In an increasingly competitive marketplace, does your company stand out?
The truth is, the strength and consistency of your brand promise could be playing an even bigger part in this than you’d expect.
But before we get started, answer these three questions to gauge your company’s ability to rise above the noise:
Can your customers tell you apart from your competitors?
Do they know and trust your company?
Could they pinpoint your company if they were only shown one single piece of your branded materials, like a display ad or social media post?
If your answer to any of these is “unsure,” “no,” or “sometimes,” keep reading to find out why and how you can change those answers to “YES!”
Your Brand is More than Your Company Logo
Yes, your visual identity is important to your brand, but it’s not the be-all, end-all. You’ll also require fully fleshed-out brand guidelines that get into the nitty-gritty of who you are as a company, why that makes you different than your competitors, and how you tell your story to your consumer.
Without it, your company may be getting lost in a sea of corporate brands that are more successful at telling their story than you.
What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines define what your brand is and how to apply it in real-life scenarios.
Your brand guidelines should include:
Visual guidelines, including spacing, image preferences, and logo/font overlay options
Voice, tone, and style of your written and audio communications
These should all be decided on through market research that identifies what your competitors are doing, how you can stand out, and what your customers will connect with.
For instance, there’s a reason blue logos dominate the corporate world. Research has told us that consumers find the color non-threatening and even calming.
As you develop what your brand will look like, you should consider how your brand will sound as well. Are you approachable, lovable, and funny or are you more authoritative, fact-based, and serious? These will inform how playful or formal your word choices, colors, graphics, and images are.
Once you’ve defined the feeling of your brand, everything else will align more easily.
Applying Your Brand Guidelines
Now that you’ve put all of this hard work and thought into your brand guidelines, it wouldn’t just be a shame for it to sit and collect dust –it would be a disservice to your company.
Unfortunately, many brands break down the most when it comes to implementing their guidelines. Ensure that each of your departments and contracted services (when applicable) read and understand what’s been set. Most of all, enforce them — don’t let anything go public without a go-ahead from your brand guardians. Because there’s nothing worse than a rogue creative adding a drop shadow to a logo when it’s not an approved use.
Where will Your Brand Appear?
Really, in everything you create! But more specifically:
One aspect many companies forget is their internal communications. Your guidelines don’t only apply to what’s externally facing, they should be deeply embedded in your company culture, and your internal actions need to match the promises you’ve made to your customer.
Use Your Guidelines & Keep them Consistent, Because it Matters
So what if your brand color is blue but you prefer green today? Something as simple as a color change within a brand’s appearance can put your company on rocky ground with your consumer base.
Simply put, consistency builds trust with your consumers. They come to recognize your brand and know what to expect from you, so when you change that without a clear, directive purpose, you’re telling them to pause and question their trust. And a lapse in trust can cost your bottom line.
Don’t believe us? Lucidpress published a study:
“Constituents reported an average of 33% in growth if they maintained brand consistency” – Lucidpress
Imagine if that 33% in growth came from simply enforcing the guidelines you’ve put in place. It may require some reworking of approval processes and keeping your guidelines up-to-date, but in the end, you’ll see the pay off in customer retention and overall sales.