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Many people think a brand is a logo, and while a logo is a big part of a brand, it is certainly not where an organization’s brand starts and stops. A brand is so much more than a logo, and managed properly a brand can precede your organization and do the important work of conveying your mission and business, even when you’re not around.

So all that sounds great, right? Sure. But the ultimate question is what are the elements and how exactly do you “properly” manage them? Well, here you go:

Brand Elements:

1) Logo
Yes, I said this is not where a brand starts and stops, but it is definitely an important element and will be the most recognizable brand asset in your arsenal.

2) Colors
These will obviously be seen in your logo, collateral, website and more, but it’s important to apply these same colors to events, apparel and anything else intended to carry your brand.

3) Typeface
Your typeface should be displayed in your brand and used in your website, collateral and ancillary brand vehicles.

4) Messaging
This (and the next item) is often overlooked as they’re 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.

5) Tone
The tone most directly refers to messaging, but can also relate to visual brand assets as well. Essentially, this is the style in which you want your message to be perceived””traditional, humorous, candid and transparent, etc.

Now Manage It:

1) Brand Standards
All of the above should be recorded 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.

2) Consistency
Employing the above brand standards document will ensure the logo and related assets are used and displayed consistently across all forms of media. This is key and what it does is (over time) build 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 and what your about 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 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 elements mentioned above and thus there’s a tendency among organizations when developing brand standards to try and 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. Understanding of a brand both visually and messaging-wise has an opposite correlation with respect to the number of messages trying to be communicated. 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 (and this includes your logo) to their basics and remember that your brand is your organization’s signature, and much like your signature (that you sign on the dotted line) it identifies you and tells people who your are, but it does not need to tell the whole story. Rather, it needs to tell just enough to capture your audiences’ attention and open the door for viewer exploration and conversations that will lead to conversion.

Do you have questions about your brand or need to take a 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!

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