When it comes to building your business image, the most important step to success is to build your brand. Presenting a clearly defined brand can make the difference between the top dollar company, or the small business that gets jobs to cover rent. However, it’s important to keep in mind that when building your brand you’d want it to be consistent across the board. This can be a bit of a daunting task if you’re new to the branding game, but hopefully, these tips can help you out.
1. Create a brand guide
A brand guide is an essential business document to make your brand consistent across all of your platforms. Every business, no matter the size should have a complete brand guide featuring important sections. These include topics such as brand mission, voice and tone, logo usage, iconography, brand colours, media formatting, etc. As you work on building your brand handbook or “brand book”, look at other examples of brand guides to gather ideas for your company’s document. Be sure to establish guidelines and keep your entire business on the same page. This will help any newcomers to understand your brand and keep your future postings on message.
If you want a quick and easy way to develop a Brand Guide, Canva for Work offers that option. You can even export the document in a PDF format. Next, store all related collaterals like your high-resolution logo, commercial licensed typography and icons in one folder. Sharing Brand Guide will be such a breeze!
2. Circulate the brand guide
Though branding may seem like a topic that is reserved for the marketing and design sections of your company, it should be used throughout your organization. This brand guide will encompass not only how the company should be presented, but also the founding tenements of the brand. You won’t be able to achieve that unless you make your Brand Guide available to all departments in your organization. This is especially helpful if your company includes sales teams and production.
It also will beneficial to distribute to any freelancers or third-party consultants you may hire on to provide you with service as well as potential partners. These individuals will be able to identify your organization’s core values before entering into a business deal. The brand guide will serve as a valuable resource for all layers of the organizations and outsiders as well.
Think big. Your business will scale and grow. You wouldn’t want inconsistency as you grow. Set the foundation right with all necessary brand collaterals and you’ve pretty much stabilized the future!
3. Audit and update existing branded materials
After you’ve established your clear and concise brand guidelines, you’ll need to put them to work! In order to do this, you’ll need to update any of your existing branded materials to ensure that they fall in line with your new brand guide. Update your marketing resources, specifically: web pages, social media profiles & posts, brochures, business cards, signage, and videos.
Don’t neglect other more subtle elements of your brand that also should be changed like store décor, employee uniforms, packaging and labels, etc. Keep in mind that your brand isn’t just about replacing a logo in the right place – it’s about an entire experience for your customers. This will help your brand’s consistency at every touch point within your organization.
You may want to maximise everyone’s time in your organization by building your content plan in this model: 6 months ahead and then 3 months specific. Spend time to foresee campaigns for 6 months down the road, and then work specifically on the content for the first 3 months. This is the exact 6+3 model we implement at Blissful.asia.
4. Create a plan for the future
Schedule everything in! Once you’ve established your new brand identity, next comes the most important step – following through with this new image and shifting your core brand identity towards it.
This involves creating a plan for the future of your brand and your business as a whole. This plan allows you to have consistency in the future and not lose your company’s identity. Schedule an annual update for the brand plan to keep it on track and adapt to any changes in the overall business climate. It’s important that your brand should evolve over time and this will help keep that on track as your organization changes and grows.
You should also audit your content twice a year in order to verify that creative and design departments are sticking to the set guidelines. Checking in with your brand plan will provide clarity for customers, clients, employees, and more.
A month before the Annual General Meeting, set a date to discuss your brand. Take a day each to discuss with every department. During that discussion, identify which materials need to be improved, removed, or created to match to your brand. You’ll be surprised at the points raised by people in Finance vs those raised by Marketing. Then, stick to this routine and make it a definite annual procedure.
5. Keep your branding authentic
Don’t forget that your branding exists beyond just what your customers see; it is also about each member of your team. Make sure your internal communications match the same tone and messaging as any external communications.
In addition to your content, ensure that your work culture mirrors your company image and brand – whether that be more professional and buttoned up or casual easy breezy. It wouldn’t make sense for a boho surf company to have employees in ties and slacks or a marketing agency to have employees dressed in skateboarding t-shirts and cargo shorts.
Building a company culture requires effort and a strong HR team. Instead of dumping the new culture at one go, do it month-by-month instead. Use the carrot & stick method when you announce changes to company culture: announce the happy changes that involves benefits first. Then, within the same month, drop the not-so-favourite news to your team. They’ll appreciate it by the time the next carrot appears!
Consistency is critical to making any marketing effort work in the long run. Whether you have an established company brand, or you’re just getting started on branding – take the time to ensure your mission is conveyed throughout your company from the highest level employees to those who are sometimes forgotten. Eventually, your team and your image will become fully integrated into a unique brand and the consistency will become commonplace.
Now it’s your turn! In the comments below, share with us how you build consistency around your brand. Do you use any of the tips we shared here today? Or do you have any useful tips to share as well?