Written by CJ McGillivray
Words have different meanings for designers, business leaders and managers. When a digital marketing manager tells their social media manager or graphic designer that the company is moving in a more radical direction, that can mean a lot of different things. How radical are we talking here? A splash of pink or taking down the establishment? Content creators often love pushing the envelope with a funky font, playful tagline or provocative image. But how do you do this without losing the essence of your brand identity and confusing your audience? Through conscious effort and research, we can aspire for an ideal balance between marketing innovation and brand consistency.
The Value of Consistency
When we are consistent with our visual choices and copywriting tone, we give our audience a sense of familiarity and comfort. We remind them how reliable and stable our brand is. This does not mean playing it safe or being boring. We can still take risks and come up with exciting, unpredictable digital content. There is a measurable difference between playing it safe and being conscious of risk management in marketing and digital design. When a design calls for innovation and experimentation, consider the number of ways that you choose to experiment. Are you playing with the colour palette? Introducing a new font? Trying out more casual language for a social media post? Any of these elements can be effective individually, but if you do them all at once then you will quickly stray from the characteristics that make a brand recognizable and familiar.
Randomness also plays an interesting role in our search for balance. A splash of randomness can add a dynamic element to marketing efforts, but too much randomness becomes unintentional and ineffective. Focus instead on mindful creative choices fuelled by intention and thorough research. Remember that there are many types of creative intelligence in the world of digital design and marketing and your particular innovations will be unique to you.
Language and Tone
When it comes to word choice and effective copywriting, how do you maintain consistency without getting bored? Consider the following questions:
- How formal or informal does the brand aspire to be?
- How youthful or mature is the brand voice?
- Who is your typical audience?
- Does the copywriting language usually include any regional slang or business jargon?
- What kind of personality comes to mind based on the tone and word choice of the previous messaging?
- How do the words sound when you say them out loud?
Visuals and Colour
One foundational concept you will learn in pretty much any UX design course or digital marketing certificate program is that images speak louder than words. Visual branding and creativity have a major effect on the success of a digital marketing campaign or design. Consider the following questions to help you stay inspired but consistent:
- What is the general brand aesthetic or vibe?
- Does the brand lean towards more lifestyle, photographic visuals or more illustrative, infographic visuals?
- What are the commonly used fonts and colours?
- Are there brand guidelines that you should reference?
- How naturalistic or poised are the images?
- How angular and geometric are the graphic designs?
- What is the style and characteristic of the company logo?
Want to be innovative with colour but respect the brand guidelines? Try using a colour palette generator such as Coolors and input the colours that are foundational for your brand. Be sure to add in the hex codes for whichever shades are prominently featured on your logo and the homepage of the company website, along with any secondary or tertiary colours listed in the brand guidelines. Once added, you can press lock for those colour codes and hit the space bar to generate one or two complementary suggestions that will work perfectly with your current brand guidelines. Whether you select a warm tone or a pop of something cool, the recommendations should naturally match the hues, saturation and vibrancy of your brand colours.
Marketing managers and clients are often looking for something exciting and different, but good content should never go so far off the rails that it negatively impacts branding and consistency. Be diligent and research everything you can about the brand you are creating content for. Prioritize your continuing education by reading blogs, listening to podcasts, or signing up for a digital marketing or ux design course online. Remember that the more you build your knowledge and skills, the more effectively you can innovate with intentionality and effectiveness.