5 Thoughts on Brand Expression

Photo by Tim Mossholder

Whatever direction a brand takes, its consistent expression remains essential. But for all the moving parts, it’s easy for things to slide. Here are some tactical ideas that can help any company/product/persona stay consistent.

1 — Be terse. Use fewer words in your copy. Condensing your copy will amplify your message. It takes time and effort but works. Just don’t sacrifice coherence. More words don’t lead to clarity, only readers tuning out. Assume your readers are intelligent, write conversationally, and consider leaving space for interpretation (more on this in a future post). Being terse will have your team thinking more selectively about the words they write.

2 — Mind the typography and stay consistent. It’s very common that companies have no idea that this is even a thing. Pitch decks, PDFs, websites — everything should use consistent typography. Many people think differences in typefaces make no difference. And they would be wrong. The irony is that while many people can’t tell the difference between typefaces when asked, they remain affected by the differences. Humans are tuned into the tiniest changes in the environment, often subconsciously. If you’re limited where you can use a certain typeface, consider your fallback fonts carefully. Consistent typography is consistent brand expression.

3 — Limit the use of color. The more color you have, the less colorful a design becomes. Be selective, use a method/theory, and always have a rationale for using a certain color. Proper use of less color actually makes the work appear more colorful. It is said that color is the most identifiable aspect for most brands. Similar to terse copy, terse color also focuses the effort. Limiting color limits variability.

4 — Don’t use stock photography that looks like stock photography. When in doubt, ask yourself if you could caption the photo to fit in with what you need to communicate. Avoid “girl smiling while eating salad” unless you want viewers to tune out. Obvious stock imagery is the visual equivalent of mumbling. It always leads to readers assuming quite correctly that you are not speaking to them. Nothing smears brand expression like bad stock imagery.

5 — Never copy other brands, especially in your own industry. Your strategy should be to stand out so people look your way. And your brand needs to be different to stand out in the market. Copying others only causes confusion and ultimately reduces your visibility (more to come on this topic). Copying others is a terrible idea. The takeaway here is that you need to build your own brand, not your competitor’s.

Glyphic is a brand strategy consultancy serving publishing, LMA (Libraries, Museums, and Archives), and adjacent markets.

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