Why your Small Business Should be Using Them
Your brand is bigger than the products or services you sell. It’s about expectations – all the things that your brand evokes in a customer’s mind.
Those expectations are the result of a customer’s collective experiences with your brand, and can include packaging, emails, invoices and even tweets.
Basically, every little thing that your brand produces and puts out in the world is part of the experience of your brand. Every time you create something that doesn’t perfectly gel with that expectation, you run the risk of going “off brand”.
This creates dissonance in your customer’s mind and dilutes the power of the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.
So, before you send out that receipt hastily worked up in Word or send that newsletter written in plain text format, stop and ask yourself: is this on brand? Is this conveying the image and attributes I want my brand to embody?
Chances are that if it hasn’t been professionally designed as part of a suite of documents, the answer is no. Hold off on that send button for a moment while we look at why branded documents are important – and what should go into designing your own document library.
The devil is in the details: and branded documents are no different
Doing good business is about sweating the small stuff. Paying attention to the big things is important, but it’s the little details that set apart the successes from the rest.
Branding is one of those details. Coherent, consistent branding isn’t just about an aesthetic. It shows that you understand your brand and understand how your customers interact with it. Branding is how you communicate your brand, and branded documents are an opportunity to remind your customers who you are.
Any document that leaves your desk without branding is a missed opportunity. You’re not only forgoing an occasion to reinforce your brand, but you’re reinforcing the idea that you don’t care enough about it to unify your communications under your brand umbrella. Or even worse, you may confuse customers or give them a misleading idea of what your brand stands for. Imagine if your iPhone arrived in a plastic bag with a PostIt note stick on top. You’d definitely be asking questions!
Consistency breeds success: developing a branded document suite
Developing a suite of branded documents is one way to keep your business on brand, reinforcing your brand attributes and cementing customer expectations. Done well, your suite should be consistent, cohesive and on-brand in terms of voice, tone and design.
So what elements should be considered when developing your branded document suite?
Logos and wordmarks. Your logo or wordmark shows at a glance who you are. It’s a powerful piece of communication, so and should be consistently applied across all documents. This includes where it’s placed, how large it is, the white space around it and any acceptable permutations.
Fonts and typography. The typefaces you use are important to legibility. You’ll need a hierarchy of typefaces used for headings, subheadings and body text. There should be contrast yet unity between them, and they should be easy to read. Keep these fonts consistent across all of your branding.
Colors and accents. Your color palette will instantly evoke your brand. Think IKEA’s blue and yellow, for example. Pick a handful of complementary colors and incorporate these into your branding. Ensure that they work together and allow for readability when combined with text.
Imagery and photography. If you use photography, keep it consistent. Create guidelines about the type of images you want to use, their color treatments and whether they’ll be overlaid with text or other graphics.
Voice and tone. Looks are important, but so is what you have to say. Your brand should have a consistent tone of voice that communicates your values – and speaks to customers in the way that they expect. Figure out how you’ll communicate, including any key terms you want to use or avoid.
Getting the word out: what needs to be branded?
Everything associated with your brand is part of your brand, so you should treat it that way. Business cards are an introduction that set client or customer expectations. Emails and newsletters are brand communications that speak to a captive audience. Even documents like HR handbooks and sick leave templates should be branded – they speak to your internal customers, after all.
At a very minimum your company should have branded templates for newsletters, letters, emails, invoices and business cards. Ideally, you’ll expand your suite to include HR documentation, receipts, packaging, PowerPoint slides and social media collateral.
Most important of all, though, is using your new branded suite. You’ve gone to the effort of developing a suite of branded collateral that paints your brand exactly how you want to be perceived. So roll it out and start using it, ensuring that no “on-the-fly” changes are made as you go. You’ll only be cheating yourself – and the brand equity you’ve worked so hard to build.
Need someone to help develop your branded collateral? We’re experts in branding and documentation development. Get in touch to see how your brand can go from strength to strength with our branded document services. Document services start at $49 (including two round of revision) and have a quick turn around.
Let our team handle all the back office details while you work on the front end of your business.
Send us an email or come and visit our beautiful offices, your future office.
735 Plaza Blvd., Suite 210
Coppell, TX 75019