My first question to any new client is always: May I please see your Brand Bible?
Then, that awkward silence.
The truth is, very few companies actually have solid branding guidelines. Not to mention those who are intent on implementing it on a daily basis – or those who make the effort to understand the importance of letting their brand guidelines inform their writing and communications.
The struggle is real. Which is why I have decided to share some tips for branding beginners.
Anyone can do it
No matter how big or small, establishing a solid brand identity and guidelines is of critical importance to the growth and success of any business. So many companies – especially small business and startups – fail to consider this from the get-go! I often urge my clients to spend some time crafting a basic branding guideline before we even think about developing a communication strategy. This does not need to be a big fancy document full of marketing terms that no one really understands.
A brand guideline can be as simple as setting a few rules that will help you make decisions about the way your company looks, behaves and sounds – ALWAYS!
The key to implementing a solid branding strategy is consistency. You don’t need to spend thousands on developing a brand strategy that you probably do not have the time and resources to implement. Yes, we all would love to hire a top branding agency to conduct an extensive branding exercise. But the truth is, many business owners simply do not have the time, resources and money to invest in such an exercise. Luckily there are many resources and tools out there. Plus, you know your business best so why not give it a go?
The benefits of developing a brand strategy
A well thought through brand strategy is the best companion to your business objectives. It should provide the roadmap and allow you to set some “checkpoints” to inform every marketing and communications decision that you make. In doing this exercise with my clients, I am able to communicate the business objectives and values more clearly without having to resort to convoluted, generic marketing humdrum.
There is nothing worse than writing for a company that does not know what it stands for.
Even worse, nobody has time to read the same old marketing blah blah about professionalism and excellence and …
So, here are my quick and easy steps to developing your own branding guideline:
Step 1: Let’s talk about it
Before we establish what it is that you stand for, I want to know what impact the brand guidelines will have on your marketing and communications. Who should be using these guidelines and how will this help you focus on where you are going?
Step 2: Know your audience
Who is your target audience? How will you tailor your messages to meet their specific needs? Let me help you solidify your brand image to create a brand that people can relate to. By listing the behaviours and lifestyle of your target audience, I am able to focus my writing to speak to their needs.
Step 3: Identify the competition
A targeted content strategy will require some basic marketing research in terms of your direct and indirect competitors. Before you put any effort into sending messages about your brand into the world, you need to know what is already out there. Time and again, I have seen communication strategies fail because of a lack of understanding the shortcomings and strengths of competitor brands.
Step 4: Know what makes you different and own it
What makes your brand story unique? Answer this simple question, and we’re halfway there. A list of key differentiators is critical to any creative copywriting exercise.
Step 5: Tell your story
Your brand story should determine your initial brand message, which is why I always encourage my clients to get creative. What I am interested to know is:
Why should anyone care about what you do?
Your answer should be conveyed in only 2-4 sentences. Use a tone of voice that you think suits the brand you want to convey. And remember: Do not write about what your business does. Don’t mention products or services. Write about the bigger picture, appeal to the reader on an emotional level, keep it simple and clear.
P.S. There’s no right or wrong answer. I usually encourage my clients to not overthink it. This (often uninhibited and original) content always proves extremely useful to inform any further professional content and copywriting.
Let me help you be authentic
Now that you have a better idea of my approach to understanding your brand better, let’s create something meaningful together!
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What more can I offer? My Branding Guidelines Workshop will help you establish and structure the following:
- Your brand story
- Brand position
- Brand personality
- Brand tone of voice
- Communication guidelines
- Key messages and proof points
Note: My services do not include the development of a Visual Identity and Application Toolkit, but I have a list of talented sidekicks on speed dial…
Make your brand come alive through content marketing
Based on the outcomes of the Branding Guideline Workshop, I am able to refine a basic marketing and content plan, specific to your:
- Business objectives
- Brand identity