Consistent branding is paramount in building and maintaining the idea in your customers’ minds that your company can be trusted and relied upon whenever and wherever they come to you. If any element(s) of your brand (your logo, tagline, messaging approach, “look and feel”) change from one marketing channel to the next, or from one campaign to the next—you can rest assured that your customers will change too—to a different vendor!
Perhaps you’re thinking, “But change is good! It keeps things fresh!” There’s a big difference between a fresh approach to your marketing and totally changing your brand because you think it may resonate better to a particular audience at any particular time. All elements of a brand should reflect your company’s mission and vision, the foundation on which all your marketing strategies are built. Change the foundation, and you risk becoming unrecognizable.
To ensure consistent branding across all of your marketing channels, there are a few things that need to be included in your brand foundation.
1. Brand Guidelines
A brand guide can be as simple as a two- to three-page “cheat sheet” that displays the correct logo, branded fonts and color palette, along with the company’s “elevator speech” and some examples of the brand in application. More exhaustive style guides go as far as to include what versions of the logo to use in different scenarios/applications; dimension limits and material specifications for indoor and/or outdoor signage; and do’s and don’ts of how to treat titles on business cards. Sounds over the top, but the more details you can provide everyone within your company, the better you protect your brand from being altered, distorted or misconveyed to your audience. Nowadays, to ensure everyone can easily refer to your company’s brand guidelines (and is actually adhering to them), create an online version and make it available to everyone through your shared intranet.
Use of imagery can be a huge factor in consistent branding. With the availability of stock photo libraries nowadays, it is important to include the types and style of approved photography and images in your brand guidelines.
2. Brand “Toolkit”
In conjunction with posting your brand guide online, keep all the approved logo files/formats in one central folder on your company network, along with templates for business cards, PPT presentation slide decks, social media applications and any other widely used branded materials. Include instructions on the appropriate logo format to use in various scenarios—print vs. online vs. screen print; RGB vs. 4-color process vs. Pantone colors; transparent background vs. reverse treatment, etc. As you can see, this can be a pretty extensive list, but is necessary for a consistent representation of your brand across a multitude of marketing materials. The toolkit can also include a library of pre-approved custom and/or stock photography to choose from.
If your company does not have a dedicated marketing department, designate one or two individuals to be your company’s “branding police” to ensure brand consistency within and outside the office.
3. “Tone” of Voice
Your brand gives your company a personality and a “voice,” and the tone of that voice should be consistent across all your marketing channels. Make sure that the tone of your content on Twitter is the same on Facebook. Conflicting messaging and tone of your brand “voice” across multiple channels cause confusion and dilute the trust and loyalty you’ve worked so hard to gain with your customers. When they see something come across their social media feed from your company, it should feel like it’s coming from a familiar, recognizable friend. There are instances where the content needs to portray and more “formal” tone, but your company’s personality should still be evident.
Creation of a content calendar for your online and social media marketing efforts can be a huge help in communicating a consistent voice to various audiences. This will ensure there are no “mixed” or conflicting messages being conveyed across channels.
If you’re a small start-up business, a complete, well-thought out branding of your company will put you on the road to success! Companies with a clear, consistent brand have gone to great lengths to make sure the three elements discussed here are nailed down, in place and accessible to everyone in the organization.