and with so many different strategies and approaches to keep in mind, it’s important that if you’re going to build a brand that’s visually consistent, cohesive and instantly recognizable that you take the simplest route possible.
If you are trying to overcomplicate things and pour too many colors, fonts or ideas into your brand, then you’re only going to create a very scattered and inconsistent presence that your ideal client won’t recognize. And if they can’t recognize your brand, then how in the world can they get in touch with you or come across your work and choose to hire you.
1. KEEP YOUR COLOR PALETTE COHESIVE
First and foremost, if we are going to figure out a way to create visual consistency with your brand, we need to keep your color palette cohesive.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to say it again—this is a great opportunity to keep your color palette simple.
If you are pulling in too many colors or a ton of texture and bright and vibrant hues that compete for someone’s attention visually, then that’s going to overwhelm your ideal client whenever they see your visuals in action.
So instead, we need to focus on simplifying your color palette. Ideally, I love to see everyone working with a strong cohesive color palette of no more than six colors. What that does is it gives you a huge amount of variety. Trust me friend, you’ll be amazed what you can do with only three or four strong colors than if you tried to have more than six.
By limiting the amount of colors you are pulling in, that gives you a huge amount of variety in how you can use those colors. And it also gives you a great opportunity to reinforce your brand’s color palette simply because you are using those colors over and over again.
It’s not repetitive, it’s consistent. And it’s training your ideal client to think of you, your brand and your services whenever they come across those specific colors online or in person.
For my branding clients, I actually focus on building color palettes that range between four and five colors. That gives us some great options that we can utilize through their logo, their alternate logos and pull in some beautiful accent colors to infuse a pop of color or soften things up a bit. We also identify some strong bold colors that can work well for body copy, website headings and things like that.
If you feel like you have too many colors and you don’t know how to implement them into your brand, then that tells me as a designer, you are working with too many colors to begin with.
So when in doubt, simplify.
2. PAIR DOWN YOUR FONT PAIRINGS
Step two to creating visual branding consistency without hiring a designer is to pair down your font choices.
What this looks like in action is choosing just a handful—I would say no more than three fonts—to use throughout your visuals. Having three strong font options gives you the flexibility to have a beautiful heading, a strong subheader and an easily legible font for body copy.
Any more than three font pairings and you start to run into the the territory where things can get out of hand quickly.
If you are working with multiple fonts that exceed three or four, then that is actually a great opportunity to bring in a professional designer—someone who understands how different font families work together or how different typefaces compliment each other—and then they can help identify the best ways to use those different fonts.
A big thing to keep in mind is if you are pulling in a lot of different hand lettered or calligraphy-inspired fonts, for as beautiful as they look they actually will clash together. It’s important to balance out the fonts you are using.
A good rule of thumb I like to follow with my 1:1 branding clients is to have one strong and classic serif font. One simple and clean sans serif font. And then one beautiful script or calligraphy-inspired font as an accent.
By doing this, it gives you a lot of variety so you can create an easily legible, eye-catching header and subheader on your website. And then you can also pepper in a soft, more hand lettered font here and there for a touch of personality.
So simplify your font options and I promise you will have more font pairings than you think.
Hopefully at this point you’ve noticed that a key thing here is to pair things down to simplify and refine. I’m not telling you this to be boring or limit your options. But ultimately, if you are able to be intentional and limit down the number of choices you have when it comes to things like font options or color palettes, then you’ll actually be able to see all the beautiful ways you can mix and match those colors and fonts together in order to create an infinite about of combinations for your visual brand.
3. CHOOSE IMAGERY THAT SPEAKS TO YOUR BRAND’S AESTHETIC
The third step for creating visual brand consistency is to choose imagery that speaks to your brand’s aesthetic.
I can’t say enough good things about investing in quality photos that reflect your brand. And I’m not just talking about images that capture your brand’s color palette or style. I’m talking about images that reflect the desired emotion you want your ideal client to feel and receive when they work with you. Images that reflect your best work and also capture you in action.
If you have the resources, I highly recommend working with a photographer in your area who can create custom imagery of your brand in action. This can look like styled flatlays of your style or service. Maybe beautiful stock photo you create or whatever that might look like for you.
But it also can look like photos of you doing your work in action.
That’s something as simple as sitting down at a local cafe over coffee with a client and having a photographer capture that in the right setting. Or maybe it’s you in your studio painting or hand lettering envelopes.
Whatever your product or service is, having custom brand imagery gives you a huge amount of variety you can implement throughout your social channels, on your website and through so many other touchpoints to create that visual consistency that your ideal client can recognize.
Now if you don’t have the resources to invest in custom photography at this point in time, thankfully there are some really great resources out there that can help you achieve a high-end look without all of the associated cost.
My go-to resource for styled stock photography that can really elevate your brand is the SC Stockshop. This is a shop packed with high-quality beautiful styled images in a rainbow of color palettes with a variety of looks and feels.
Personally for me, this is the same resource I’ve used over the years for myself and where I send my own custom branding clients if they are looking for styled stock photos to pepper throughout their digital resources or their online presence.
I love picking up beautiful blush or gold images from the SC Stockshop to use throughout my social content or to pepper throughout guides and freebies I’m creating for my email list.
So friend, don’t feel stuck if you don’t have a photographer in your area. There are a ton of options when it comes to styled stock that you can use to still build that visual brand consistency.
How to create visual brand consistency without hiring a designer
At this point I hope you’ve noticed all of these things are totally doable. One of the biggest pain points I hear from creatives just like you, is they want to create a visual consistent brand, but they just don’t know how or where to start.
Well friend, it’s as easy as keeping your color palettes simple, and using those colors over and over again.
It’s as simple as editing your font pairings and giving each of those fonts a specific function and then using them dependably.
And it’s as easy as pulling in photos that capture your brand’s aesthetic in action and then peppering them throughout your social media content, your website, and other touch points.
When you start to implement these ideas over and over again, you are actually creating a pattern that is training your ideal client to think of you whenever they see these colors, fonts and images. And the beautiful thing is if you are able to use these ideas over and over, they are actually able to help build a dependable, recognizable online presence that can resonate with your ideal client time and time again.
But if you are constantly changing things or using too many visual elements, then you are unintentionally making it impossible for your ideal client to recognize you online.
If the steps above sound like more than you are ready to take on at this point in time. Or if you know that delegating those to a professional will be the best use of your time and resources in the long run, then I’d love to chat with you about crafting an elevated and strategic brand.
I’m currently accepting 1:1 custom branding projects for early 2019 and it would be such an honor to work together to create an elevated heartfelt brand that reflects the heart of your life’s work.