The most important factor in your brand + design strategy that you just can't ignore!
What is it that makes a business successful when it comes to their brand? Why does their website and online presence stand out head and shoulders above the rest? Why do we notice them more than others?
cohereing or tending to cohere; well-integrated; unified.
It's because everything they do in terms of their design, voice and essence is unified. Their brand identity is integrated into every aspect of their online presence – from their website to their social media design, their logo and right down to the use of those little icons. Everything – absolutely everything – reflects the core values of their business.
The effect of cohesiveness in branding and design is subtle – and it's meant to be. Having a cohesive brand for your website design means that visitors to your site will:
connect with you a lot quicker if they can instantly grasp what you and your business are about.
feel confident that you are genuine and trustworthy (which is essential in a saturated online world).
want to sign-up to your newsletter and connect with you on social media, because your business resonates with them.
be more likely to remember you!
How can I make my branding + design cohesive?
By identifying with the core values of your business, you will be able to ensure that your efforts are authentic. Authenticity is at the heart of cohesiveness, and means that your branding + design will make an impact!
Discovering your Core Values
One of my favourite exercises to do when I work with a new client is to get creative! We create a 'keyword cloud' – which is a selection of three, resonant keywords that our business identity aligns to. These are the words that your brand identity represents because they use an emotional quality that makes it easier for your ideal clients + customers to connect with.
For example, my keyword cloud is 'Compassionate, Intelligent, Evolutionary'. These words reflect the heart of who I am, and the value of what I do. It helps my clients to profile me, to understand me – to connect with me.
Choosing your keywords
Give yourself 10 minutes to brainstorm. Set your timer, and write down every keyword that springs to mind as you consider your business. What you do and who you are. How clients and customers feel (or would feel) after working with you or buying from you.
Trust whatever words spring up – your subconscious is smarter than you think!
Once the 10 minutes is up, you’ll start crossing off the words that don’t resonate strongly with you. You want to keep doing this until you have just 3 keywords left. Once you’ve done this, you’ve now hit the ‘core’ keywords of your business identity. You’ll use this as a guidelines for all future choices when it comes to brand decisions – if they don’t match with your keyword cloud, then your branding lacks consistency and cohesive impact.
Putting the words into action
Now that you've defined a set of values for your business, you'll be able to start making strategic creative decisions about any and every element of your brand, for example:
Choosing the colour palette for your website, social media profiles, stationery, ebooks, PDFs etc. Using the colour wheel to align your values with colour and their corresponding emotions makes your brand cohesive – so your website, facebook profile or opt-in offer all convey the same message!
Choosing fonts to use across every form of media. Believe it or not, fonts have personality! They can impart an emotional quality just as much as the use of colour can – which is why typography has now become an art form.
Using patterns and textures in your design. Perhaps you're a creative life coach who offers art courses and ejournaling as a means of therapy – so using paper textures and paint splashes in your design would make perfect sense – people would know what you're about simply by looking (and feeling) your design. Maybe you're an indie fashion designer with a focus on tribal designs – so using an abstract ethnic pattern in earthy colours in your design would instantly allow visitors to connect with you. To get what you're all about.
By now you will be able to see the value and impact that a cohesive brand has – and how important it is to make sure that your brand and design efforts align with your core values in business. When your brand is cohesive, it takes that first step in establishing a relationship with your website visitor, your Facebook fan, your YouTube subscriber. These relationships are what true success is all about in business. Solid relationships turn into clients and customers, and in turn, become your word-of-mouth referral network!