Branding Guidelines for Grown-ups

Everyone thinks they can do marketing sure it’s easy and common sense. Yes, I agree, anyone can do marketing badly but consistent and strategic marketing is all about the devil in the detail. I can’t think of any other department that gets ‘really helpful tips and advice’ and solo runs by people just mocking up their own materials and campaigns without running it by the actual marketing team. Could you imagine the backlash if a non-IT colleague logged into their company’s back-end and tidied up some of the code or maybe deleted a few files that were in the way, maybe even change the payment gateways? Or, if a techie decided to change around the contracts of employment within the HR files? It simply doesn’t happen yet poor old marketers spend half their lives defending their work and processes from internal camps.

Why brands matter?

Marketers do not obsess about the need to follow due process because we’ve boring empty lives. We’re all busy with projects, family, friends, hobbies, sidelines, further learning, sports and the lifelong search for sushi grade fish in rural Ireland. Let us step back and retrace the function of brands. People are busy and are bombarded with thousands of choices ranging from very high involvement [where to work, who to marry] to very low involvement [apple or pear?]. Well-known brands reduce confusion because people know what to expect. We know how many slices of gherkin to expect on a McDonald’s burger, or which hotels pride themselves on comfortable beds. We don’t have to ask ourselves such questions so effectively the risk is removed when we go for the safe bet. Consistency is key to managing expectations.

B2B brands matter more

In B2B marketing, the client is often not your only concern. Your client is trusting you to provide a product or service to their customers or end-users so in many ways, you’re a temporary custodian of their brand. When you cut out the marketing department and provide clients or prospects with DIY decks, videos or word documents laden with clipart that look like they’ve been produced by a teenage neighbour, it dilutes both your messaging and your brand. The person might be happy to receive your homemade ‘how-to’ document, or whatever content, quickly. Afterward, in the cold light of day, they might begin to wonder if they’re churning out these mickey mouse documents with fuzzy logos and indiscriminate fonts to us, what might they send to our customers? Will they abuse our logo inside unformatted word documents? Will they be producing materials that don’t adhere to our brand guidelines? How will this make us look if we don’t have control over the content our suppliers send to our users? When somebody starts thinking about whether something makes their company look bad, what they’re thinking is ‘will it make me look bad?

Businesses don’t like risks

Don’t make it easy for your competitors by giving prospects a reason to remove you from consideration because your brand is all over the shop. So, if you’re a “well-meaning” colleague who is ‘just trying to help’, then my advice to you would be to submit a request then leave it to the professionals.

[Photo by from Pexels]

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