Branding is at the heart of everything you do and it is crucial for marketing and communication purposes. Your brand is your identity for every step of the way to success; it embodies you, your employees, aims, ethos, character, values, key messages and much more.
If you are a sole trader, responsible for your own marketing then perhaps you can almost live without brand guidelines. But as soon as you enlist the services of staff or 3rd parties, you need clear and consistent guidelines so that anyone who picks them up will also communicate to your customers the same “experience” as you yourself would deliver.
How do you create brand style guidelines?
So you’ve sat down and thought “yes, time to get my act together and sort out my brand guidelines” but all you can think of is that daunting three letter word – “How?”
You may wish to enlist the services of an agency or individuals dedicated to this subject. Particularly with the choice of colours and images, it’s an investment made at the early stages of a businesses development that pays dividends for years to come. If you happen to think good branding and design is an expensive activity, it’s also wise to consider the costs of doing it badly…
If you are on a tight budget though, you can produce your own set of guidelines. For our own purposes, we also encourage from clients, additional information that helps shape the way in which your brand is communicated.
Examples of the most basis information we encourage website owners to lay out are…
• Primary Hex
• Secondary Hex (could be 1-3 hexes)
• Web fonts
• Email Safe Font
• Banner styling
• Logo (In various formats)
• Style of web elements (eg buttons)
• Image libraries
• Persona Information
• Tag Line
• Tone of voice
• Sales Drivers (free shipping, Loyalty Rewards, cashback etc)
• Email marketing “from” address
• Sales & Customer service emails
These guidelines will not only determine the design building blocks of your brand, but also your tone of voice and the way you communicate, connect and engage with your audience.
Benefits of Brand Guidelines
Particularly within digital marketing, the places where details of your company are placed are both eclectic and also, mostly out of view from business owners. It is not hard to imagine that without clear guidance, your online brand can range from one that’s disjointed to one that’s rubbish and you wouldn’t even know about it.
Having a set of brand guidelines, if nothing else, ensures consistency. We live in a multi-channel world – A potential customer is likely to have a less refined view of your company if during the “customer journey” you offer juxtaposed experiences as they navigate through multiple channels such as your email, Facebook and website resources.
If your marketing staff or agency is having to either make autonomous decisions on things like font, colours or image to use each time they create a new blog post, banner, webpage brochure (the list goes on!), then they are immediately adding time onto the creation process. You may have saved a few hours sidestepping the development a formal brand, but you will pay for it in other ways over the long term.
Communicate key messages
Having a strong brand communicates your key messages in ways that connect with the right audience in a relevant way. You should know what encourages your customers to buy from you, and have a considered approach of how to communicate those core values to new individuals – often through the use of images and short pithy language alone. You will undoubtedly wish to take a different approach if you are appealing to CEO’s than if your target market are teenage boys.
Rewards for getting it right
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon talked of brands as “what people say about you when you are not in the room”. This is very true – We remember and talk about engaging brands to others whilst we tend to forget the rest of the marketing “noise” that we’re bombarded with. Just as in life, most people who like you will talk to you – it’s only the ones that trust you whom you will do business with.
Whether you choose to DIY or hire a branding agency, the alternative of doing nothing really is no option at all. Talk to us if you want help with your next steps and wish to put in place some of the building blocks upon which long term success is built.