Why Visual Design Consistency Matters [And How To Achieve It]

Mar 12, 2021

In this article, we will be discussing what visual design is, why it’s important for your company to keep consistent with the set design, and how you can make sure that your company’s visual identity is a success and used as intended.

What’s Visual Design?

Visual design in a company or brand context is a key part of your brand identity. It’s the way everything you share looks and feels. It’s your logo, your colors, your fonts, and the images and videos you use. Your visual style needs to reflect the rest of your brand to avoid cognitive dissonance.

For example, Starbucks (like most brands big and small) has very detailed guidelines on how exactly their brand is going to be presented visually. Even a slight mishap in tone or a color code and the brand will feel just a little bit off. Visual design is crucial in delivering that Starbuck’s experience.


What Is the Impact of Your Visual Design?

Visual design is not just pretty pictures and slight logo variations. It has deep-rooted impact on making all stakeholders feel connected to your brand. Let’s have a look at some of the big-ticket items on the list of what visual design has an influence on.

Brand consistency

Brand consistency is a big one. As I’m sure you can imagine, the consistency of your visual design usage also impacts your brand. But did you know just how big the impact of your brand’s consistency is to the success of your company? Lucidpress did a deep dive into the topic in their ‘State of Brand Consistency’ report. Here are some highlights of what they found:

  • For organizations with brand consistency issues, the estimated average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 23%.

  • Study participants whose brands are consistently presented are 3-4 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than those with inconsistent brand presentation.

  • 95% of organizations have branding guidelines, but only 1/4th have formal guidelines that are consistently enforced.

  • Over 60% of organizations report that materials are always, often or sometimes created that don't conform to brand guidelines.

Brand trust

Okay, so brands are not sticking to the visual guidelines and like to use old logos or imagery that doesn’t fit what the brand wants to emulate. But why is that such a big deal? One of the reasons why visual design consistency will lead to an average 23% growth in revenue is partially due to brand trust.

A massive global survey found that 35% of people say “trust in brand” is one of the top three factors influencing their shopping choices. And consistency builds trust. Imagine that you’re looking for shoes online and discover a new brand. The website is sleek and modern, the shoes are well-photographed, and they seem to care about quality. These might be the shoes! Then you click over to their Instagram page, where you’re met with a pixelated logo, colors that didn’t appear anywhere on the website, and a feed full of shoe-related memes. Suddenly, you’re not so sure about these shoes.

If you don’t feel confident as a consumer that your purchase or interaction is safe or that you are going to get what you bargained for, you are far less likely to make that leap of faith that committing to a brand takes.

User experience

It’s not just your brand that can take a hit from inconsistent designs. User experience is also at risk. Let’s say you run a software company. If the visuals on your platform are all over the place and leave the user/customer confused, they won’t enjoy working with your tool.

Consistency is also about predictability, which is key to providing a seamless user experience.

How You Can Make Your Visual Design Consistent

Okay, now we know that visual design consistency should be a top priority. But if you work for a larger company where multiple stakeholders internally and externally use and manipulate your brand style, you also know that achieving consistency is harder in practice than in theory. Here are some safeguards you can put in place to set your brand up for success.

Define your design elements and make them available to all

If you haven’t already, start by defining what your design elements (pictures, logos, infographics, visuals, fonts, etc.) are and explain, with concrete examples, how and where to use them. It can also be helpful to share examples of what people should NOT do with your brand to make it extra clear.

This is where a lot of companies stop (and where it starts going wrong).

It’s common to distribute information about your brand’s visual design in a document known as Brand Guide. The problem is the way this information is shared. Storing brand guidelines on a PDF document and sharing updated versions over and over again will lead to misalignment because so many versions exist. It becomes a hassle for your colleagues to find out which file is the correct one and who's hard drive it's on.

If all your stakeholders know how to find your brand guidelines, know what they are and how they apply to their specific role, you are a lot closer to achieving visual consistency.

Specialized Brand Centers help companies improve their brand consistency by making brand guidelines cloud-based and user-friendly. They will make sure that your brand guidelines:

  1. Are easy to find by all employees and partners who promote your brand
  2. Interact with the reader and have direct uploads to your fonts, logos, etc.
  3. Are available in one place only for easy updating and to prevent duplicate files
  4. Can easily be shared with partners, distributors, and agencies

Centralized visual storage

With a Brand Center, your guidelines are easily accessible and all your font/logo files are included directly in the Center. But how about all your other assets like presentations, images, videos, banners, etc.? Many companies struggle with stretched images and poor-quality visuals that they don’t even have copyrights to use.

The challenge here is to stop your colleagues and partners from using inappropriate imagery. The best way to solve this is to enable them by sharing visuals that they can use, not try and forbid them to Google images.

If all your visual assets are stored in the same, easy-to-use Digital Asset Management solution, it will be easy to monitor how your brand is being used, which visuals are popular and what you might be missing. Bonus points for never losing a commissioned image or video file again!

Locked templates for content scalability and reducing bottlenecks

One of the reasons why so much outdated or plain wrong content is shared about your brand is the designer bottleneck. Designers and content marketers are overwhelmed with requests for new visuals. Creatives need to keep increasing their output and one of the most common issues they face is too many requests for new collateral, too little time. 

With the right tools, however, designers can create beautiful, locked templates that every employee can use to create the designs they need for everyday work like proposals or quotes, for example. Create & Publish fully integrates with Adobe’s Creative Cloud which makes working with design software a dream.

By allowing all colleagues to create their own materials in a controlled, on-brand way, you can leave challenging, technical projects to the specialists. It’s no longer necessary to turn to the designer for every little task. Enabling everyone to create materials through locked templates that require no technical knowledge not only reduces the pressure on designers, but it also makes the collateral creation process smoother and increases content output without visuals being inconsistent with your brand.

Are you interested in learning how you can leverage these tools to achieve perfect visual design consistency? Check out our bundled resources to learn more!

DAM bundle

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