As a digital marketer who largely focuses on telemetries and predictive analytics, I’m a strong advocate of hypothesis-based marketing campaigns. I spend a good amount of my professional time looking at large sets of numbers before and after a campaign to determine what’s worth repeating in future campaigns.
While many variables impact the success or failure of a campaign, one of the most common deciding factors is campaign design. I’m not referencing only the marketing channel mix or media buys and campaign rollout, but the actual imagery and voice of the campaign. Consistent messaging and visuals heavily impact the way a campaign is received and engaged with, so carefully building a marketing plan and ensuring a coherent voice is critical.
The most important marketing campaign you will ever run is one you will never stop running: brand awareness for your own business. Clearly declaring who you are and what you do will help customers understand and associate with your business. Letting your customers know what you sound like and what to expect from you will help them become comfortable and familiar with you, ultimately helping them make the decision to do business with you. To create a coherent voice for your business, you need to create a set of brand standards.
Here are a couple questions to guide you as you build your brand standards:
Who are you?
Identifying your organization’s purpose will guide everything you do. While this may sound like obvious advice, so many small businesses really miss the mark on understanding and communicating who they are.
In the interest of not turning away business early on, small businesses will over-extend themselves and their vision. Try to avoid doing this and stick to your core competencies when you talk about your company or advertise your visions and offerings. Identify your core competencies and create your Massive Transformative Purpose early on so you can simply and publicly articulate both.
What do you believe?
After establishing your identity comes Identifying the values your company has. What does your company associate with? Are you socially-minded? Community-minded? Do you believe in technological simplicity? Financial Responsibility?
Pick three to five values that best align with your company identify and reference them in your communications. Sticking to core values will help your audience know what to tone and topics to expect from you.
What do you sell?
Every girl crazy about sharp-dressed packaging, and your products/services need to fit in with your identity and beliefs. Aligning your product design and product roadmap with your overall values and images will not only help clients identify your work, but will help you create a consistent client experience with your brand.
Who is your community?
Where you do business often dictates the kind of business you can do. Understanding how you fit into your community will help you interact with people from all sides of your business. At Adder, we have a Kentucky First philosophy: while we definitely do business with out-of-Kentucky companies and have out-of-state clients, we try to source vendors and clients from our home first. Deciding how you interact with your immediate community will dictate the way you execute your marketing mix, and will heavily impact how your run your Adder Out of Home (OOH) and car wrap advertising.
Who are your clients?
The people you serve will make or break your business, so it’s hugely critical to identify the kind of people you’d like as your clients. Knowing the profiles of your existing and ideal client types will help you write messaging and create experiences that make sense to your audience. Furthermore, knowing your clients will greatly inform your product design and go-to-market strategy, as you should be creating for the people you serve.
What do you look like?
This is the part of branding everyone seems to know about, but few people seem to execute on well. Consistent imaging is key, y’all. Decide what colors, images and fonts represent your business, and keep your logo, website, emails, advertisements and campaigns images within the confines of that bank of colors, images and fonts.
Seriously, don’t do stuff in other colors with your name and logo on it or you’ll confuse people. Think about all the big brands you see every day: you know what an Apple or Geicoad looks like from a mile away, don’t you? That’s because they have a consistent visual language and they never deviate from it. Follow their lead if you want people to resonate with your brand.
One last word:
Do NOT break brand standards. Unless you’re Supreme and have an international army of hype beasts so obsessed with you that they’ll buy any delightfully wacky thing you’ve slapped your name on with or without your logo, you have to maintain a consistent identity to help people understand who you are. While you can update your brand standards as you grow and change, keeping a consistent voice will help clients know what to expect from you so that they feel comfortable doing business with you.