Have you ever watched a commercial or seen an advert and you know who the ad is for before the name of the company is ever mentioned? That’s good brand consistency coming into play.
You’ve established your brand and focused on branding in the creative field but now you need to keep your well-honed branding on point.
With many startups and small businesses, maintaining brand consistency can be easier when only one or two people are touching the company assets. As the team expands, it gets trickier to define the brand for new team members. Your brand needs clear guidelines and a path to consistency.
Here’s our roadmap to ensuring your hard work in establishing your brand carries through to a consistent brand message.
Create a Style Guide
You created your visual corporate identity and decided on your brand voice when you built your brand. Set the standards for your brand identity with a style guide. A style guide ensures a consistent brand identity is being executed properly across platforms.
The style guide is the ultimate description of your brand. It takes what you decided in your corporate identity and puts into on paper – in the most granular terms. The style guide includes how your logos can be used, how much white space needs to surround them (known as the lock space), an outline of the brand colour palette (hex, Pantone number, RGB), the brand typography, the icon style, the brand voice, and more.
Though, it’s not simply laying out what these items are but how they will be used. Will digital differ from print? How will you utilise each aspect on different platforms? Think of questions your team members will have when completing everyday tasks and include the answers to them in the style guide.
Setting your style guide and brand guidelines from the beginning helps every team member have a clear understanding of the brand.
Hold a Team Meeting
Now that you’ve cemented the style guide, it’s time to talk it all through with the team.
Consistent branding is not only about ensuring everyone has the same resources available but is, more importantly, about everyone understanding the core company mission. Not just knowing it, but truly grasping what the brand is about. Having an entire company meeting to discuss the fundamentals, the dos and don’ts and what the higher vision and goals are sets everyone to “see” the same way. This bleeds into the work output.
A company meeting also allows for feedback from the team and is a time to clear up any confusion. Moving forward as one with shared insights into the mission and branding makes the continuity of the brand that much easier.
Design Branded Templates
The style guide has laid out how to use the brand, and the team meeting eased any confusion setting the team standards for how to move forward.
Branded templates are the perfect solution to put those elements into play.
Templates help no matter the team size. Even if you only have current team members – you will have new ones at some point – the branded templates help speed up processes and ensure everyone is, literally, on the same page.
There are going to be documents your team uses over and over again, for example, proposals, client presentations, and reports. Having templates for these most-used documents confirms your brand is presented how you want it to be. And speeds up the process!
Also, templates help eliminate human error – we’ve all been in a rush and not remembered to change the font to the correct one. Create templates with the company logo placed properly (wherever you’ve decided – header or footer), page numbers, the right fonts built into it, cover pages, colours, etc.
For these templates, you can build graphics as well. Like the templates themselves, think what goes inside these documents. Do you use the same kind of graph usually? Have the same icons for your services? Have these items in a folder for easy drag and drop.
Templates often make people think of documents and print materials, like templates for the business stationery, but don’t just focus on the idea of a traditional template. Brainstorm what your team does on the regular and create brand standards around these. Such as:
- Print templates
- Social media templates
- Share templates
- Do and don’t lists
Having these branded templates on hand makes it so the entire team can contribute knowing they’re aligned with the brand properly.
Build an Approval Process
Of course, there will be times you have to stray from the templates with new projects or posts being created by the team. So, how do you make sure your brand is represented in all of these? Through an approval process.
The F8C team knows I love my processes. Having processes in place assures things run smoother.
When you’re a small team, it’s easier to not have a set structure, but when you’re expanding you need processes. This also ensures everyone knows what templates to use for what, what logos should be used, how to implement the typography and the voice, etc. It’s a road map for your team for applying your brand to standard operations.
The approval process could be as simple as every social media post being sent to one team member for review before posting or could be graphics to one person and copy to another. As a team, you’ll have to decide what works best. We do recommend having someone on the team who is branding person, ensuring every department is adhering to the standards and applying the brand style guide appropriately.
The approval process will most likely feed more into the onboarding process for new team members as well. As new members are learning the brand, you’ll need a process for helping them and editing their projects.
Start the approval process and you can always adjust from there to discover from works best for every department or team.
Remember the Mission
Everything should come back to your perfectly crafted mission statement. Even if you change services or pivot your strategy, they should come back to the original mission.
The “why” is really what it all comes down to. Why are you presenting this product to your target audience, why are you creating a new service, why are you in business. It sounds drastic but your decisions come back to that. You’ll look at us like we’re crazy “you want my Instagram posts to come back to my mission statement?” Yes, yes we do! Just like you have your overall organisational goals, you’ll have your overall business strategy and then delve into the individual strategies for the different business section, like you would delve into the individual goals of your platforms
With all of the individual strategies, you can easily get lost in the weeds. That’s where the mission comes in. Take your head above periodically and check in to ensure everything is coming back to the why.
Your brand is your why. The heart of your organisation needs to be reflected in your brand. Think of Nike, their brand is not only fitness or the Virgin brand being more than one industry. They have clear set brands that are tied to a higher mission and goal instead of a single product.
When you’ve set expectations that you deliver a certain level of experience, you have to keep their expectations of that. The bigger you get and the more powerful your brand… you want to make sure you are delivering.
– Melanie Whelan, CEO SoulCycle
Think Outside the Box
You shouldn’t ever feel trapped by your branding. Think of the organisations who inspire you – they’re fun and interesting and their branding never feels boring. In our example above, Nike and Virgin aren’t afraid to take their brand into new realms or try new things (like Virgins infamous safety video). But they always stay true to what connects them to their target market.
One of the hardest things about establishing a brand is deciding how to let it live. Your brand guidelines are just that, a guide to the brand. They should be a guide and not a final say – don’t think with your brand guidelines, you can never try anything new! Especially in digital marketing, there are so many ways to present your brand and ways you can integrate it into different platforms. Embrace a living brand and move forward with the digital age.
Consistency is key. Consumers are inundated with ads and services. It takes multiple interactions for your target audience to come back to you. Therefore, a strong brand is central to any strategy. A brand helps create a connection with your target audience and helps you be remembered!
Categorised in: Branding