Now, anybody with a computer can print their own business cards, launch their own website, and design their own marketing materials using the myriad of do-it-yourself tools available online. Businesses big and small are taking advantage of this: tasking not-exactly-qualified employees with designing the next promotional flyer, or entrepreneurs taking on the design of their own website. And social media has provided a place for businesses to market themselves where they should be taking the reins, and posting for themselves.
While asking non-creatives, non-marketers, and non-strategists to market for you isn’t the ideal situation, there’s no way to get around the fact that it happens, and when it happens, the likely outcome is a loss of brand consistency. Below are a few tips to help alleviate the consequences, and make sure you company stays on-brand.
A brand guideline is your business’ brand bible. It’s a roadmap for creating communications and marketing within and outside of the company. It defines your company vision and mission, it’s values, it’s logo, colors, and fonts, the image style, layout style, and voice style. It presents templates showing how business cards, letterhead, flyers, posters, store fronts, packaging, digital creative, social posts, and more should look. If you don’t have a brand guideline, work with a branding strategist to create one now. You’ll thank me for it later.
When you’re running a business that has moved well beyond the status of ‘solopreneur,’ it’s likely that there are more people who have their hands on your brand, more people speaking for your brand, and more people involved in promoting your brand. You have a team, and you want your team involved, perhaps they are posting on social media, or working with a designer on a new campaign for the business, or helping to launch a new product. This team needs to understand the brand. Hold a day-long business retreat for your team. Make sure everyone has a copy of the Brand Guidelines, and understands them. Ensure everyone is operating under the same mission and vision, and understands the company voice. This doesn’t just apply to marketing, either. How your employees communicate with customers, clients, and even each other is a part of brand consistency.
Now that your team is on board with the brand guidelines, you need to choose a member of your team to be the brand police. This may be you, it may be an employee with some background in promotion or marketing, it may even be someone outside of your team—like a marketing consultant or agency. Someone with an understanding of your brand needs to review and give a final OK (or suggest changes) to any promotional materials or public-facing campaigns in order to ensure brand consistency.
Brand love comes from a place of trust and emotional connection between customers and your brand. Without brand consistency, you will confuse, and ultimately lose, your customers. Don’t fall into that trap, follow the tips above!