Have you ever lost your car keys and retraced your steps to find them? Or walked into a room and instantly forgot why you’re there in the first place, so you have to go back to where you were before to remember?
This happens because we tend to forget things when we’re removed from the original context — it’s called context-dependent memory. But this is not a psychology lesson, so I’ll get right to the point about why it’s so important for your online marketing: consistency in your visuals and messaging helps put you back in context so people are more likely to remember you.
Say somebody sees an attractive graphic you’ve created for Pinterest, they click on it and land on your website. The visuals there are exactly as they’d expect — the colors, graphic style and tone match what they saw on Pinterest! Cool. Then you wow them with your smarts and they want to hear more from you, so they sign up for your mailing list. Two weeks later you email them a simple text email about something totally unrelated to that blog post and …. well, you know what happens next: “Huh? Who is this?” *unsubscribe*
A visual cue — colors, logo, a banner that matches your website — would have helped them recall that you’re that smarty-pants they found a couple of weeks ago, then they’re more likely to keep reading.
If you’re running a retargeting campaign, real money is on the line, so you want to make sure people don’t have that “Huh?” moment and ignore your message. Say you boost a Facebook post to drive traffic to your blog, then run ads to all of those visitors. If they liked the blog post — by using pictures, graphics, colors and other visual cues they’ll recognize from it, they’ll be more likely to read your offer.
Create visual consistency by using a brand guide
I’m a huge believer in branding guidelines, as a designer I work with them a lot — most especially when I’m designing something for a larger organization. If they’re working with lots of employees and contract designers, they want to make sure that their logo, fonts, imagery, and messaging are consistent no matter who is producing it.
If you’re not working with a designer, you can certainly create your own brand guidelines and I’ll tell ya — it makes your life a lot easier even if you’re creating all of your content and graphics on your own. And as your business grows, who knows? Maybe you’ll need to outsource some of your design tasks. They take a little time to set up, but you’ll save tons of time in the long run, and any designer you may hire in the future will work with your rules to keep things consistent.
A brand guideline includes such things as:
- How your logo should be used (and how it should not)
- Your color palette
- Your brand fonts and how they should be used (headlines, body copy, callouts, etc.)
- Patterns, textures, icons, photography graphic styles
- Brand voice/messaging — the phrases you use, the tone, and personality of your message
- Rules for creating social media sharing graphics
Deciding on style guidelines for your graphics doesn’t mean they all have to look the same, or that you can never be creative ever again. It just means you’re working within a set of rules. This will not only help you create visuals for your business much faster (no “recreating the wheel” and trying to come up with a new concept each time), but the visuals you do create will help your audience remember who you are no matter where and when they see you.
Do you have a brand guidebook for your business? If so, I’d love to hear how it’s worked for you. Hit me up in comments below!