A consistent visual brand identity has a massive influence on whether audiences or industry decision makers take you seriously. We can kick our little heels and lament this truth but that's just wasting time and brain space. Let's work on the things you can control.
How you present your brand really does matter.
We all do it. We make snap decisions based on what we find when we go to a theatre company's website or social media profiles. If the website is poorly designed or outdated, or their social media is uninspiring, we subconsciously judge their credibility. Editors do it when they look at the dinky little press release we send them and put us in the 'no' pile.
Over the years, I have changed audience perception of theatre companies and artists purely through changing their visual brand identity (what they look like online). I've found that once I removed the barrier of poor visual presentation, audiences and industry decision makers started to take more notice. It's not everything but it's a huge and positive start and relatively simple to implement.
Part of branding is removing barriers. You can take a few simple steps to create a professional image that removes the things that were masking your creativity from the world. Isn't that what you want? People to see the art; just the art? Good, simple visual brand design allows you to do that. It's about creating a visual brand that supports your art rather than overpowering it for the wrong reasons. So, where do we begin?
Use the right tools
Create a canva.com account. This isn't a paid promo btw. I have used canva for years because it is the graphic design platform for marketers. It has saved me thousands of hours, is simple to use, cost effective and makes everything I create look amazing. If you can, get the Pro version for the extra options it offers. I could not work without it.
I can create gifs, print-ready documents, remove the backgrounds of photos, create videos for social media, animated posts, all my social media content in the right sizes and formats, branded overlays for videos and organise every brand I work with for easy workflow when I'm working late on a Friday night.
Build your visual identity
In your Canva account, create a simple brand style guide; and I mean SIMPLE. You don't need a 54 page document you'll never read. You just need to record your choices of how you will consistently present your visual brand (colours, fonts and logo). Without this guide you will find it difficult to maintain a consistent visual identity or delegate marketing tasks to others.
Choose a font. I would recommend something simple, clear and easy to read. You can use it in variations, for example in BOLD for headings. You want a font that translates easily on the web, and one that can be read clearly on social media. Remember that 70% of your posts are read on a phone. Tiny screens are not the friend of overly fancy fonts.
You will need a colour palette to represent your theatre company or creative brand. Choose your base colour, an accent colour and a neutral colour. Brand colour schemes can have between one and four colours but even monochrome schemes will require some variation in hues for different purposes.
Here's where things can get bogged down. Understand that your logo is NOT your brand. It's the visual identity mark of your brand. It's how people quickly recognise that it's you. I've seen theatre companies go into battle over logos. Think of the apple of Apple Computers. You see the apple and you instantly know who it represents but apples have nothing to do with the company. It's how you consistently use the logo that matters.
You will need a light and a dark version of your logo (PNG files with a transparent background). You can also go with the common lettered logo; your theatre company's name in a simple font.
Create folders everywhere you go. In canva, dropbox, google drive. When you sort marketing material and content as you go, you'll save yourself time. Keep things in the cloud so you can access them anywhere and on any device.
It's all about consistency
Make sure your brand identity includes print materials, your EPK (Electronic Press Kit), proposals, ticketing platforms, website, all social media, absolutely everything your audience comes in contact with. This builds brand recognition and confidence in the minds of patrons. I've used this simple process over and over again with all sorts of projects with consistent success.