Visual Consistency for Your Small Business

How do you create collateral consistency without creating collateral damage to your small business identity?
2010 Spring LuxeHow can you go from just creating a postcard to broadening your company’s visual identity?

Visual consistency extends beyond just one piece of collateral expanding across the board. Visual consistency also helps convey to your customer that she’s landing in the right place with visual cues that you’ve provided. Think of your system as a puzzle… If you give her a business card, does it relate to your Web site? If you give her a postcard, does it relate to your business card or line sheet?

In this entry, I’m going to outline how I’ve applied elements of design to make my ID system consistent throughout my collateral -both print and Web. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to review your materials once again.

Visual Transition
While we’ve been making a slow transition from CalligraphyPets® to ECStewart Collections (more on that later), we’ve had to also apply a new formula to our collateral while keeping it consistent as well as relating to some of our historical visual cues. Here is where I’ll show you where we made the transition.

As we were designing, developing, and building our new Paisley leathergoods as wearable art, we knew we needed:

  • A line sheet for each product,
  • A separate lookbook to include all the Paisley Products,
  • Postcards, and
  • New Business Cards

Where I Started: My postcard
Below are a few of my postcards from the past few years for licensing shows. While the mini-mast head moves around the rectangular composition, the logo and title remain pretty much the same. I also made sure to include highlights of my contact info on the front (Web site, email, & phone)  in the event art directors want to pin my postcard to their corkboards.

ECStewart - 2009 LUXE

ECStewart 2008 LUXE

ECStewart Spring 2008 LUXE

Having your name and contact info on the front also begins to form an mnemonic association for your customer. When the postcard is pinned to the corkboard along with many others, art directors and customers don’t have to worry about turning it over to get my information. Rest assured, comprehensive info is also on the back, but sometimes, art directors or galleries want something more immediate. Make it easy for them.

2009 Product Postcard
One can see the mini-mast in a different location and the logo + title remain the same.
2009 LUXEGifts

2010 Product Postcard
As one can see, I used the same formulaic template for my current postcard. I also included the new paisley design in the background of the Central Park Hobo to show the relationship between fine art and wearable art. Clever, eh?
2010 Spring Luxe

The 2010 Lookbook
One can see how the lookbook cover relates strongly with the postcard…

2010 Lookbook Cover + 2010 Postcard

Lookbook & Postcard

…and with the interior design of the lookbook itself.

2010 Lookbook Cover + Interior

Lookbook Cover & Interior

Later, I will talk more about why I separated my Paisley Wearable art into its own lookbook from the rest of my fine art.
Business Card
Our business cards became quickly outdated due to closing our post office box last year. We also wanted to unify our new business card with the collateral we were building that included the postcard and lookbook.

2010 Business Cards

My street addy included on the front but concealed it for this demonstration.

Eventually, we will convert the paisley illustration with a debossed luxury paper. This full printed option is just a short term solution, albeit a consistent one.

Let me just iterate: The business card is thee most difficult piece to design.

Business Card & Postcard
Again, the consistency relates from the business card to the postcard when the customer receives either on separate occasions.

2010 Business Card + 2010 Postcard

Business Card & Postcard

Web Site
Finally, we applied elements found on our print collateral to the home page of the In this case, if my customer picks up only a business card, she will be certain that she has arrived on the correct Web site to purchase my products. The same is true for any other printed piece she may come across.

2010 ECStewart Web Site

ECStewart Web site

Facebook Fan Page
Even our fan page has strong visual cues…

ECStewart Facebook Avatar

Your Visual System
How consistent is your collateral? Does each puzzle piece of your small business collateral complete the full visual composition? Can you find the same elements on both printed as well as your online presence?

If you’re looking to develop your unique and consistent style, please contact Lisa for a collateral audit or a comprehensive design project.

If you like this article and would like to read similar articles, I invite you to INDIECreatives –a site I’ve created just for fine artists and gallery owners– other creatives may also find it useful.

Article Topics include:
Marketing & Social Media for the Fine Artist
Web Presence
Setting Up Your Web Site Using WordPress (a blogging platform).
Branding and more.

Hope to see you there!

Live Creatively,

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9 thoughts on “Visual Consistency for Your Small Business

  1. Jeanne Rhea says:

    This is a great post. I wish I could get my act together and get everything so coordinated. Trouble is, I would probably end up changing whatever I was working with and ruin the whole plan! I admire your ability to focus!


  2. Luranah says:

    I enjoyed this article and your examples. I am trying to build a new business, and know that visual consistency is important. Your suggestion about keeping a “masthead” the same, but moving it around so it keeps consistency but allows for many options in print products.


  3. Luranah says:

    Excuse me. I meant to say: “Your suggestion about keeping a ‘masthead’ the same, but moving it around so it keeps consistency but allows for many options in print products is an excellent idea.”


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