What comes to mind when you hear the word soft drink? Running shoes? How about a hamburger?
We’d venture to assume that certain companies come to mind when you hear these terms—Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald’s.
This is the power of branding.
Branding goes further than simply choosing a name and image to represent your company.
It communicates everything your company stands for: the values you commit to as a business; the physical environment in and around your workplace; how you speak to your clients and colleagues; the ways in which you competitively position your business for commercial success; the long-term goals and aspirations for your product or service… and anything else you can think of.
Branding ultimately helps your business go from an unknown product or service provider to a trusted customer favourite. A successful brand depends heavily on how well it’s managed, both internally and externally. This is where thorough, well-considered brand guidelines come in!
What are Brand Guidelines?
Brand guidelines are clear-cut, company-wide rules on how your brand needs to be presented to your audience. It includes guidance on elements and assets such as:
- Logo identity
- Brand colours
- Image styles
Guidelines are ordinarily recorded and stored in an easy-to-access and easy-to-use style guide, brand manual, or brand book, providing instruction on how to apply assets consistently. But they can do so much more.
Brand Governance Builds Trust (and trust builds sales).
Keeping your branding consistent across all channels and communications helps customers to both recognize and trust your brand. And while brand trust can sound like a warm and fuzzy term, it has a significant effect on your bottom line.
According to a recent brand loyalty survey:
- 27% of customers are more likely to try multiple products and services from their favorite brands.
- 43% of people are willing to spend more money on brands they’re loyal to.
- 81% percent of consumers said that they need to trust the brand to buy from them.
As you can see from these statistics, brand consistency and customer loyalty are essential to your success.
Consistent Branding helps your Company Stand-Out among your Competitors.
Building a recognizable brand is the best possible way to stand out to your customers in today’s competitive business environment. Your brand guidelines must demonstrate how to clearly and effectively communicate your brand’s value proposition — what makes a better choice compared to your competitors.
This value proposition should be repeated throughout your company’s messaging, reinforcing your brand as the first choice for current and potential customers. You may have heard of “The Rule of 7’s” in marketing which states that a customer needs to see a message around seven times before they’ll take action to buy a product or service. So, the more you can reiterate the same message, the better!
Brand Consistency Helps You Connect to your Customers, Emotionally.
Can you think of any brands that make you feel a certain way? One often-cited example is the Australian brand Billabong. Their laid-back, youthful, surfer-lifestyle branding has made them incredibly popular in selected Australian sub-cultures and beyond. The reality is that there are many brands out there that sell beachwear, although it is Billabong’s brand consistency that has connected a feeling to their products— one that customers are willing to pay a premium to purchase.
A brand’s emotional connection cannot be established if it’s not consistent. Suppose your brand represents too many (or conflicting) emotions or experiences. In that case, the only thing your customers will feel is confusion. Brand guidelines help to strengthen and maintain that emotional connection to your customer.
A Strong, Consistent Brand Generates Referrals.
Having a consolidated brand increases sales and referrals. Customers are more likely to recommend a company they know will deliver a positive experience to the person they referred to your business. Consistency in your brand also helps customers with brand recognition, so if someone were to ask for a recommendation, your brand is more likely to be the first product or service to come to mind.
Your Brand Communicates Your Company Values.
Data shows that customers care more than ever about aligning their purchases with companies who share their values. 77% of customers say they prefer to buy from brands who share the same values as they do!
The stronger your brand becomes, the more your values will become associated with it. For example, Apple is known for its commitment to advancing technology; Tom’s shoes are known for their commitment to providing shoes to underprivileged communities.
The key to developing loyalty to your business is working toward your values day-to-day:
- 86% of consumers say that authenticity is a crucial factor when deciding what brands they like and support,
- 66% of consumers think transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand.
So, for example, if you’re communicating that your company values the environment, you should encourage using sustainable vendors in your brand guidelines. Alternatively, if your brand values positive health and empowerment, your image guide or library should reflect this. This brings consistency, authenticity, and legitimacy to your communications and creates a more profound connection beyond simply selling your product or service.
Brand guidelines communicate your company values and secure your brand’s strength, which in turn helps generate referrals and build customer trust. This ultimately impacts your bottom line in a big way. Be sure your brand stands out for the right reasons.
Do you need help building a brand your customers will grow to love? Call us today!