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If Nothing Else, Observe the Basic Rules of Identity

Saturday, Nov. 13th 2010

I received a brief HTML email this week from an organization I belong to. And I cringed. Not only had they omitted their extremely recognizable logo, they also changed the colors of the email such that it shared nothing with the organizational color palette. That may be seen as poor judgement and bad marketing, but the final bit was misspelling the title of the note. Far better to have not sent that email at all.

There are a couple basic rules that should be observed. Not because a marketing expert says they should, but because they work.

  1. Establish a a strong and unique visual identity.
    1. Logo — ideally insignia and logotype
    2. Color Scheme
    3. Overall style
  2. Stick to that style until that style is officially replaced. Use it in all web and print media in as strict a manner as possible.

It’s not a visual identity rule, but let’s lump it in there: spell check. Always. I know this one is going to come back to bite me because I’m guilty of it at times like everyone else, but make every effort not to screw this up. It doesn’t matter how recognizable your brand is if people think you’re not very good at what you do.

At Cold Spring, we recommend MailChimp over Constant Contact as an email marketing tool because MailChimp allows us to more easily match HTML emails to the style of a website we’ve designed. I can’t count how many email newsletters I receive where I open them up, see that they’re another basic, boring rectangle of stuff, and click delete without taking the time to read them. Am I a design snob? Yep. Not as much as a lot of other people I know, however. Regardless, it’s not my job to fight through your boring appearance to find the content that’s of value. My job is to keep my eyes open. Your job is to interest me enough to keep me engaged at least until I see what you want me to see.

You don’t have to observe all the rules with your own brand. You don’t have to establish a Pantone color palette so everything prints the same way every time. Pretty cool if you do, however — Coca Cola is PMS 484 — what are you? You don’t have to create a set of rules dictating how close any objects can be placed to your logo in web or print media. You don’t have to select (or create!) a font so that your logotype will be unique. Nice though, eh?

Your business is your business. There are some really good rules to follow and some good reasons to do it. What have I missed? What are the keys to your visual identity?

Posted by Jeff Lerman | in Branding, Color Schemes, Copywriting, Web Design | Comments Off on If Nothing Else, Observe the Basic Rules of Identity
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