We’ve been at it for some time now. As Orange Element nears two decades of building strong brands to last, we’ve picked up on a few important considerations to help businesses of all sizes remain encouraged by their investment long after guidelines are in place, campaigns are active, and customers are feeling the love.
These considerations can be summarized quite simply by starting with the following questions:
- Where will your brand live?
- How much flexibility will you need to consider as the business evolves?
- Who will execute, manage, and measure your successes?
Pretty simple, right? Let’s dig in a bit…
Where will my brand live?
There is often a ton of effort, sometimes exhaustive, in outlining your why, how, and what. Yes, these are all important attributes when assessing or building your brand. Let’s assume you’re up to speed on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, all is to your satisfaction and you’re ready to get moving!
“Where will I promote my brand?” is a loaded question. There are other considerations to think about, so we typically explore the following questions.
- Are you 100% digital, omnichannel, leveraging programmatic, and social media platforms?
- Are your campaigns focused on direct response?
- Have you considered best practices, and baked in examples as to how your identity, voice, and image will translate across each?
- Are you leveraging best practices in each channel?
These are important questions to bring your brand to life. If you have not considered how it will translate to performance in each channel, there is likely going to be a large disconnect between your enthusiasm and how your audience interprets it. And, unfortunately, this is a realization that doesn’t always reveal itself until it’s too late.
How to avoid a brand disconnect
Understanding how to present your brand properly is in large part the responsibility of your agency partner(s). After all, you are hiring them for their expertise. They should come to the table prepared to apply data and customer insight to creative that drives action and better results.
But it’s easy to get caught up in a great presentation, hitting all points and perspectives from a brief, wherein concepts are energetically delivered and one option rises to the top. All the while, a primary channel or audience may be overlooked because a homerun concept is driving a specific campaign forward (as opposed to the brand itself).
This can be confusing. But by keeping this question top-of-mind, “Where will my brand live?” you can help ensure your agency partners are not missing any blind spots. For example, if your primary channel is social media, you need to choose a concept that clearly translates best for that channel. Ask this question repeatedly (for each channel) as you are absorbing each concept and you can more easily avoid a disconnect down the road. A brand built to last will have enough flexibility to work for you across all appropriate channels.
How much flexibility will my brand need as we evolve?
The most effective brands can leverage flexible interpretation. Unfortunately, more often than not, this too is an afterthought as internal and external partners are exploring how best to make strict guidelines work within a specific campaign or deliverable.
For example, an agency might deliver a playbook that outlines very strict parameters, as set by creative examples that display campaign elements in a specific channel. Minimum point sizes, font styles, colors, images, etc., are “locked” in and ultimately drive all decisions, all of the time. This is a very good thing when establishing guidelines at launch. And, clarity and consistency in the presentation will help maintain steady audience recognition.
But what happens when a new campaign, or deliverable, is realized and guidelines get in the way? Subjective interpretations can be easy to correct, but if guidelines are too rigid, a brand can be limited when exploring new campaigns. The results can be frustrating, limiting a brand’s ability to attract and entice.
How to keep things fresh
In addition to understanding where your brand will live, it is important to balance how your business or service offerings might evolve. Your business plan may include testing new services or offerings in the next few years. If so, there is no reason to lock in every aspect, when you can confidently execute a campaign that has great potential. It may seem contradictory to lock in how your brand will live in each channel and allow for this flexibility. But we’re here to tell you that it is okay to revisit your guidelines, even on the fly, and can often revitalize stale creative or make room to test new campaigns.
Our recommendation is to keep flexibility top-of-mind. Rather than say “this is not acceptable within the brand guidelines”, try asking “are there benefits to be realized if we make upgrades?” Or, “can we maintain certain restrictions while being flexible for this specific campaign and channel?”
Who will execute, manage, and measure my successes?
This is a bit more straightforward but still important. You likely have an internal marketing or brand person (or team), yes? If so, do they operate in a silo or are they privy to all strategies, tactics, and goals?
This goes hand-in-hand with flexibility. If there is a centralized brand team, be sure they are privy to all channel activity, campaign timelines, and creative assets that must comply (or flex) within a brand campaign’s lifespan. Your brand and supportive campaigns will need to be managed and measured from start to finish to ensure you are getting in front of your customers in a timely and consistent manner.
As simple and obvious as these questions may be, we have walked into enough conversations over the years where their answers have gotten lost. Whether you are building a strong brand in start-up mode or reassessing your existing opportunities, consider keeping these top of mind as you process your decisions, and put a plan in place:
- Where will your brand live?
- Can or should it be presented with flexibility?
- Who will manage the efforts of making the most of it?
If you would like to explore any of these questions further, we are happy to provide additional context and/or resources to help you make the most of it. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.