PUBLISHED: January 13, 2023
Several years ago, a businessperson told me, “You are either making money or losing it.”
It’s a surprisingly simple statement that made me question day-to-day tasks vs. our long-term strategy for growing the business. Building a better branding foundation means consistency, continuity and clarity across all channels. We use this foundation for our clients as well as ourselves.
As much as we plan, there are inevitable “fires” that arise. Set general processes for how a new product would be rolled out and allow your team time in the schedule to adjust tactics if something isn’t working. Think macro to micro in terms of scheduling and build in buffer timelines so that there is room to make mistakes (and learn from our mistakes).
Images, fonts, graphics, and key points of copy, should be clearly labeled within folders that make sense to your business. Use a coding system that your team embraces so that files and projects can be easily referenced as opposed to referring to a project as “that blue flyer we did for a special offer a few years ago”. Tip: never label a file “new”
The process is just as valuable as the end result. Listen and watch your team work together and make suggestions to streamline the process constantly. When a project has been completed, measure results by weighing data as well as feedback from customers. Remember, not all of your branding efforts can be measured in converted sales numbers. Word of mouth, reputation and referrals are paramount.
Encourage brand ambassadors – people to carry the torch for your brand. Arm them with the right tools but not all the tools. Whether you are working with a marketing agency or with your in-house team, make sure everyone has been trained on how and when to use assets. Share your brand guidelines to ensure everyone sees the big picture, but don’t freely give out the vector format of your logo without vetting the end use.
Every brand should have a document that indicates fonts, colors, image usage and tone of message. This document is a guide and should be updated on a regular basis as your brand grows. New technology or expansion of your services usually prompts an update to the guide. Be careful not to lock yourself into too many rules that inhibit your brand to be relevant.
If you’re creating a Branding RFP – Request for Proposal, make sure to adhere to best practices in order to ensure the highest likelihood of a great branding agency answering the call:
Clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish and be clear about your expectations. W you’re buying may sound obvious to you, but you might be surprised at the number of clients that have trouble specifying their parameters.
Don’t paint a picture of your preferred creative solution. Concentrate on your end goals. They are experts in their fields, just like you are the expert in yours, and you’ll be hiring them to create or find the optimal way to help you get to your finish line. You should be able to have a productive conversation during discovery and any brand workshops they might host.
This is the somewhat less sexy, considerably boring part of doing business. Make sure your contract is fair, concise, clear, and thorough. Be open and honest from the start. Focus on the terms of cooperation, flexible payment options, and your most important principles and values.
Be precise. Describe the function of your governance model, and what kind of service metrics you want to achieve. Measuring success is just as important as achieving it, and arguable more educational that just getting the win.
Remember that the RFP process goes both ways; don’t set unreasonable or unrealistic timelines. Be responsive, communicate openly, and don’t miss deadlines, especially if their yours to begin with.
By creating flexible yet clear systems, training time for new recruits is more manageable and brand consistency is easier to achieve.
Good luck! And don’t forget you can always reach out to us with any questions here.
Previously published in 2017 at Community Newspapers.
Revisions added January 2023.
About Brand Poets
Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention. www.brandpoets.com