The #1 mistake in brand guidelines (and how to fix it)
If your staff followed a strict dress code but spoke to customers in wildly different ways, it wouldn’t be long before management took action to get everyone on the same page. Yet many companies devote volumes to brand standards for logos and graphics without sharing how all employees should live and breathe the brand. Every person in your organization can be a brand advocate, so make sure your internal guidelines include these four essentials.
- Your Brand Promise. The single most important idea your people can share with customers, a brand promise defines the value or experience that customers can expect from you. One great example is Nike, which communicates a larger promise behind “Just Do It”: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Such a compelling brand promise also has internal benefits, setting a clear standard for every customer interaction.
- Supporting Messages. In a world of competing voices, consistency and repetition are essential. Identify a set of simple talking points you want customers to remember, then provide them to employees as “approved” content they can always share – as conversation items with customers, as headlines or copy in print, as emails or web content. Four or five bullet points can be enough, either tailored to key market segments or as a standard copy platform.
- Voice and Tone. It’s easier for customers to connect personally with your brand when every message features a consistent, and therefore recognizable, voice. If you want to come across as “helpful and approachable,” specify a conversational, first-person style free of jargon or boasting. You might also emphasize short sentences and bullet points that everyone can grasp. This example from Intuit shows how humanizing traits can be built into a messaging platform, resulting in customer experiences that feel true to the brand.
- Values. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz famously said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” So set down the ways in which your organizational beliefs reflect or serve the interests of customers. Perhaps it’s community investment and volunteerism, or honest pricing and service, or pursuit of innovations that improve lives. When you make them part of your story, you will have a more distinctive brand that others admire.
These four cornerstones articulate the difference between a mere logo and a true brand, providing a blueprint for meaningful, engaging connections with customers and prospects. You can take the next step by contacting Creative Co-op today, at 603-658-1600.