Inconsistent branding is disastrous for a business.
Without a consistent message, voice, and feel, your company will get lost in the chaotic noise of the internet. Trust becomes difficult to foster, and you may find your audience no longer responds positively toward your brand. Worst of all, with no unique differentiators, your business may get lumped in with the mediocre performers of your niche.
Fortunately, there are simple ways you to guarantee your brand stays consistent across all of your marketing channels. The best part? You don’t need to spend any more of your budget to make it happen.
How to Create Consistency with a Brand Guide
For those who’ve spent hundreds of hours building a business, the dangers of inefficient branding can be fear inducing. Why prioritize branding for your company?
With consistent branding you can:
- Give your brand a unique personality
- Stand out among competitors
- Increase engagement and loyalty
- Increase worth through perceived value
To ensure consistent branding, some businesses hire brand ambassadors; others dedicate individuals to proof all content prior to publication to ensure consistent brand voice.
Another way to ensure brand consistency is through a brand guide. Especially if your company is larger than five people, a brand guide is essential to communicating brand vision and strategy to every person representing the brand - whether via content, social media, or in person at a trade show. To keep consistency, your best bet is a brand guide.
What to Include in a Brand Guide
While you can add anything to clearly define your brand's vision to a brand guide, try to keep it to the essentials. Cluttered details will only make it more difficult for your team to decipher the voice you’re trying convey. If you outsource, it’s even more important to make it clear.
Have a section for designers that covers the color schemes, when to use certain logos, and other graphic decisions. For writers, it should include brand character, brand voice, and anything needed for them to generate solid content and copy on brand.
Below are five key elements to include in a brand guide:
1. Your Brand’s Mission
Your brand’s mission statement and vision express why you do what you do. Why you’ve made certain decisions with the company voice, and what the company stands for. Opening with it reinforces the goals of the business, and lets employees focus outside of their own role to understand how they fit into the greater vision.
When crafting your mission, add a description of your brand’s essence. How do you want to be perceived? Why do you want to be viewed that way?
If your marketing team understands the purpose behind it, they can more easily fall into place, and create quality content that matches your intent.
2. Hone in on Your Target Audience
No matter what style you choose for your voice, writers and designers need to know exactly who your target customer is and in order to create effective assets. It’s the pivotal piece to understanding why you want to be perceived a specific way.
Most businesses use customer personas and have build out persona worksheets. Add them to your guide to consolidate sources for your creators. Include buyer journey for each persona as well, so team members can shape their work accordingly.
3. Examples of Tone
This is where you break down the style of your voice. Include informative adjectives that describe the exact tone you want to reach. Aim for three different words that fit. Too many will make it difficult to narrow a specific vibe for your company.
Next, provide examples of how you want your brand to sound. Create explicit examples of what not to do and explain why. Remember, keeping this as straightforward as possible is vital to making it useful.
4. Brand Vocabulary and Grammar
Once you’ve chosen the words that describe your desired voice, share the key focus words and blacklisted vocab. A "do" and "do not" checklist is simple to follow and is often extremely effective for copywriters.
Make decisions - decide which words you want spelled out. Do you want every number to be displayed as a figure or word? What about capitalization - is it ok to capitalize key words that you want your audience to pay attention to? Get specific- these guidelines help shape how the world understands and views your brand, and how your team tells your brand's story.
5. Channel Styles
Finally, focus in on how content should be displayed and executed on each marketing channel. This includes your blog, social media platforms, email, and technical manuals. Any channel you’re planning to consistently publish on should be highlighted with instructions detailing posting and displaying content.
Social media platforms can be the trickiest of the mix. Focus on how social media fits into your marketing plan to help determine style. Inbound marketing plans differ drastically; the way a B2B Saas company uses social media will be completely different than the way an ecommerce company engages with social. Hone in on your audience (what platforms do they use and engage on? what messaging do they tend to respond to?) to help shape brand guidelines for social media.
Break this section of the guide down into types of social posts that may be published, and give examples of messaging, images, and interactions that work well for your brand.
Bringing it Together
Bottom line? Keep the important points clear while offering as much detail as possible. Building a brand guide is critical to streamlining your cross-channel image. Put time and effort into the information, present it to your company, and keep everyone on message and brand vision to achieve constancy.