Swoosh

Consistent branding. An amazing number of small businesses struggle with this concept that most creative minds consider second nature. Portraying a uniform branding message across all mediums is imperative. The only way to accomplish this is to clearly define your brand and make sure all members of your creative team, both in-house and outside contractors, work together to accomplish brand consistently.

There are three key items you need to begin branding any business: company colors, logo and boilerplate. Company colors should be designated PMS colors used in your logo and marketing materials. The logo should be a clean, slick representation of your company that is readable on all forms of media, from business cards to billboards. Finally, the boilerplate is your standard company description to be included in all press releases, Social Media, website and marketing materials. Once you have these three elements, you are ready to begin developing your marketing plan and collateral.

Let’s examine some branding tips to consider when working with various forms of marketing:

Social Media

It is important to make sure all of your Social Media graphics and messaging are consistent. Develop custom banners and graphics for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Use your boilerplate to describe your company and include a link back to your website. Every Social Media platform should portray a representation consistent with your website and other marketing materials. Also, be sure to incorporate your company tagline (if applicable).

Website

It sounds simple enough, but surprisingly, many businesses still fail to make sure their website complements their other marketing materials. Connect your website developer with your graphic designer and copywriter to ensure all colors and copy are consistent with your branding message. A good website developer should be able to translate CMYK colors into RGB, and although they will not exactly match, they will definitely come close. Try to use the same copywriter for your website as you do for other marketing materials to ensure the tone and style are consistent. And, incorporate your company tagline (if applicable).

Advertising/Public Relations

Your graphic designer should work alongside your copywriter to develop ad concepts. If you have a designated public relations professional, be sure they work cohesively with the rest of the creative team when developing press release content so the messaging and graphics remain consistent. Incorporate the tagline (if applicable) into all of your advertising and public relations materials.

Help! Now my client is “breaking” the brand!

Every so often, there comes a time when a client stands in the way of their own advancement. “Creative” minds cringe when their clients come up with “brilliant” ideas they know will not present well or breaks the brand. This can be tricky, because in a sense, your client is your boss. However, as a professional hired to do a job, the end result is ultimately your responsibility. When a client clashes with your creativity, the best course of action is to first advise them of why you think their idea may not be as effective. Laying it out on the line and advising them of the pros and cons will sometimes help sway them back your way. If that does not work, you may have to take the time to develop their idea. Quite often, it will not live up to their expectations on paper and they will abandon it. However, if they still want to stick with it, then you have to make the decision to either go with it as is, or walk away from the project. If you allow them to go with it as is, be sure to again advise them of your professional opinion, then let it go. If in the end it does not produce the expected result, at least you advised them of your opinion. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink!

Just remember, when it comes to company image, consistency is key. The goal is for people to immediately be able to identify your business anywhere. Think of some of the larger companies who do this well. You can identify one of McDonald’s restaurants or advertisements anywhere in the world by just their golden arches. The Nike swoosh is another example of excellent branding. You may not be McDonald’s or Nike, but successful imaging is not out of reach for small businesses that properly strategize and think big!

Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response.  Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.