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Welcome to the sixth and final post in the Summer Branding Series! Our guest blogger this week is Kate Stotish from Stotish Creative Concepts. Kate is covering maintaining brand consistency. You can find the previous posts here: Part 1: Why Do I Need A Personal Brand, Part 2: Creating An Authentic BrandPart 3: How To Know It’s Time To Change Branding, Part 4: The Brand Photo Shoot, & Part 5: Branding Beyond The Logo! Enjoy!

Over the past few weeks Nicole and friends have talked to y’all about what branding is, how to create your own authentic brand, and when it may be time to consider switching things up. Now that you’ve got all of that amazing knowledge under your belt, let’s talk consistency!

BRANDING SERIES — PART 6

In a survey of over 200 different businesses, 86% of folks reiterated how important it is that a brand be presented consistently EVERYWHERE its audience may see it. Surveys and percentages aside, though, take a minute to consider that people tend to do business with those they know, like, and trust, over others. I’m positive you’ve heard it before – someone needs to get to know you, then like you, and then trust you if you’re going to rope in that customer/client. But, how do you build that trust?

maintaining brand consistency

One of the easiest things you can do to gain the trust of your audience is to simply nail down your branding elements and then use them CONSISTENTLY in every message. By maintaining brand consistency, not only are you building brand recognition, you’re showing the world that you’re not a flip-flopper, and that you’re dedicated to your mission which, in turn, grows folks’ trust in you!

*Side Note- Since your brand should reflect you and your values, like Devin talked about in Post 1 of this series, being consistent with it also helps new audience members get to know you.

Maintaining Brand Consistency is Huge!

Yes, you get it, maintaining brand consistency is uber important! But, you’re also a small business owner and probably have 12,000 other things on your mind, and a to-do list a mile long, #amiright? Enter styled stock photos y’all! For those of you who can’t afford, or don’t know how, to do a brand photo shoot (check out Nicole’s Post #4 in the series), styled stock photos save the day!

If you have never used styled stock photos in the creation of your business graphics, you are missing out! Not only does using styled stock photos save you time in the graphics creation process, but, done right, it leaves you with professional and consistent looking graphics, sending a strong message to your potential customers and building that trust.

Stock Photos for the Win!

Whether you want to achieve a feminine look, support your business’ minimalist vibe, or you’re looking for edgy, elegant, playful, or modern images, there is sure to be a styled stock photography gallery out there for you. I’m a huge fan of the photos put out by Ivory Mix and would definitely recommend you check them out if you’re not sure where to start! You can sign up for free photos from her, but take it from me when I tell you that her VIP subscription membership is worth every single penny! Oh, and psst, Kayla (photographer extraordinaire over at Ivory Mix) also does INCREDIBLE custom stock photos… just sayin’.

Ok, moving right along… What happens when you fall in love with a series of photos but they just don’t quite fit right with your branding? Because you know how important maintaining brand consistency is, you know that regardless of where your images are posted, you want viewers to recognize your brand and/or business immediately upon seeing one of your graphics. And, using styled stock photos, or any other graphic for that matter, willy nilly and without regard to your branding is a rookie mistake.

Rather than creating graphics that are missing something, or which don’t look like they completely belong with your other marketing and brand graphics, you can transform nearly any styled stock photo to fit with your branding in a variety of simple ways! Maintaining brand consistency doesn’t have to be hard.

How to Use Stock Photos to Create Consistency

To illustrate the points below, I have created varied images all using the same stock photo, shown here in its original form. I used Canva to create all of the images shown in this post; head here to read all about why I adore Canva!

maintaining brand consistency

.01 Add your branded fonts and/or colors to the image

Along with colors, fonts are perhaps one of the most straightforward and recognizable components of a brand, making them an obvious addition to styled stock photos. By adding your set brand fonts and/or colors to an image, you are instantly connecting that image with your brand, making it anything but just another stock photo! The same goes for any patterns or objects that you’ve worked into your branding elements.

maintaining brand consistency

.02 Use filters to achieve a look consistent with your branding

Utilized correctly, image filters can change the look and feel of a stock photo dramatically! Whether you decide to make the image black and white, add a preset filter, or you ramp up the intensity of certain color tones, there are a plethora of ways to transform that stock image into something that screams YOUR BRAND! Below are two simple examples of using filters to transform an image – using a preset filter to give the photo a moodier look, and testing out an increased pink tint.

maintaining brand consistency

maintaining brand consistency

.03 Use neutral stock images as your base

If you fall in love with a styled stock image with a generally neutral tone, it’s as simple as adding a fun pop of color and branding elements with your colors and fonts. With this in mind, don’t immediately shake your head “no” when you see styled stock photos in simple white, pale tones, or grayscale!

maintaining brand consistency

.04 Overlaying Shapes

Overlaying shapes on top of stock images is, perhaps, one of my favorite techniques! I use Canva, which makes this as simple as selecting “Elements” then “Shapes” and choosing the overlay shape that I want. It’s your call whether to keep the overlay a neutral like white, black, or gray, or getting double bang for your buck by using your brand colors (like the example here). Don’t forget, you can play with the transparency of the shape to let some of your killer styled stock photo peek through!

maintaining brand consistency

.05 Zoom, Crop, or Flip the image

You may be surprised at just how different an image can look after you experiment with zooming, cropping, and flipping! While it’s clear that the below photos are pretty darn similar to the one shown at the start of this post, by cropping and zooming, or flipping, the focus of the photos changes entirely!

*Side Note- When zooming and/or cropping, be careful that you don’t zoom too much and end up with a grainy image.

maintaining brand consistency
maintaining brand consistency

Finally, never forget to add your logo or watermark to those new stunning and unique graphics!

Still worried about maintaining brand consistent? Grab my awesome Content Branding Checklist to keep you on track!

Small businesses, direct sales, and personal branding are Kate’s jam. Thriving on a no holds barred, personally tailored approach, Kate helps small business owners create a coordinated, coherent brand strategy using stunning visuals tailored to their personality, passion, and products. When she’s not at work, or creating graphics, odds are you’ll find Kate dancing in the rain with her 4 year old, binge watching Brooklyn 9-9, or crushing Sudoku! You can find
Kate over at Stotish Creative Concepts!

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