June 8, 2021
When you work with a team or designer to create your business’s new branding, you’ll likely hear that “Consistency is key.” Designers are ALL about consistency — it is, after all, how you build a recognizable brand that builds trust every time it produces content, products, or ideas.
However… we’re going to throw this design declaration out the window for a minute. Why? Because there are a few times where it pays to break the mold and depart from your fine-tuned brand style. Keep reading to see when we believe brand consistency doesn’t matter.
The sheer volume of Pins that need to be created makes designing for Pinterest a bear of a task. If you’re sticking to strict brand standards, you’re massively limiting your Pin styles, which is why we say it’s okay to break from the brand a bit. On Pinterest, you can employ different template types and different designs or shapes that you would normally employ in order to build up your content. This way, you can share the same content again and again, simply with a unique Pinterest thumbnail image.
This is also a platform that’s ideal for testing the waters and seeing what converts best — because what works on Pinterest isn’t necessarily what we’d normally do on other platforms. For example, colorful pins usually perform best for our clients, even with a client whose main palette is black and white.
Another note is that lifestyle imagery and images without faces usually perform best. Our coaching client with allllllll those headshots? We use a styled stock subscription for her Pins, instead of her library of styled, branded photos.
Sometimes, even less polished Pins convert better because they look less like ads. This is great for those of you who aren’t photographers, because it means you can use that unedited photo you took of your desk as a Pin!
If you’re partnering with another brand for a product launch or event, you may need to loosen the reins on your brand a bit in order to find a middle ground with your partner’s visual brand. You may also need to concede on branding if you’re partnering for a joint venture, or hosting a presentation/talk at a highly branded event.
Of course, there are still ways to blend the best of both worlds, whether it’s using your logo or brand name wherever possible, or adapting templates a bit. But it’s important to follow your partner’s brand requests to make the most cohesive experience for their audience. You can build your trust with that audience once the connection has been made.
Celebrating your business anniversary, highlighting Black business owners for Black History Month, doing a special Lunar New Year content series — these are all reasons to have a little FUN in your brand and to introduce new colors, fonts, patterns, and more.
Attracting new leads or re-engaging cold audiences can be tough. It can be even more tough when you’re noticing that your leads or niche are changing. Have you been a coach for women and are noticing that more men are inquiring about your services now? Were you a corporate marketing consultant who’s now trying to break into the creative entrepreneur field?
There are always reasons you’ll want to expand what your brand can do without having to fully rebrand. When it comes to engaging these new leads or niches, it actually presents an awesome opportunity to try on new styles that are more geared to new audiences. For example, you may consider tweaking your colors to be less feminine, or find layouts that are more whimsical.
Whatever it is, remember that you don’t want to abandon your brand completely. You’ll still want to look similar enough to your brand that when people click from an ad to your website that you still have their trust and haven’t provided a totally jarring experience.
Posting your first TikTok video?? Starting a YouTube channel? Different platforms might require you to change up your visual brand to allow your content to perform well on the platform. For instance, your really clean and soft brand might need to get bolder and bigger for YouTube, where video thumbnails are outshining the video titles and constantly competing for attention. The same goes for TikTok, where you want to have the most eye-catching cover shot for your video, and where brands aren’t as prevalent in the visuals.
Trying to get your audience to go vote? Want to share about a charitable cause that’s important to your business? While we’d argue that anything can be turned into branded content, some things are more important than your brand consistency — and aren’t really worth the time it takes to make something “on brand.”
We’ve seen people sharing Black Lives Matter posts, Stop AAPI Hate posts, and even nonprofit share graphics in their feed or in their other content. It doesn’t necessarily look the visual part, but it upholds the wider brand. You want people to know what you stand for and what they can expect from you, and that’s just as much a part of your brand as the visuals.
As a general rule of thumb, it helps to think of your brand as a “rule” when you own or house the content on your platforms. Things like your website, your opt-ins or offers, your social media, etc. When it’s housed on platforms that play by their own rules, it’s best to have a bit more flexibility.
If you’re ever in doubt, ask yourself: “Could I be more successful on this platform/with this initiative if I expanded my brand a bit?” If the answer is yes, play around! See what works. If you find that you’re gravitating more toward that expanded brand, it might be time to update your overall branding to reflect the new direction or audience you’re reaching. If it’s just working for a time or single event, though, it’s OK to stretch your brand “rules” temporarily.
Want to hear other ways we go against the design grain? Check out the Design Lab YouTube channel, where we talk about things like why logos don’t matter that much.