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Perspectives on Branding and Identity from Franke+Fiorella
Issue No.36

5 Steps to Maintaining a Consistent Brand and Visual Identity System

As anyone who has ever launched a new brand knows, there’s a lot of time, energy, planning and soul that goes into creating the final product. Then, you launch it and watch it soar (you hope). But, what then? How do you keep it alive over time and prevent people from reinventing it, modifying it and misusing it?

The answer, in one word, is control. In our personal lives being controlling isn’t always good. But when it comes to managing your brand and visual identity system, this isn’t the place to practice “letting go.”

Over the years we’ve identified five things our clients need to do to ensure they maintain a consistent brand and visual identity over time:

1. Develop Identity Standards. We touched on the importance of identity standards in the last issue, but this is perhaps the most important and useful tool for controlling how the various components of your identity are used. Web-based standards enable users around the world to have access to the most recent information at any hour of the day. The more decentralized the organization, the more detailed the standards. But remember to make them informative, engaging, and easy to navigate and understand. They shouldn’t read like the instructions for programming your new television remote control. You want people to use them, not avoid them.

2. Educate. Everyone. Education around brand and identity isn’t just for those creating communications and your external agency partners. It’s for your management team, sales reps and new hires, too. Why? Because as we’ve seen with a number of our clients, identity standards aren’t enough. Our clients frequently ask us to help them communicate the importance of using the identity standards to their internal team members through a series of training sessions. Most people don’t misuse identities intentionally, it’s because they don’t understand the importance of consistency and what they should and shouldn’t do. So, make everyone’s life easier (including yours) and open the lines of communication.

3. Create Inspiring Reference Tools. An extension of the education process is to give people inspiring tools such as easy-to-use reference guides that continually reinforce the identity standards, what the core components of the identity system are, and where people can go to get more information.

4. Showcase Best Practices. Everyone likes to see their work honored and praised. Give people in your organization an opportunity to shine by creating a “place,” live or cyber, that highlights great examples of how others are bringing the brand to life. Celebrate your successes!

5. Behavior matters, too. In repositioning a brand and revitalizing the visual identity system, you need to set expectations around behavior as well. We have helped a number of our clients identify behaviors that are “on-brand.” When you’re successful in generating excitement and enthusiasm for the brand and visual identity system, this is the next logical step. After all, building strong brands builds strong companies, and everyone wants to be part of creating a winning organization.

Giving everyone in your organization the tools to succeed, encouraging ongoing, open communications and celebrating your successes along the way is the key to creating a strong brand from the inside out.

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