Part 1: Your branding checklist - the ultimate guide
Your branding should tell the story of you, your company, and your business. A strong foundational brand makes your memorable and helps you stand out in the sea of competition. From the first impression of potential customers to the gushing reviews and raving referrals from previous clients – your branding is your key identifying factor.
When you have a reputation to live up to, it’s so important that you are consistently hitting the nail on the mark in all facets of your brand. From your company’s name, logo, colour story, photography, mission statement, tagline, voice and tone should be consistent across all platforms – from your website, print material, advertising, and social media. It should even spread across areas of your brand that you maybe haven’t even thought were necessary such as your own company culture, copy writing, sell sheets, and presentation slides.
IT ALL STARTS WITH YOUR BRAND PLATFORM
The first steps to putting together a killer brand are creating consistency and cohesiveness throughout all platforms associated with it. Here at AS Advertising, the brand platforms we create for our clients often include:
Logo design & development:
One of the key defining factors of a brand is its logo. A logo is a simple yet strategic visual mark that holds so much meaning. The most fundamental action of a logo is to help differentiate you from other businesses. A logo identifies key information about your business. It can communicate the industry your in, the services you provide, your target demographics and your brand values.
Brand identity standards:
This is a branding blueprint that goes into details about the visual parts of your brand including your logo (or logo suite if you have various versions such as horizontal and vertical applications), brand colours (including PMS, RGB, CMYK, and black and white versions), typography and fonts (and what applications they can and cannot be used in), branded icons, supporting patterns, graphics and photography.
This includes anything with words – including your company’s name, tagline, mission statement (often known as the “elevator pitch”), a brand story (that connects the emotional “why” to your company’s services and offerings), copy writing (on promotional print material and online presence such as website, social media, blogs, course, presentations etc.).
Your brand platform is the lifeline of your brand. It can be translated to all the places your brand lives. You’ll want to keep these items top of mind and revisit them any time you’re creating something new for your business.
Take inventory of all the places your branding lives
Once you have your brand platform defined, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the look, feel and voice of your brand and where it can be found. First things first – lets figure our where your brand is showing up currently.
From imagery, key words, copy, typography, fonts, colours, and layout – your brands website is an essential component of your brand and a vital bridge for your clients to find and reach out to you. Your website should accurately reflect your brand and business offerings. Make it a point to review your website on a yearly basis to make sure that everything is still relevant.
From Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, there are so many platforms out there to sprinkle your brand – and consistently too! Think about your daily posts, your avatar or profile pic, and your cover image and profile copy. These are all opportunities for consistency and cohesion.
From your weekly newsletters to your email signature and even your actual email address – these are all opportunities for bringing your brand in.
It is essential to make a compelling impression that grabs the viewers (and potential clients!) attention while staying true to your brand. Think about the messaging, the tone, and visual appearance – these are all elements to build your brand awareness.
Business cards, letterheads and company envelopes are all key touch points and opportunities to make your brand shine! No matter what people say – business cards are still 100% relevant. Often times they are your first point of contact when meeting someone. Make sure you are memorable by investing in quality designed and “nice feeling” business cards – it’s often the deciding factor to keep or toss a call card.
Brochures, folders, posters, books, and informational pieces
All of these are branded components that need to be visually connected and consistent with your brand.
If you sell products, is your packaging delivering the experience you want your customers to have? Does your packaging stand out on the shelf in the sea of competition? Is it memorable? Does it link to your branding (visually and through it’s tone and messaging)?
Spaces and events
Office, work, and shop spaces, trade shows and vendor events – when it comes down to in-person events, it’s all about building your brands experience. Engage all the senses – smell, taste, and sound. What kind of lasting impression do you want to linger? These small details are often left out of your brand platform, especially if your business is mainly online. However, they are considerations that can make or break that first impression for a potential or existing client.
From your logo signage, window graphics and clings, to directional and informational signage, and car or vehicle wraps – these strategic applications of your brand deserve consideration. They will set you apart from the competition and will leave that lasting impression.
Your personal style and appearance – The way you show up to networking events is a reflection of your brand – especially if you are a personal brand. If you are not a personal brand, you and the employees you are hiring are a reflection of the company you stand behind.
PHOTOGRAPHY & Video
Photography is a facet of your brand that can show up in various applications of your brands platform –in person, in print and online. Photos set the tone of your brand and build a story – you know that saying “a picture speaks a thousand words”. Consider a series of photos including headshots, candid working photos, styled shoots and product or service photography, and conceptual or environmental images to help portray and your brands story and message. We recommend hiring a photographer on a yearly basis for a branded shoot, including headshots and supplementing with stock photography with your brand standards in mind.
Strategically incorporating video into your branding helps your audience visualize and understand your story. Videos captivate your audience along with building trust. When your potential clients see you and what you do in action – it bridges that gap of the unknown. Videos help visualize your process and are insightful for those “behind the scenes” footage.
Stay tuned for The Branding Checklist – The Ultimate Guide: Part 2 where we walk your through how to put these elements together to leverage your brand