Before we talk about brand guardianship, before you can think about guarding your brand – you must have one! So, just exactly what is your brand and why is it talked about so much?
Your brand is so much more than your logo! It’s your attraction factor. And it’s made up of different elements – tangible and intangible – that distinguish your business from the rest:
- Values & personality – The set of human characteristics that can be attributed to your brand e.g., professional, fun, outgoing, adventurous. These characteristics will resonate with your target audience.
- Customer experience – Every aspect of the customer journey is a expression of your brand, including quality of product, customer service, aftercare etc.
- Visual identity – Your logo, brand mark, colour palette, typography, image style etc.
- Tone of voice – The words you choose and how you render them.
What is brand guardianship exactly?
Guarding your brand is the task of making sure your brand shows up accurately and consistently across all touch-points and channels. Everywhere a potential or actual customer experiences it – yes everywhere! It is often the preserve of marketing departments but should be top of mind for everyone who works in and with your business.
Considering the significant investment (mental, time and money!) businesses make in creating their brand, it is surprising how many are not making the best decisions when they apply it across traditional and digital marketing. Yet, not looking after your brand properly is like leaving a hot trap dripping – eventually there is no hot water and taking a shower becomes very uncomfortable!
One of the biggest challenges of brand guardianship is to allow for innovation and creativity, whilst still working within expressed brand guidelines.
Brand guidelines are there to guide and not dictate, so allow your brand to grow and evolve as it needs to and don’t be afraid to refresh your brand when you think it needs attention. Give yourself some wriggle room, but know if it’s heading out of control. Little and often is the way to manage it, then stand back regularly and take a long cool look.
4 fundamental reasons why you should take guarding your brand seriously
Underpin your values & message
Consistency is key to a successful brand, it…
- ensures your brand is instantly recognisable to those people that you want to attract.
- allows them to actively seek you out and identify you from your competitors.
- is your opportunity to reinforce your values, personality, and messaging
…so your target audience really understands what you’re all about. If they don’t get you, they won’t buy from you.
Create trust among your tribe
The way you present your brand helps to create trust, much in the way you would present yourself. So, if you turn up to an interview in the City of London in a tracksuit you might not get taken the same way as if you dressed in a suit. We think these days, that this is not important, but we are so tribal in many ways. In the words of Seth Godin ‘people like us do things like this’. The same is true for your brand. If you listen to what they want and consistently communicate your brand values and personality, you will create trust among your target audience and they are more likely to buy from you, and tell their mates.
So many marketing channels to choose
Long gone are the days where your brand would only be presented across a handful of printed marketing materials and the odd TV channel. In today’s digital world effective brand guardianship is more important than ever. There are just so many places your brand can be found. With so many different touchpoints it’s essential that you keep a handle on things.
A stronger brand helps you compete better
In these challenging economic times, we are often competing with more companies for less business. To impress potential customers, you need to work harder and look better. Good brand guardianship ensures your brand is working hard for your business. The more effort you put into safeguarding your brand, the better it will serve.
4 simple essentials for effective brand guardianship
Investing in your brand and appointing a brand champion is essential for competing in today’s noisy marketplace, there are a few well-known tools to help
A brand guidelines document is essentially a living handbook that sets out the key elements of your brand. From your brand values and personality to logo usage, colours, typography and tone of voice in words and images.
It may even include templates for common marketing materials such as social media posts or point of sale posters. It should be the starting point for anyone working on your brand.
Regularly review existing materials
Brands are not static; they grow and evolve over time to keep up with the demands of the changing market and customers.
So, it’s important that you regularly review the marketing materials you have in circulation. From updating the messaging on your social media profile, to redesigning your business cards, it’s important that all materials in circulation are ‘on brand’.
Make assets available
It doesn’t have to be complicated to ensure all marketing materials are meeting the brand guidelines. One way to do this is to make your brand assets, such as logos, images and colours, easily available in a library. For a small business this may be a shared folder, for a larger business an online library. Best avoid helpful team members ‘creating’ things themselves.
Proofing and checking
Proofing and checking everything that goes into the public domain can be an extremely labour-intensive process, but it is a necessary one for ensuring everything is always on brand. Putting workflow and approval systems in place is the way to go, not just for ensuring brand consistency, but also checking an odd typo or spelling mistake doesn’t let you down.
Brand guardianship for print
When it comes to print marketing there are several different things your brand guardian should watch for, especially when it comes to your visual brand. Print is a high impact, though often perceived as high-cost, medium when compared to digital marketing channels, make sure you protect your investment in this powerful channel.
Colours are a huge part of your visual brand identity and they will have been carefully considered. Without colour management, brand colours can start to vary across different media resulting in the brand losing identity and impact. If you don’t care about this, what else might be slipping!
One of the first things to go astray when rogue team members create their own artwork is specially chosen fonts. Your brand guardian should be able to spot the difference between similar fonts like Arial and Helvetica to ensure your visual brand identity remains true.
Create moodboards of the direction you want to go in and use this to guide image selection and photography briefs, it will make sure that your content and your images work together to really make your messages sing.
The materials you select for your printed marketing are just as important as the design itself. If you’re talking eco-friendly then you’ll want to use a certified sustainable or recycled paper or board; premium brands will look at foil blocking, spot varnishes and embossing to demonstrate luxury. Make your choices and stick to them.
What makes NEXUScpp different?
While it may make sense to have someone within your organisation to really guard your brand, it’s often much more efficient to appoint a professional outside of your business. Someone who can look at your marketing materials with fresh eyes and provide a non-emotional, informed evaluation of your designs.
At NEXUScpp we’re print consultants, but we’re also marketers. We understand the importance of brand consistency and can provide an objective second opinion on all your marketing materials, protecting your brand and enriching it with top quality print.
Want to find out more about how we can help keep your brand safe? Tap in to our print wisdom! Get in touch with us today to arrange an informal chat.