Many people think a brand is only a logo, and while a logo is a big part of a brand, it’s definitely not where an organization’s brand starts and stops. A brand is so much more than a logo, and when managed properly, a brand can precede your organization to do the important work of conveying your mission and business, even when you’re not around.
So all that sounds great, right? Absolutely. However, the ultimate question is: what are the elements of a brand, and how exactly do you “properly” manage them?
For all those asking, we have the answers.
We know we said that this is not where a brand starts and stops, but it is an extremely important element and will be the most recognizable brand asset in your arsenal.
Your chosen brand colors will be seen in your logo, collateral, website, and more, but it’s also important to apply these same colors to events, apparel, and anything else intended to carry your brand.
Your typeface should be displayed in your brand and used in your website, collateral, and ancillary brand vehicles (if applicable). Make sure you stay consistent with your use of typeface!
Brand messaging and tone are often overlooked as they are non-visual brand aspects. Your messaging can be as simple as a tagline and mission statement but can include talking points, messaging per organization audience, brand differentiators, and more.
The tone directly refers to the voice within your brand messaging, but your brand’s tone can also relate to visual brand assets as well. Essentially, this is the style in which you want your message to be perceived. This could be traditional, humorous, candid and transparent, etc. Your brand tone will also transition into your website copy, newsletters, and any other media that you provide to the public.
Now Manage It:
1) Brand Standards
All of the above assets should be documented in a brand standards document that covers each brand element and serves as a single reference point for all those charged with implementing or utilizing the brand. Much like messaging, a brand standards document can vary from the extremely simple (logo, colors, and typefaces) to an extensive document that defines the above-mentioned items, but also displays proper and improper uses, messaging, talking points, audiences, tone, and much more.
Employing the brand standards document will ensure the logo and related assets are used and displayed consistently across all forms of media. This is key to the branding process. Over time, this level of consistency builds recognition to the degree where viewers need only glance at your brand representation to understand the messaging is from your organization. What this means is that as you proceed, your marketing will become that much more powerful and cost-effective because it will take less and less effort to communicate who you are as viewers already have an inherent understanding of your brand essence.
3) Beware of Deviation
It’s easy to think your brand is becoming stale because you live it every day. You may think its time for a refresh in colors, messaging, or even the logo, but beware of knee-jerk reactions. We always tell our clients that (typically) when you’re starting to get sick of your brand identity, people are likely just getting to know it well. Unless there is a core change in business practices, naming, mission, etc, keep your brand consistent until it becomes dated or starts to become irrelevant. And how do you know this? My recommendation would be to consult an outside brand development organization that can evaluate your look and feel, messaging and core business to ensure your brand still aligns. Often times, organizations are too close to their own brand to not only see flaws but to see the positives as well.
4) Keep it Simple
It’s easy to get carried away with all the different aspects of branding. Thus, there’s a tendency among organizations when developing brand standards to attempt to tell the story relating to every aspect of their organization. The desire is to ensure audiences have a thorough understanding of what your organization has to offer. Unfortunately, this has an opposite effect of the intended and lessens viewer comprehension. In a nutshell, the more “stories” you attempt to tell, the more complex the global story gets and the less likely a viewer is to comprehend the important things.
Do your best to boil down your brand elements (this includes your logo) to their basics. Remember that your brand is your organization’s signature, and much like your personal signature, it identifies you and tells people who you are, but it does not need to tell the whole story. Rather, it needs to tell just enough to capture your audiences’ attention to open the door for viewer exploration and conversations that will lead to conversions.
Do you have questions about your brand or need to take the next step to refine it? The Voltage team would love to have a free consultation with you and share insight on what specific next steps to take. Contact Voltage today to learn more!