Having so many ways to communicate about your business — in-store merchandising, websites, direct mail, events, product packaging, mobile apps, print ads, social media, email — makes it easy to send mixed messages if you aren’t diligent with your branding. The fastest way to undermine the power of an effective brand is to be inconsistent in the look, feel, and tone of your marketing. At Bluegrass, we are experts in omnichannel marketing. This is when brand consistency is crucial. The goal of omnichannel marketing is to share the same message to the same people through multiple channels. If these people are seeing ten different fonts and six different logos, how are they ever going to remember you?
How to keep your message on-brand
Do your research
You can’t just dive into creating a style guide for your brand without doing research on what has been successful in the past and taking inspiration from other well-known brands. This will provide you with different ideas of how to best present yourself through branding guidelines or logo designs.
Create a brand strategy
If you have a team of marketing, design, and digital experts a brand strategy can be created in-house. You can also work with an outside marketing firm. If your company doesn’t have a visual identity, create one by designing a logo and a tagline. Use this to establish a look and feel that will be used in all of your marketing. You’ll also need to determine key messages to communicate as well as the voice you will use. Will that voice be professional? Humorous? Or maybe casual and relatable? Whatever you decide, your brand should reflect the personality of your company. For example, if your company makes ice cream, your brand will likely be more playful and fun; if you run a law firm that handles litigation for multinational corporations a more professional tone will likely be chosen.
Develop a style guide
Create a simple set of guidelines for your brand’s visual identity. Visual identity includes 4 major elements: logo, brand colors, typography, and additional elements such as illustrations, and icons. Your style guide will keep your creative team on track, ensuring that they are using the color palette, typefaces, key messages, style, and tone chosen for your brand.
The logo is the most important component of branding. It’s what you want everyone to recognize and immediately know it’s your brand. Include a secondary version for situations where there isn’t enough space for the full logo. For example, the red play button that YouTube often uses.
Make sure your colors are consistent across media by including the necessary hex codes, RGB values, and CMYK color. You can also use different fonts for your brand that will help you stand out from the crowd. Primary and secondary font options should be mentioned with 3 – 4 examples each, including both name of the typeface as well as size/weightage info. Finally, be sure to create guidelines for extra elements like icons and photography.
Get everyone on board
Your style guide must be easy to access. People cannot follow it if the information is not easily located. Then mistakes are likely going happen which ultimately could hamper brand consistency. Everyone from the CEO to the newly hired copywriter must understand the company’s branding strategy and why it is important not to veer off the approved path.
Stick with your brand–and use it everywhere
After you establish a visual brand strategy, use it in every form of communication created — even in places you think it doesn’t matter; because it does! For a brand to be strong, the style guide must be used at all times. Make every piece of communication your own with your typeface, your logo, and your company’s language and style.
Keep in mind your brand’s style guide isn’t a timeless document. Your brand will change over time as the company changes and so should your style guide. Think Pepsi-Cola for example. They’ve changed their logo so many times I’ve lost count. However, with every update, they always stayed true to the brand – as should you!
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