I believe – strongly – in branding. Maybe that’s because I was “raised” in an agency environment. I believe that every brand has the ability to project themselves larger than they are simply by creating an identity and then being mindful of it in everything they do.
I can’t tell you the number of companies I work with that fall flat when it comes to branding. Sure they have a website, and their logo is plucked down on it. But beyond that, they don’t really have an identity. Branding does not just mean having a logo. It means:
- Look. What is the overall appearance and vibe of your company?
- Voice. What is the tone? Are you conversational? Serious? Consistency here is important.
- Mission Statement. What does your brand stand for? What’s it all about?
- History. What is your brand’s background? Its greatest successes and yes, even failures.
- Core Objectives. What is it your brand is trying to do?
- Tribe. For whom was the brand created? And what demographics are you trying to reach?
Once you have a strong feel for your brand identity, it’s time to get started creating it. You need a creative genius to design that awesome logo for you, but you also need a wordsmith who can create not only a tagline, but the voice behind your brand. The voice that will carry across every platform, and every piece of collateral from a TV ad to a print or web banner, to tweets and posts, photos and videos – even your letterhead and presentations. All of this must speak to your brand.
If you don’t already, creating a brand guidebook or “Brand Standards” is a smart idea. This should include all of the above, as well as the following information:
- Logo – color (4- and 1-color) and black and white versions as well as a reverse color option (if printing on a dark background, for example). Also show how it should be used, placement of logo, size, etc.
- Color Scheme – What are your brand’s colors? How are they used together? Can they be used apart? Be specific – list PMS colors for print production, CMYK for designers, etc.
- Font style & size – What fonts does your brand use? You should have a specific font style & size for headlines, subheads, body copy, etc. Drop in images/examples of each document. The right font can make all the difference in the look of your brand. Find a designer who understands and appreciates typography!
- Formatting – List margins of internal and external documents and any other formatting specifics.
Why should you go to all this detail and trouble? Because you’re setting the stage for the future of your brand. For new employees, interns, printers, freelancers, etc. – no more guessing. Share your Brand Standards with any one who is working on materials, tweeting and posting, designing, copywriting or blogging. This will ensure that everything produced, regardless of who created it, will look and feel like YOUR BRAND.
Here’s the litmus test: You should be able to remove the logo and still be able to tell it’s your brand. Target is a good example of this, as is Nike. There are many. Pay attention next time you’re out and about! And remember: You don’t have to be a Nike to act like one.
Do you need a writer who understands branding and marketing? I’d love to help you create your brand!
Your Turn: What’s the hardest thing about branding your company? What do you do well, and what do you struggle with? Have I left anything out? Please share!