Is it the logo? Is it the amount of places you are on social media? Is it a fancy website with moving parts? Nope.
The key to looking professional is branding. Branding with a consistent, cohesive, attractive look to be exact. Solid branding means when someone sees your content, they recognize that it is likely from you because they already have a familiarity. We get this with consistent, repetitive messaging.
And I’m not just talking content. It also means it looks and speaks like your website and your social images and your content. The more familiar people are with your brand, the more likely they are to click on great information and offers.
Branding is what differentiates the smaller guys from the corporate machines, but you don’t have to have a big budget. You can do this within your own company, or get the help of a marketing consultant (like moi) to help you outline or complete the whole project. You’ll still need to put in a lot of info but a good consultant will offer the best fits for your business and mission statement. What does branding include:
You may be thinking, “Well ha Christina, I already have a logo!” Well that is a fantastic start. Now you’ll have to find branding that fits your logo, or if you wish update the logo. Many companies do this as times changes and styles change. They usually stay similar with just a minor uplift.
If you don’t have a logo yet, that’s fantastic too because you create the logo from understanding the branding. A logo should remind people of what you do or who you are. The start to associate it with your business, which is what it’s all about – brand recognition.
Usually in the logo portion of a branding guide, there is also examples of ways to use the logo and ways not to use the logo (stretch, shrink, crop). This helps if you ever contract out any design or marketing work or work with partners who will be placing your logo on their site.
Probably most overlooked, simple piece of branding is the colors that represent us. Colors say something specific to our unconscious so they are probably the most important piece in branding. There is this article in Entrepreneurs.com that has a great graphic of the marketing color wheel. Colors are scientifically proven to make us feel certain ways and your branding can take advantage of that.
Admit it – we are linked to colors. I can name a hundred brands right now and you could probably tell me their brand colors. It is essential to keep consistent colors. The best way is to get the exact hex code which can be used to identify the exact color each time and not guess.
The fonts of what you have to say, can often give the reader a certain tone of what they are reading. Do you want to YELL at them or have a cas’ convo? Do you want them to think you are the authority or their cheerleader? The shapes and curves of our lettering says a lot.
Brand guides usually include two to four types of font for different headers, quotes, italics, etc. There is usually only one that is used for the most of the content, with maybe a back-up if it is a hard font to get mass printers or partner websites to get.
The voice or tone
The voice is a two-step process. Whether you are an individual or a small business, you will need to find your voice. The voice follows along with the font, but offers the actual words. So how do you want to sound to your prospects and clients? What people are your target marketing in listening to? Is it a field that looks for the top expert or are they looking for support? Do they want to discuss and engage with you or just consume the content? Are they young or old?
Once you’ve defined the type of voice you want you can edit your website to ensure that is the voice you are using.
Social Image layouts
A new-comer to branding is having a consistent feel to your social images. It helps people connect it to your brand. Often there are a few options -some with images some without – but the font, colors and tone all follow the brand.
Overview of other information
Also in the branding guide is the mission statement so that we ensure everything seems cohesive. You may find an overview of the target audience so if anyone is reading it in the future, they know exactly who they are writing for and the type of voice they should be writing in.
A branding guide doesn’t have to cost thousands. It is an essential building block in creating a cohesive marketing strategy. Plus it put the professionalism in what you do. That is priceless.
Want help putting a branding guide together? I would love to help. I can point out key steps to building a brand that is professional while staying cohesive and consistent. We can assemble a professional guide and even create templates for you. Then whenever you hire someone, they’ll have all the info in one document.
Build a brand people will remember.