When you’re building a digital brand, visual consistency is important … just as important as it would be for a brick-and-mortar business, but it can be more difficult to sustain.

The same way you might unthinkingly claim two different social media handles for your brand, you may find you don’t have access to the same fonts when you shift between programs, or you can’t get key colors to match. How to get all the details to line up?

It requires a certain degree of expertise to nail your visual branding, which is why we recommend you always have a graphic designer on your side. If you’re just getting started, though, these four tips can get you going strongly.

Think Symbolically

Maybe you already have a company logo but you’re thinking about a rebranding, or perhaps you’re still trying to develop a brand concept. In either case, one of the best things you can do is build some associations with your firm by thinking symbolically.

What do we mean? In general, people have a broad understanding of a brand: They know the name, they recognize the logo, but they also have a set of associations … a general vibe or genre that fits with your company.

As you develop your brand, try to understand your brand associations, both as the company exists now and in terms of what you want them to become going forward. They could also push your brand to be more authentic because you can’t hide from the implications of the brand.

Foundations and Variations

If you’re building a digital brand, you want to develop a basic version of your logo and any other core images. From there, you’ll craft minor variations to use on social media and other visually condensed settings.

Most likely, you’ll create a longer header-style logo that’s published on your website and small, square versions of the logo for social media sites; because on Facebook, Twitter, and similar locations, your profile image will always be a restricted square.

Because social media amplifies your message, it’s vital to maintain the same core stylistic details that appear on your website. If you have a custom font, use it. Keep the colors the same.

If your brand is being spread around the web but isn’t recognizable across platforms, you have a problem.

Create Core Files

Whenever you’re developing a brand visual, work with the fewest possible files and format them for flexibility. For example, if you start with a large base file for a digital banner or sidebar ad, that same file can be used to print an outdoor banner for a local campaign.

A graphic designer will have a much clearer idea of how your files should be saved and manipulated to achieve the greatest versatility. But if you’re on your own, some forethought into what you want to use for your image will also help.

Keeping a hi-res version of your logo that can be inserted into a range of formats is a smart move.

Stick to the Style Guide

If your company underwent a full brand development process, you’re likely to be aware of which details went into your logo, your name, or a web ad. On the other hand, if the firm adopted a more loose construction process, it might have chosen appealing fonts and colors and merely hoped they were close enough that no one would notice any small differences.

If you’re in the latter situation, you might want to backtrack and create a style guide. Your style guide should outline all the key features of the work associated with your company.

This includes not just fonts and colors down to the HEX code, but other factors such as tone and punctuation that might involve other departments. Different employees will refer to the style guide for different pieces of information, but it should be your comprehensive guide to brand consistency.

Visual consistency is how even preliterate children recognize major brands. That’s what makes it so valuable.

You want your logo — your style — to be so instantly recognizable that a customer will know it even if he or she only glimpses out of the corner of an eye. Visual consistency makes that happen.

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