Hello, hello, welcome back to the Homemakers in Business podcast – 2.0 edition! I am super excited to start this new leg of my podcasting journey with you. In case you missed the last episode, I’m changing things up around here a bit. This will now be a weekly show, airing every Friday at 5AM CST, and I’ll be interviewing actual homemakers in business! Solo episodes aren’t going anywhere, don’t worry, you’re actually going to be getting the same content you were prior to this episode, but with the addition of 2 extra episodes per month. Depending on how far ahead I can get with these interviews, every other episode will include a guest. If there’s ever a scheudling error where I can’t get a guest on for whatever reason, you’ll simply get a bonus solo episode.
I believe this change is going to be great for the Homemakers in Business podcast community. You’ll be introduced to other women in business that maybe you’ll want to hire, purchase a gift from, or even just become friends with. I already have a few wonderful guests lined up, including a travel advisor, an interior designer, and a functional medicine doctor. Seriously cannot wait to chat with these incredible women!
On that note, if you would like to be a guest on the show, please don’t hesitate to fill out the application on my website. The URL is stephanieduke.co/podcast. You could also just click the link in the show notes. I’m not concerned about interviewing multiple women in the same industry, so if you’re listening to this at a later date and are thinking, “Darn, she’s already had a copywriter on.” Please still fill out the application! You all have a unique business story and experiences to share that I’m sure everyone wants to hear.
Alright, with that little reminder out of the way, let’s get into today’s topic.
So what is design consistency? It refers to the intentional and cohesive application of design elements across all visual aspects of your brand. It involves maintaining uniformity in elements such as color schemes, typography (aka fonts), photography style, and overall aesthetics to create a cohesive and recognizable brand identity. Recognizable being the keyword here. Design consistency ensures that every touchpoint, from logos and websites to physical marketing materials and social media posts, aligns seamlessly to reinforce a strong and memorable brand image.
There is specific imagery attached to well-known brands in our lives. When someone says Target or Apple or Disney – you have an image that comes to mind for that brand. It may be their primary color, such as Target’s red, or it may be their unique wordmark like Disney’s whimsical logo. These images only come to mind for you because those brands have been intentional in using those assets, among others, for literally years.
To bring this idea a little closer to home, think of yourself as a homemaker. Just as you pay close attention to the details that create a beautiful and inviting home environment, the concept of design consistency in branding mirrors this approach in the business world. Homemakers who have been at it for a while are experts at selecting the right colors, arranging décor, and ensuring every corner of their homes reflects a unified style. In a similar vein, design consistency for businesses involves carefully curating visual elements in order to establish a cohesive and inviting brand identity. Just as a well-decorated home evokes a sense of comfort and familiarity, a visually consistent brand enhances recognition, trust, and a sense of community among patrons. Both homemaking and branding rely on the power of aesthetics to communicate a message, evoke emotions, and create memorable experiences.
As a homemaker in business, much like in your multifaceted role at home, you’ll often find yourself wearing multiple hats when it comes to managing your business, especially when you are just starting out or beginning to grow. Juggling responsibilities from marketing to customer service to product development or whatever it is, you need efficient solutions to navigate these various tasks. This is where the significance of design consistency comes into play. By establishing a consistent design language that can be applied across all your brand touchpoints, from websites to social media profiles, you can streamline your brand messaging with ease. This approach not only saves time but also helps you stand out in the competitive marketplace by presenting your brand as a polished and professional player. Just as homemakers efficiently manage various household tasks with a sense of order, a consistent design language ensures that every aspect of your business aligns seamlessly, delivering a clear and compelling message to your audience.
Let’s get a little metaphorical. Think of your favorite recipe, the one you make every chance you get. Just as each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating that delicious dish, every design element you use contributes to the unique taste of your brand. No single piece is working alone. Imagine a well-designed logo, a carefully chosen color palette, and fonts that resonate with your message. When these elements are consistently sprinkled across your website, social media, marketing materials, products, and merch, they create a signature flavor that’s going to attract your ideal audience. It won’t be for everybody, and that is great. You aren’t marketing to everybody. Your business, your product, is for a specific group of people that are going to absolutely rave about you to others like themselves. This is how you create brand loyalty and repeat business.
Going back to brands that do design consistency well, take a moment to consider some of the other brands that you admire. Some of your favorites may not be these massive global brands, but rather smaller niche brands that fewer people recognize, but are huge successes in their market. Now, envision your brand nestled among these success stories. When you establish a consistent visual language, you’re not just creating eye-catching graphics that you think are pretty – you’re crafting an emotional connection with your audience. You’re crafting a story that resonates with them, reinforcing your values, and creating a lasting impression. It’s like imprinting your brand’s essence into their hearts and minds, making them feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
This is exactly what the global brands do. I believe some marketers refer to this as tribe marketing, or marketing to a tribe or something along those lines. Anyway, it involves strategically targeting people who are eager to identify with and be part of a particular tribe or community. Take gamers, vegans or sports enthusiasts for example. These global brands understand that people are drawn to a sense of belonging, and they cater their branding to create that sense of identity and community for their customers. By cultivating a brand that resonates deeply with a very specific group, they encourage loyalty and engagement. You can do this too.
Imagine walking into a restaurant (I’m apparently all about the food metaphors today) and being greeted by an impeccably courteous staff, being offered a drink while you wait for your table, an amazing aroma coming from the kitchen, and music that perfectly fits the vibe of the restaurant. This attention to detail instantly signals professionalism and care for their customers. In the same way, consistent design elements across your brand signal that same level of attention to your business. When your audience encounters your logo, color palette, and fonts in a consistent manner across various touchpoints – whether it’s your website, Instagram, or even product packaging – it conveys that you’re reliable and take your business seriously.
The opposite can be true too. If you go into another restaurant and you have to wait 5 minutes before ever being greeted by the hostess, the music is too loud, there’s something sticky on the floor, and the hostess is rude when she finally shows up – you’ll get the impression this place doesn’t care too much about their customers. One negative encounter like this could drive you away from their establishment permanently. The same can be said for your brand. If a potential client comes across you on Instagram and loves your content, they may be interested in checking out your services or products. But if they go to your website and get a 404 error code, the navigation is clunky and they can’t find anything, or it hasn’t been updated in 5 years so it doesn’t even look like they landed on the right website – they may click out and never return. This is something that happens all the time and can totally be avoided by employing design consistency. And maybe a schedule to check all your brand touchpoints regularly.
You could also think about it as building a relationship. Just like in a friendship, the more you interact and spend time with someone, the more you get to know them and increase your ability to recognize them in a crowd. The same principle applies to your brand. When your brand identity becomes familiar to your audience, they can spot you from a mile away, even in a sea of competitors. Consistency makes your brand memorable, and that can lead to customer loyalty. When customers regularly have positive experiences with your brand, they’re more likely to become repeat buyers and advocates for your business.
The key is creating a visual language that speaks to your audience, one that they can personally identify with and remember. This isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about building a relationship of trust. Your consistency in design signals that you’re here for the long haul, that you’re dedicated to delivering quality content, and that you take your brand promise seriously. And as you keep showing up reliably with that familiar look, you’re developing a bond that turns one-time buyers into loyal supporters who can’t wait to share their positive experiences with others. It’s a really cool phenomenon to behold.
Imagine walking into a bookstore with books scattered about randomly, titles written in different fonts and sizes and languages, and covers that don’t match the genre they belong to. It would be overwhelming, confusing, and nearly impossible to find what you’re looking for. Inconsistency in design works the same way – it confuses customers and gives them a bad experience.
When design elements vary across your brand, it sends mixed signals. Your audience might struggle to understand who you are, what you offer, and what you stand for. In essence, they won’t know why your brand exists. They might question your professionalism and wonder if they can trust your products or services. Just like a cluttered store shelf, an inconsistent brand can leave customers feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to focus their attention. Worse case scenario, they may think you’re a scammer!
Design is like a language. Just as clear communication requires a coherent structure and flow of ideas, a cohesive visual hierarchy is essential to “reading” design. Design elements should guide your audience’s eyes naturally and intuitively. The visual hierarchy helps your audience understand what’s most important and how to navigate your content to find what they need. This might involve using larger fonts for the most important information in a piece of content, complementary colors to highlight key details, and consistent spacing to create a sense of order.
By maintaining a clear and cohesive visual hierarchy, you’re making it easy for your audience to engage with your brand. You’re guiding them through a seamless experience where they can effortlessly absorb your message and offerings. In contrast, inconsistent design disrupts this flow, causing confusion and frustration. Your audience’s time is valuable, and they’re more likely to engage with a brand that respects that by presenting information in a clear and organized manner.
As I’ve said, consistent design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about crafting an overall enjoyable user experience. When your design elements work together, your audience can focus on what truly matters: connecting with your brand’s message, understanding your offerings, and taking appropriate action.
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of HOW to maintain design consistency in your brand. Ideally, if you are at the right stage in your business journey, you’ll invest in a professional brand identity designer and they’ll provide you with what is called a brand style guide. This document is crucially important if you are not the only person working in your business. Whether you have a part-time virtual assistant or a team of 10, having a document that contains the “rules” for using your logos, colors, fonts, photography, and other graphic elements is essential to maintaining design consistency. Some brand style guides are just a few pages with simple instructions for creating social media and website content. Others are several dozen pages long, outlining every possible brand touchpoint the business may have. Your brand is likely to fall somewhere in between.
If you aren’t at a point where you can invest in professional help and are DIYing your brand identity, you can still create a simple document that identifies your color palette, typography, and other graphic elements. Let’s quickly dive into how to create your brand identity from scratch.
By the way, this section is from a previous episode called How to Use Trends in Your Content Marketing: Part 2. If you’re interested in checking that out, it’s linked in the show notes!
To DIY your brand identity, create a simple color palette of NO MORE than 2-3 contrasting colors plus black and white. Choose 1-2 fonts that you will use consistently in ALL of your marketing, including your website. And please don’t use a Canva logo template. I say this because literally MILLIONS of people use those logos. You’ll be much better off if you make yourself a simple font-based logo that is just your business name. No icons, imagery, or illustration. Add a tagline if you want, but keep. It. Simple. Use a legible font that people can actually read. Save it in black, white, and 1 color with a transparent PNG background. Now use that logo, your color palette, and your fonts in your marketing consistently.
DO NOT DEVIATE FROM IT. It’s totally fine to use Canva social media templates for your marketing but always use your own brand identity. This is how you create design consistency.
So once you have your brand identity, how do you create a brand style guide? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create and effectively use a brand style guide:
Start by identifying your brand’s core values, mission, and target audience. These will guide the overall look and feel of your brand.
Collect your logo files, color codes, fonts, and any other visual elements you’ve been using such as patterns, graphic elements, and icons.
Include the color codes for each color in your palette. For digital use, this is is your HEX code. A 6 digit number that starts with a #. Specify when and how each color should be used. For example, which color is for headings, buttons, backgrounds, etc.
Include your font names, styles (bold, italic), sizes, and usage guidelines. Specify font pairings for headings and body text, making sure they complement each other.
Outline rules for logo placement, sizing, spacing, and backgrounds. Include versions of your logo for different backgrounds (light and dark) and platforms (horizontal, vertical).
Describe the visual style for images – filters, color tones, mood, and editing guidelines. Provide guidance on the types of images that align with your brand (e.g., lifestyle, abstract, nature).
If applicable, outline the style of graphics, icons, and illustrations you use. Provide guidelines on color usage and consistency for custom graphics.
Describe the tone of communication your brand uses – formal, casual, friendly, professional, etc. Provide examples of messaging that aligns with your brand’s voice. *I realize this isn’t technically visual design consistency, but it’s useful to have this in the same document.
If you feel like you need further guidance, you can include other specs like:
Define layout grids, margins, spacing, and alignment. Specify the look of headers, subheaders, bullet points, and other design elements.
Include visual examples of how each element should and shouldn’t be used. This helps in clear understanding. Show examples of correct AND incorrect logo usage, color combinations, and font pairings.
Provide specific guidelines for using your brand elements on different platforms, such as social media, website, print materials, etc.
Finally, you want to make a plan to update this guide overtime and share it with the right people on your team. A brand style guide isn’t static. As your brand evolves, you should be updating the guide to reflect changes.
Use the guide as a reference whenever creating new content to maintain consistency.
A well-crafted brand style guide acts as a reference point to ensure that every piece of content you create – from social media posts to marketing materials – aligns with your brand’s identity. It ensures that your brand is recognizable, professional, and cohesive across all touchpoints.
Now that you understand the power of design consistency and its impact on your brand’s growth, it’s time to assess your own brand presence. After you get done listening to this episode, take a moment to look at your website, social media profiles, marketing materials, and any other touchpoints within your business. Do they tell a consistent story? Is there a unified visual language that ties everything together?
If you find areas that need improvement, don’t worry – if you’re tired of DIYing, that’s where I come in. As a brand and website designer specializing in serving homemakers in business like you, I’m here to help you achieve that cohesive brand image you’ve been longing for. Whether you’re looking for a complete brand overhaul, a stunning website, or even a design assistant to fine-tune and maintain your brand touchpoints, I’ve got you covered.
I’d love to work together to bring your unique vision to life, create a brand that connects with your audience, and helps you stand out in this chaotic online world. If you’re interested, you can simply schedule a free 30 minute consultation call or fill out my contact form. I’ll leave the link for that in the show notes.
It is never my intention to make anyone feel pressured to invest in my services. If you decide to work with me, I want it to be a fun, empowering decision for you. This is why I offer a free consult call. You need to make sure we are a good fit for each other, and honestly, so do I. I think this testimonial from my client, Dana, sums it up perfectly:
Simply put, I’m a graphic designer that specializes in brand identity design and Showit website design - arguably the most important aspects of your business! I live in central Alabama with my high school band directing hubby, Thomas, on our modest homestead in the country.
I give away all the tips, tricks, and secrets to good branding and website practices in my monthly newsletter.
All value and no fluff here!