As your business grows, your brand becomes an ever-increasingly important tool to drive your success. It’s importance means you’ll want to nurture and protect it, and part of this will be developing your brand style guidelines.
Every business needs a logo as part of its brand. The logo is the element that most people immediately think of when recollecting a company or product; think of the Nike swoosh or Coca Cola as two obvious examples.
But the brand encapsulates all experiential elements that surround the logo and which encourage customers to feel a certain way about the company, product and service on offer.
This means capturing all of the important brand elements that need to be consistent, setting rules and guidelines that define how they are reproduced and used, and sharing these with your staff, partners and other stakeholders, for example, for media relations.
What your Brand Guidelines should Cover
Large companies will have large brand guidelines which can be quite complex. Small businesses can stick with simpler guidelines and allow them to grow and evolve naturally over time, as need and feedback input into their development.
An example of the sorts of things your brand guidelines will need to include would be:
- The logo and its variations – such as black/white, full colour, special colourways for certain campaigns etc.
- Rules on how the logo can be used – sizing, orientation, spacing etc.
- Accompanying brand assets or visual devices, which are usually placed with the logo to form a recognisable style
- Photography guidance
- Sign off processes, where required, for producing marketing items with the logo on.
- Availability of any pre-designed templates, such as branded letterhead, flyers, brochures, email templates and signatures etc.
Use a Professional Designer
Always use a professional designer to create your logo, your marketing materials and the accompanying brand guidelines.
Your brand needs to look slick and professional and the services of a graphic designer will ensure that this is achieved, in addition to requirements for readability and so forth. If you don’t have an in-house designer, a freelancer can produce these for you.
A Note on sign-off
When you have put time and effort into creating a brand and the right assets, it’s vital to monitor its use. Set in place processes that define how your marketing and administration materials are ordered and commissioned.
For example, your marketing team should be responsible for designing and printing any campaign, sales or marketing materials so that they are in line with the brand.
Centralise orders for items such as letterheaded paper, business cards, name badges and so forth, so that cost efficiencies can be maintained across the business and, again, the brand is maintained in a consistent and accurate way.
Ensure that someone has signed off before items go to print and that staff are prevented from designing any of their own items or playing around with the logo. Such efforts can rapidly erode and undermine your brand. When this happens, customers are likely to go elsewhere as they may question the legitimacy and professionalism of your offer.
Define your print material formats
Most brands will have standards and guidelines for the way that certain print materials are produced.
For example, letter headed paper and business cards will be on a specified paper stock with a set finish and weight, flyers will be produced in a certain way with a consistent look and feel and email templates will look consistent within a campaign or communication style.
Again, ask a designer to produce these templates and then store print-ready versions centrally so that replenished materials can be ordered when required at your printer. Some businesses will store the artwork for these common materials with their printer for immediate reprints.
Select your print partner
A good printing partner will be able to produce materials which are in line with your brand and many also offer an in-house design service. They can advise as to the right print methods for your order, such as Litho for high-quality brochures at large print volumes and digital for cost-effective short-run flyer prints.
The right printer will provide proofs for checks and approvals before print jobs go ahead and provide bulk order discounts to save you money on your unit costs.
Don’t underestimate the value that services such as printers and designers can offer to your business in terms of keeping your brand looking smart, professional, consistent and attractive.
It takes time to build up a recognised brand and consistent effort to maintain it. However, these efforts will pay off in terms of awareness, conversions, sales and – ultimately – customer loyalty.
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