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April 2007 e-gram

Consistency of Branding

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” However, consistency in graphic design is hardly foolish; in fact, it’s downright wise. The number of media and platforms used for marketing, advertising and promotion has been increasing exponentially. There’s print (static and variable), Web, e-mail, outdoor, POS/POP, video, mobile…the list goes on. As a result, the role of the ad agency and design firm/department has been changing, focusing less on nuts-and-bolts production and more on being the “media hub” that strategizes a multi-channel marketing approach and outsources production where needed.

Getting all the individual pieces of a multimedia campaign in sync can be a challenge, but the alternative can be inconsistent or conflicting messages, blunting the overall effect of the campaign.

Some places where consistency might become compromised include:

Text and graphics. Ensure that copy—and especially a slogan—is used consistently from medium to medium. If a slogan appears on a direct mail piece, it should also appear in an e-mail promotion, on the Web site, on display graphics, and so on. Be sure the wording of important text, such as a slogan, is the same from medium to medium.

Fonts and other design elements. A common “stealth branding” technique is the use of fonts and other design elements. Say your postcard mailing uses 18-pt. Franklin Gothic Bold for a headline, printed in white text on a red background, while the body text is 12-pt. Garamond Regular printed in black on a white background. You should do your best to ensure that those fonts and color schemes are replicated in other media (given the color management limitations of electronic media).

Logos. Use logos and corporate colors consistently in all media. This is not to say that all the media components should be carbon copies of each other. Each medium has its own design dynamics, but the goal is to standardize the message while at the same time taking advantage of each medium’s strengths.

A key component of marketing, after all, is to build and reinforce a brand. The key to effective branding is to develop a “united front” in all the media used to promote that brand so that, regardless of the medium, the same message—both textually and visually—is being conveyed. We think Emerson would agree.