Practical Applications of Brand Standards

Nov 19, 2015 | Advertising, Brand, Business, Content Marketing, Customers, Graphic Design, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Small Business

Does everything need to follow brand standards? For those of us in the marketing field, this is an easy question. The answer is yes—you need to stick to the colors, design styles, and other brand standards that represent your organization. Your ads should be consistently recognizable. You can’t afford confusion in today’s world of overexposure to ads.

I’m always amazed when I walk into a business that obviously hasn’t invested time or money in a good marketing strategy—often shown by their disjointed advertisements. Most of the culprits are financial institutions lacking a centralized marketing team, mid-sized businesses that have grown very quickly, and local service organizations that don’t see the value in investing money in marketing. If your organization fits one of the above molds, keep reading.

Here are three key tips for you to consider for your next advertisement:

  1. Use Company Colors Only
    Here’s some advice based on a real observation: If your corporate colors are blue and gold, do not print a handout on lime green paper. I understand that the color stands out and therefore may get attention. Actually, let me clear that up—no, it doesn’t. It appears cheap and looks like you printed it on your laser printer. Chances are it’ll get ignored. 
    However, if you print a properly branded piece on nice stock (perhaps powder-coated paper), it will stand out and still represent you as a quality partner.
  2. Ditch the Clip Art
    Here’s another example I’ve actually seen. While fall is a great time to promote special offers leading up to Black Friday and Christmas, leaf clip-art won’t have the appeal you want. Unfortunately, clip art seems like a quick and inexpensive solution. But, people will know you made it yourself in Microsoft Word, rather than having it designed properly. Bring in a qualified graphic designer or find a marketing partner who can design a memorable ad to positively represent your company’s identity.
  3. Hold to Company Fonts
    Your brand standards should include approved fonts and their appropriate applications. Sure, there are a million eye-catching fonts out there. But, if you haven’t used them previously (or worse, they are fonts like Comic Sans) consumers can be confused or distracted and not associate the ad with your company. Avoid fonts that are busy, use lots of serifs, or are difficult to read (e.g. script fonts). Recruiting an experienced design partner to help lay out your ads is invaluable.
  4. Bonus Tip: Deliver Clear Messaging
    If your message is supposed to resonate with a prospective customer, it must be clear and concise. Don’t bury your deal under extra text or distracting images. Studies show that human attention spans are shrinking—some say they’re as short as eight seconds. With print media in particular, you may have as little as two seconds of attention. Make your offer immediately obvious and your call-out text compelling and simple. Whether you want readers to visit a website or stop by one of your locations, ensure that the next step is logical and convenient.

With all ads (especially printed ads), you have mere seconds to communicate who you are, what you are offering, why your customers should care, and what they should do next. Be sure you use consistent colors, fonts, and words so that readers can quickly associate the ad with your company and not be hindered by clutter. Remember the all-important aspect of appearance and reputation: Don’t let your advertisement seem cheap or put together last-minute.

No matter which of your ads people see, they should intuitively know it’s from your company. Over time, branding can subliminally reinforce consumers’ understanding of who you are and what you represent.

Follow these tips, and I think you’ll see an increased take-rate in your all of your marketing pieces. If you find yourself needing a marketing/design partner, get in touch with us. We’d be glad to explore creative design approaches with you.

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