With so much content flowing through an organization, from ad campaigns and branded marketing materials to digital media content and social media updates, it’s easy to see how a company could get a little lost while trying to maintain a consistent brand identity.
Multiple people creating many branded elements can make it difficult to keep things aligned. For both big corporations and small business, it can be easy to veer off course, sometimes without even realizing it.
The lack of consistency may not be noticeable at first, but failing to identify and stick to a consistent brand identity can eventually have a negative impact. The brand can become disjointed, unreliable and divided so much that it confuses customers, clients, employees, and even the executive team.
So, if you feel like you’re starting lose the identify of your brand throughout your organization, use these steps to get back on course.
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1. Understand why a consistent brand matters.
It’s difficult to put any plan into action when you don’t understand why you are doing it. So first, you need to understand why consistent branding matters. Also, train your team to know the same so they see the value in consistent brand positioning.
- Projects professionalism. A cohesive brand looks more professional than a competitor that is all over the place with their marketing and identity.
- Establishes authenticity. When you stay true to a core identity, it shows that the identity is a part of who you are, not just something you created for marketing or promotional purposes.
- Provides clarity. A consistent position clears up any confusion that customers and clients may have about who your organization is and what you stand for.
- Builds trust. Customers and clients are more likely to trust a business that presents a professional, authentic, and clear brand image.
- Offers internal direction. Being clear about brand identity also helps employees and executive teams stay aligned with core values and positioning.
- Provides simplicity. When you have a defined brand image, it’s easier to make marketing and branding decisions because you have an existing outline to guide you.
A brand isn’t just about the way a company’s logo looks. It is about who they are and why they are in business, so be sure to document those values and guidelines.
2. Create a brand guide.
Once you understand the value of a consistent brand, you will see why a brand guide is an essential business document. Every business, both big and small, should have a complete brand guide with sections related to:
- Brand mission
- Value propositions and differentiators
- Voice and tone
- Logo usage
- Brand colors
- Fonts and typography
- Signage specs
- Media formatting
- Photography and graphic styles
As you build your handbook, look at examples of brand guides to get ideas for creating a document that establishes guidelines and helps keep your entire business on the same page.
3. Circulate the brand guide.
Branding seems like a topic that is reserved for the marketing and design departments, but it should be incorporated into a whole organization.
Because the brand guide explains not only how the company is presented, but also what the brand is founded on, it needs to be available to all departments including:
- Sales teams: so they know how to present the brand values to customers and clients.
- Product production: so they know how to design products and packaging to match the style of the brand.
- Third-party consultants and freelancers: so they can quickly learn how to replicate the unique voice and tone of the brand.
- Potential partners: so they can identify an organization's core values before forming a partnership.
A brand guide serves as a valuable resource for all layers of an organization and even some people outside of the origination.
4. Audit and update existing branded materials.
Once you establish clear and consistent brand guidelines, put them to work. Audit and update all of your existing branded materials to ensure that they match the new brand guide.
Update the obvious marketing resources such as:
- Social media profiles
- Social media posts
- Business cards
- Presentations slides
But, don’t forget subtle elements of your business that also represent your brand such as store decor, on-hold messaging, packaging and labels, employee uniforms and overhead music.
Remember, your brand isn’t just about placing your logo in the right place. It’s about the entire customer experience. Your brand should be consistently represented at each customer-facing touchpoint within your organization.
5. Create a plan for the future.
Once you go through steps one through four, your work isn’t over. Failing to follow through with this final step will take right back where you started -- slowly shifting away from your core brand identity.
Without a plan for committing to consistency in the future, you put yourself at risk for falling back into your old ways and losing your identity. So, set a plan for the future.
- Schedule an annual update for your brand plan. Keeping a consistent brand is important, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evolve over time. Schedule a time to review and update your brand strategy as your organization changes and grows
- Schedule an annual update for your design elements. Styles and trends change so branded elements also need to evolve over time.
- Schedule a bi-annual content audit. Check in to make sure that creative and design departments are sticking to the set guidelines.
Checking in and ensuring that you are aligned with your brand guide will provide clarity for customers, clients, employees, potential partners, and executive teams. So, don’t put off these five simple steps.
Create and stick to a brand plan will help your organization stand out, build trust, and present a memorable experience for every person who connects with your organization.