Take control of your brand

On Tuesday I spoke at an Inspire Network meeting about how to be consistent at every touchpoint, so I thought I’d do a streamlined version of that today.

I like to say that branding is:

“The experiences, perceptions, memories and emotions that people have of your business whether they’ve met you or not”.

I think that’s quite scary. That means that if people are connecting with your business when you’re not around, you’re not there to clarify things for them and you might not be in control of the impression that they have.

So this is about getting your control back – being in charge, taking responsibility for the experiences, perceptions, memories and feelings that people have about your business. Your brand and your business should support each other because branding needs to be at the heart of your business  to make sure you’re communicating effectively. Tweet this.

Values

Brand values are one of the many things that you need to look at to work out what your brand stands for and what you want to communicate.

I’ve got a sheet for you to download which you can use to help you work out what your values are. It might take some time to hone these down, keep chipping away, changing words, going away and coming back until you end up with three to five words that you’re happy with.

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Touchpoints

Once you’ve done that you need to look at your touch points. It’s important to look at every one to make sure that you are being consistent with your business image. Touchpoints are the moments when people connect with your business – not just you – and they will not all be visual. Try to be as specific as possible.

If you can identify these then you are part of the way to taking back control.

So you can just make a list… examples include:

  • Your business card

  • Your website

  • Your blog

  • Your Facebook page, Facebook groups, your Facebook posts

  • Your voicemail message

Consistency

Once you’ve got your list then you need to work on your consistency. This doesn’t mean being repetitive and boring! The Google logo is the same every day – but also wildly different. It’s about being creative with your consistency to get the message across. Being consistent will help people to recognise, remember and trust you. It will differentiate you from others. It will give clarity to your prospects and customers and show them how reliable you are. It’s about impressing people so that they want to know more about your business – helping them to “get” you.

How many times does someone need to see your brand and recognise it as yours before they take action?

So to be consistent, you need to set some guides for your brand so that you can always do the same thing every time. These don’t have to be complex – you can make them as simple or as thorough as you like. Things you need to consider are:

Your logo

This is the most obvious part of your brand, but it’s only one part.  You’ll be plastering it everywhere, so make sure that you’re happy with how it looks and how well it communicates what you’re all about. Then set some guides. Things to think about are:

  • The minimum size

  • Can you split it to use the elements separately? Or not?

  • Positioning

  • Clearance space

  • Formats and the hierarchy for which ones can be used

Colour

You’ll know by now that colour is really really really important! You see a colour before you see a shape or a word. Colour has a very subtle effect on people and they’ll form an emotional reaction before they see anything else. Did you know that 90% of instant decisions are based on colour only? It’s really important to choose the right colour and the right shade or tone for your business. Check out the 11 colours series and then select a colour palette which works well together and use those colours as your main colours.

Typeface

The typeface chosen affects the opinion formed. You need to choose something which fits your business, so think carefully about it. Choose something people can read, make sure they will be comfortable reading to the end of a paragraph. Set rules about which typefaces you are going to use for your business. You might have one for your main text and another for headings, you might use italics for quotes and highlight important words with a colour, you might use one font in one colour only and your heading might need to be 3 points bigger than your body copy.

Brand elements

These work alongside everything else to support your brand and can include

  • patterns

  • illustrations

  • graphics

  • symbols

  • signatures

  • photos

  • style of photos and illustrations

  • tone of voice when writing

Again, set some guides so you know what to use when and stick to them. These should be in your brand colours and reinforce what you stand for.

Senses

It’s worth considering the senses too – especially for non-visual items on your touchpoint list. Think about smell, touch, taste, sight and sound and how you can maintain your brand with these elements. This could meant thinking about the paper you print on, the cushions on your sofa, the music you play, the way your workspace smells and what nibbles you offer your customers. This is all part of the brand experience. I wrote a blog post about this which you can read here.

What next?

Once you’ve worked out your values and your touch points and you’ve set rules for how you are going to be consistent, then you need to be able to implement everything. There are some online tools for this which I’ve not tried myself but have heard great things about. Canva and pic monkey are great for combining graphics and photos, gimp is a bit like Photoshop (so I’m told!) and there are also loads of apps you can get on your phone – a handy one is Ezy Watermark which is really good for putting your logo on photos before you pop them on social media.

You can also get hold of my Free Design Success Toolkit for more tips, checklists and useful info to help you achieve design success.

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You can download the touchpoint circle which you can use by popping your touch points around the edge and then slicing this up to work out what changes you need to make to glue all of those moments together.

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I’d love to know what values you came up with and what changes you’re going to make in your business to ensure a consistent brand and take back control, please let me know in the comments!

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