Every business owners' hope is that their business will grow. Whether it's a small, medium or large business, there's always room for growth. It's an exciting process, but it might be short-lived if you're unable to manage your brand consistently.
As you add more people to your team and start producing more content (such as landing pages, social media posts and ads), how do you keep everyone on the same page? How do you maintain brand consistency to keep your brand's message clear and strong?
Here are five tips on how to do just that.
1. Create a brand style guide
With more employees and less time to look over every piece of content, it's difficult to catch off-brand materials before they go out.
Create a brand style guide that shows employees how to use your branding properly. This will help your employees create on-brand content that shares a consistent look and feel.
Your brand is more than just the logo and colors that you use, so naturally, your brand style guide will cover more ground than that. Here's a list of useful sections to include.
What does your company do? Lay the foundation for your style guide by first addressing your company's goals and what you hope to accomplish in the future.
If you haven't written a mission statement or want to spice yours up, here are some powerful examples.
- Patagonia: "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
- Walmart: "Saving people money so they can live better."
- Wendy's: "To deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation and partnerships."
Discuss who your target audience is. What's most important to them, and why do they use your product? This will help your employees better understand who they're talking to and why it's important to communicate with your audience in a consistent way.
When someone reads through your brand style guide, they should be able to relate to your brand and anticipate how your brand will respond in certain situations. This is why it's important to have a section dedicated to the values of the company.
What values must come first in your company? By including these, your employees will know how to communicate with your customers.
Your brand personality comprises the characteristics you use to describe it. If your brand was a person, what would they be like? Professional, witty, funny?
If you're struggling to think of characteristics that describe your company, survey your customers and ask them what personality traits they feel your brand has.
This helps bring your brand to life and give better depth to your brand's voice, tone, messaging, and even its visual elements.
This section is where you put all the specifics regarding your logo, colors, typography and imagery. Provide as much direction with these elements as possible. For example, show each version of your company's logo and describe how it should be used, where it should be located, when to use certain colors, etc.
For more help in setting up your brand style guide, check out our post on great examples of brand guidelines. You can also look at this 99designs blog post that goes into more detail about brand guidelines.
2. Pay attention to messaging & tone
Communicating with customers is often achieved through writing. Text appears on your advertisements, in your product, in blog posts and on your website—just to name a few examples.
Imagine how confusing it would be if you had a friend who always spoke with a Midwestern accent, but then one day, they showed up talking like a Californian surfer or a seasoned New Yorker? All of these accents are great, but you'd be pretty confused about what was going on with your friend. Could you even trust them anymore?
This is why consistent messaging is important for your customers. If the writing on your website uses a formal tone, but they receive emails from you that sound like a casual conversation, they'll be wary—and rightfully so.
While creating your brand style guide, focus on describing your company's tone and provide writing examples that fit your company's voice.
When you read what other employees have written, give specific feedback about what is on-brand and what is not. Over time, they'll learn which words, phrases and punctuation are appropriate for the brand.
3. Regularly train your team
Now that you have a brand guide for your employees, show them how to use it. If you don't, your brand style guide will likely end up being ignored. If you can get your employees excited about your brand, they'll be inspired to represent it well by following your style guide.
The opposite is also true. If you fail to get your employees onboard with your branding efforts, they may reject these new "restrictions." This will promote more inconsistency and upset employees.
Keeping your brand consistent is a team effort that requires everyone to be onboard. Prepare an engaging presentation to introduce the brand style guide and strategy. Listen to their feedback, but make sure everyone understands the importance of consistency.
There might be a need for additional training for employees who are more involved in branding efforts such as writers, designers, marketers, customer service reps and managers. Once these employees are ready to build up your brand, ask them to share the same training with new employees as they onboard.
Keep an eye on the enthusiasm surrounding your brand. As it fades, you'll have to recalibrate with reminders and additional training. It's important for employees to know that you will champion the brand over the long term.
When you focus on building a brand, the most important thing is to commit to it. No matter how well thought-out your brand is or how clever your messaging is, if it's inconsistent, consumers will lose trust in you.
Create your brand guidelines, train your employees, find the right messaging and stick to it. The best companies in the world have championed their brands for decades. This consistency is part of their success—they've become familiar, beloved names for millions of customers. Lay the foundation for your brand today, so it can reap the benefits for years to come.