You’ve spent months working with a branding firm to identify and develop a visual identity, a color palette, a logo, messaging, and more. Decisions have been made and final files have been sent. Now what?
Implementing your new identity in the right way is one of the most essential parts of establishing and cementing your brand. Remember that repetition of your visuals and messaging leads to the association of your company with the ideals that your brand messaging eschews. Familiarity with your brand can also foster trust and confidence in customers—consistency is key. But your focus should also be on adaptability; in a world with such a variety of platforms (print, web, social media, non-traditional advertising), creating versions of your messaging that fits each medium is equally important.
Follow these seven steps to ensure that your branding efforts aren’t going to waste.
1. UPDATE ALL CHANNELS WITH YOUR NEW VISUALS.
One of the simplest, and yet most often overlooked, steps to creating a recognizable and memorable brand is to update your visual identity—including logo, colors, and typography—across all mediums. If you don’t, you risk muddling your brand image, confusing your customers, and missing an important opportunity to cement your company in the public’s mind. Plus, the old visuals will quickly look outdated in comparison to your refreshed company image!
Update everything that features your logo or visual identity— that means letterhead, website, signage, business cards, contracts, uniforms, packaging, e-mail correspondence, ads, etc. Don’t forget social media—we’ll delve into this more later.
2. DETERMINE YOUR BRAND “VOICE.”
The “voice” or “tone” of your written content is just as important to your branding efforts as your visuals. Your brand messaging is a good example of tone: is your tagline cheeky and cute, bold and brash, classic and refined? Keeping this tone consistent throughout mediums is essential to cementing your brand. Think of this as the “personality” or “attitude” of your company.
Examples of written content that should adhere to the same voice include web copy, advertising copy, blog posts, television and radio commercials, newsletters and e-mail blasts, and social media updates.
3. CREATE A STYLE GUIDE FOR ALL COLLABORATORS
Once visual identity and tone are established, creating a written guide accessible to anyone who might be involved in your company’s marketing is extremely important. Staff or roles may change, so in order for your brand to stay consistent, a concrete set of parameters for visual and written content is necessary.
This guide would ideally include your company’s typefaces and color palette (down to exact hex codes!), which versions of your logo are appropriate for specific applications, how you prefer to format content for print and for the web, your exact tagline including appropriate punctuation, what styles of photography or graphic design are on-brand for your company, etc. Then share this with everyone from the intern who updates your Twitter account to the apparel designer who’s working on your company sweatshirts.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADAPT
While consistency is essential, it’s important to remember that repetition doesn’t need to mean using the exact same content across all channels. With so many different platforms and mediums available for advertising today, it’s important to stay flexible and adapt your content to each channel’s audience.
It’s also excellent to be surprising or playful with your brand identity. How can you create season- or holiday-specific messaging while retaining your brand’s tone and style? How would you go about creating an ad that congratulates another organization—while tying in the key benefits of your own company? As Smashing Magazine points out, “the ideal balance stems from the ability to be flexible while keeping intact the core principles and attributes that formed the brand in the first place.”
5. DON’T FORGET SOCIAL MEDIA!
Although the earlier steps apply to social media as well, we wanted to include a specific reminder not to let social media fall by the wayside. In today’s day and age, social media is—along with your website—the primary public face of your company. It’s how people will communicate with or about your brand, so the importance of taking an active role in that process of communication cannot be understated. Plus, social media offers an excellent opportunity to connect with potential customers in a way that feels organic, if done correctly.
Social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, offer a myriad of ways to customize their appearance, and it’s wise to take advantage of these options. Use your visual identity, including color palette and logo, across all social media platforms. Use a tone that’s consistent with your brand, but adapted slightly—for example, a Tweet might be a bit more playful than a post on LinkedIn, which has a business-focused audience. And make sure that you—or whoever will be maintaining your social media presence—is well versed in best practices for engaging with an audience online.
6. ALIGN YOUR SUB-BRANDS AND SUB-CAMPAIGNS.
Creating similar logos, using the same or similar color palette, and using a similar tone or tagline are all excellent ways to connect your sub-brands or individual marketing campaigns to your larger brand. But don’t forget, the key is to find a balance between consistency and adapting your brand components to the audience, so don’t be afraid to make customizations.
7. UPDATE AND ENGAGE.
You may have a great brand—and, if you follow these steps, a consistent, adaptable, and well established brand!—but that won’t do all the work for you. You’ll also need to engage with your customers (and potential customers) regularly, in a way that enforces your brand identity.
This engagement can take many forms—responding to complaints or comments privately and publicly, sharing customer-generated content such as photos or blog posts, and imparting industry-specific information via blogs and articles (like this one) are all excellent ways to engage your audience. But don’t be afraid to get creative. Host events or classes, offer exclusive perks to loyal customers—just don’t forget to adhere to the core values of the brand.