On a family vacation to Seattle, Washington, I visited the Starbucks Reserve Roasterie, a museum-like hub for coffee lovers and Starbucks enthusiasts.
Although I’d never been to this location, the atmosphere felt pleasantly familiar. Starbucks, along with other industry giants, is able to reproduce a consistent and recognizeable ambiance––and it’s this consistency that brings comfort to consumers.
How do brands achieve this? And why is it crucial? The familiarity consumers glean while visiting any Starbucks around the world is not by accident. It’s branding.
Companies achieve impactful branding through design
Consistent branding will create and sustain memories customers have of and with your business. Customers are automatically recalling and contemplating purchasing something as soon as a company’s logo or name arises.
Keeping your branding consistent is one of the many challenges designers have to face as they are pushed to create new and exciting visual content that remains within the boundaries of brand familiarity.
Concepts brand designers focus on to achieve impactful branding
The relationship between a brand and its customers is no different than in-person relationships. It’s difficult to relate to someone if you can’t connect with their motives. Designers make sure to keep this in mind when pairing copy and imagery for digital ads.
Brands should be identifiable from every angle. If I had worn a blindfold into the Starbucks Reserve, I could have likely guessed where I was as soon as the aromatic coffee beans filled the air.
A great way to keep your branding consistent is through design. Building a brand style guide can help keep internal and external use of your logo and color palette standardized throughout every piece of material that goes out.
Tying in with authenticity, the next step to maintaining a relationship with a brand is to not throw in too many surprises. Imagine if your favorite burger joint decided to change their entire menu and your favorite item is no longer to be found. Sounds frustrating, right? Customers need to know they can count on you to deliver on their expectations. Designers know which pieces to keep the same, such as colors, typography, mood, and purpose, and which ones to tweak to keep consumers interested.
Learning from the big guys
Who better to learn about consistency than from some of the most successful global brands we know (and admittedly love) today? The following companies have proved and incorporated the importance of brand consistency in every aspect of their presence. They’ve mastered their branding design process across every channel, focused on digital presence to drive conversions, and kept their values clear to customers.
What words come to mind when you think of Apple? Clean, simple, innovative, and new are some that come to mine. You can easily recognize an Apple commercial or ad by a high-quality product image placed in front of a clean background, and a to-the-point phrase that’s easy, too.
Apple continues to stay ahead of the market by keeping things simple. From ads, their website, and their products, Apple’s designers continue to follow simplicity in everything they do. Pretty genius, right (pun intended)?
A company that seemed to climb to the top with hardly any struggle, Airbnb was founded by designers who had a niche for convincing people to pay money to stay in strangers’ homes globally.
When first starting, they realized and capitalized on consumer penchant for high-quality photography. By offering sharp imagery for all hosts, their revenues increased while maintaining their brand standards and expectations.
Don’t be ashamed if you’ve stumbled into a McDonalds at two in the morning looking for a dollar cheeseburger and fries; we’ve all been there.
McDonald's continues to understand consumers’ need for convenience by stepping up their digital presence. Many of their stores offer kiosk ordering options, digital drive-thru menus, and app orders and promotions, resulting in the familiar convenient experience for customers with a modern twist.
Maybe you didn’t realize, but their slogan is telling you to buy something. Should I get these new running shoes? Just do it, the shoes whisper.
One element that is repeated throughout their branding is emotion. Many of Nike’s ads don’t contain their product, but rather portray someone who “couldn’t do it” and was then able to with the help of Nike. By keeping their branding and marketing focused around athletic inspiration, they stay consistent and familiar to every customer, no matter their athletic ability.
Whether you’re a brand giant or a street-side brick and mortar, recognizable branding is essential to the success and staying power of your company.
Just as Starbucks demonstrated, branding is not just a sign on a front door with a logo and name, but rather, an experience, a relationship, and what lies between the cracks of every part of each business.
Branding is what maintains the personal connection between a business and the customer. These companies know how to speak to us just as we know how to speak back, and ask for a company we can trust and recognize. This is the reason I go back to Starbucks time and time again.
Interested in learning more about improving your company’s online presence? Take a look at these (Well-Designed!) Case Studies.