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How to Maintain Branding Consistency Online and Offline

In today's digital world, every business is expected to have an online presence – even those that do most of their business offline.

Building a brand online requires a considerable time investment, and it typically starts with the creation of a website. Still, today’s consumers expect to be able to find brands online. In fact, 87% of shoppers start their product searches online.

For brands that do most of their business offline – like dentists, real estate agents and brick-and-mortar shops – maintaining a consistent online and offline presence can be a challenge. To build a strong brand, it’s important to maintain consistency across all digital and offline channels.

Here’s how:

Website Design and Headquarter Signage Should be Consistent

Whether a customer is visiting your website or your office headquarters, they should be able to recognize your brand immediately.

One way to achieve this is to ensure that your website design and headquarter signage are in sync. Installing professionally designed and fabricated business signs that match your website logo will help you maintain consistency in branding both online and offline.

If your brand’s headquarter signage uses a different font or layout from your website logo, it can create confusion among customers or clients.

The goal is to make sure that branding is consistent across all digital platforms and offline channels. Signage and website design are two great areas to start, as these are the two places customers are likely to get their first impressions of your brand.

Consider some of the top brands in the world. The Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, for example, has its iconic logo above the door. The exterior sign uses the same bold, thick font that you see across all signs for the brand. But their online website follows this style by incorporating its circular logo and the same chunky font across all content.

Maintain One Brand Voice Across All Platforms and Channels

It's important to develop a brand voice as part of the branding process. Ideally, your brand voice should be authentic, but it should also be deliberate.

Your brand’s online voice should match its offline voice. If you have a blog (and you should), use the same language and tone. It’s okay to be casual. In fact, your posts will sound more natural if you write the way you speak.

Make sure that your content is tailored to the platform, but doesn’t compromise on your message, style and tone.

A brand’s voice should be consistent across all platforms, including your website, social media accounts, advertising (online and offline), packaging, and even email communications. While you may make some adjustments to suit the platform’s audience, it’s important not to alter your language or voice too much.

The key most important thing is to make sure that customers are not experiencing a different brand language or persona on each platform. Marketing success is often achieved through omni-channel campaigns that are seamless across all channels.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your website, a billboard, a magazine ad or a social media post; the message, language and tone will need to be consistent. Let's say that a customer sees your ad in a magazine, and visits your website. If there are inconsistencies in your message, the customer may not trust your brand and move on to a more reliable competitor.

Treat your brand like a person with its own personality and tone. Develop that personality and tone, and make sure that it’s consistent in all forms of marketing and communication. It may sound trivial, but language and tone consistency will play a big role in developing customer trust and converting leads into customers.

Let’s say that your website design and tone is straightforward, but your billboard ads are playful. This split in personality may make your brand untrustworthy in the eyes of the consumer, and it can also generate confusion.

Make Sure Logo, Imagery, Colors and Fonts are Aligned

Color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%, according to a study from the University of Loyola.

Your brand’s logo is more than just a pretty symbol placed on your packaging; it’s a symbol that helps consumers recognize your brand and product subconsciously. Logos transcend language and cultural barriers. That's why your logo should be consistent across all channels and platforms, whether it’s your website, print materials or brochures.

But a logo is just one piece of the branding puzzle. Your brand standards guide should include guidelines for logo usage, including your color palette and fonts.

Color continuity is important when branding online and offline. Any deviation from your palette or imagery standards can create confusion among consumers, or even lead to a complete lack of recognition. Any inconsistency in your logo usage, colors, images and fonts can create a gap in your brand’s story.

Make sure that your use of colors, imagery and fonts is consistent both online and offline. This includes your social media accounts and posts.

Let’s use Starbucks as an example again. If you take a look at the brand’s Twitter account and Instagram account, you can see consistency between both accounts. The brand uses their logo as their profile picture, and the content has similar themes with consistent imagery. Anyone who visited either of these accounts would know immediately that they belonged to Starbucks – there would be no confusion. And that’s the result of good, consistent branding efforts across all digital and offline channels.

If You Must Make Changes, Do It Gradually and With Warning

Some of the biggest brands in the world have made the decision to rebrand at one point or another. Sometimes, the changes are subtle. Other times, the branding gets a complete overhaul.

But even a slight change in your logo, font or colors can throw customers off. That’s why it’s important to implement changes gradually and to alert your customers about the changes. Many major brands do a refresh every so many years to keep their brand from looking outdated. And in most cases, the changes are subtle yet noticeable enough for consumers to see that something has changed.

Don't blindside your loyal customers – keep them in the loop. Discuss your plans. Ask them for feedback. Implement changes slowly, and give customers time to adjust to the changes.

While it’s perfectly acceptable to rebrand, try not to introduce a completely different logo. With subtle changes, customers will still be able to recognize your brand. They just know that your logo looks a little different. But a major overhaul of your branding may create confusion or even outrage among consumers.

Update your look, but don’t go too crazy with rebranding. Otherwise, you may undo all of the hard work that you put into building your brand over the years.

Make sure that you’re consistent with your changes. If you create a new logo for your brand, start using it across all platforms. New imagery is great, but make sure that you maintain your brand voice and message. You may change your look from time to time, but you’re still the same person with the same personality. The same should be true for your brand. Although you may update or refresh your imagery, your brand’s message, values, language and tone (i.e. your brand’s personality) remains the same.

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