Branding All of Your Materials Is Important… by sandra evans of se&a
You’ve paid a firm to redo your brand and “look and feel” and web site. Now the rest of your materials from letterhead to business cards, envelope, newsletter, trade show graphics, email blasts and posters around your office, billing statements and invoices have the “old brand.”
You are reluctant to spend the money to update these materials but you know it sends a disjointed message to your customers and colleagues about your business to not have consistency across all of your materials.
1) First conduct a brand audit. Either have someone in your office look over all of your materials and make a list and prioritize the items as 1,2, or 3, or have the agency make a list of materials that you are likely to need. Then the agency can provide an estimate for to retool your materials with the new brand and look and feel. Possibly the agency can create some of the materials and provide templates for the others so that an in house person can finish the rest. But read number 2 below carefully.
2) Beware of handing off a new corporate identity (logo) and brand look and feel to your in house department to save money. Often the in house department is stretched too thin and this extra assignment may not be given the attention it deserves or the in house department may be more of a art production department and not true brand experts. It makes sense to have the agency that created the brand and look and feel to at least create the most important materials that your clients will see.
3) People are very brand savvy and know good design from fair or poor. Taking great design and handing off to a department that is too busy or not experienced will undo the good work that you paid for. In the long run, you are better off having the agency create at least the most important materials.
4) Consider that your brand reflects who your business is today and where the company is going. The old brand may reveal a past history or roots that are not at all applicable to your new direction. Your brand reflects who you are now and where you are going aspirationally.
5) When positioning your company in the marketplace, your brand is like the clothes you wear to an interview, the way you present yourself, your speaking voice and the words you choose. If your clothes don’t match, if they are outdated, if they show you aren’t savvy enough to understand your target audience (the interviewer in this case) you won’t likely get the job. The same holds true for your brand. Customers will move on to a brand that they can “relate to.”
6) Consider four brands for the same thing: care insurance companies. Geico, All State, Progressive, State Farm and einsurance. Which catches your eye first? You are at a far greater advantage if you are one of the companies that are contacted first. You are more likely to win the business or customer. This why your company needs to have your materials reflect one brand and image. If you can’t afford to do all of the materials at once, then talk to your agency and they may be able to create a hybrid plan whereby they create some and guide your in house department to create the rest. Or the agency handles the master pieces and the in house department uses these as guidelines for the rest of the materials.
7) One of the biggest issues we see is that companies rely on in house talent to save money for projects but often they don’t have the time or experience and the project is out of scope for the team. Having an agency as your partner is the best approach, at least to establish your initial look and feel. They are also interested in putting your best foot forward. And the agency is interested in a long term relationship with your company so they may offer suggestions to work with you to accomplish the goal of “brand unity” in your organization in a way that works best for both of you. Their success is tied to your success. 8) Remember the old ad slogan: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” This holds true for your brand and everything that consumers touch, the website, business cards, invoices, email, envelopes, etc. Your brand is also your customer service and sales approach and how the “voice” you use in your written materials impacts your prospective clients. If your organization’s brand promise is built around service, for example, then your materials’ look and feel, content, service and sales staff and answering machine message needs to impart customer service. How your brand can be extended beyond the visual brand are topics that will be discussed in future blogs. Contact us to help you rebrand your company or to work with you to redo your materials, website, business system or other materials. We hope to become your trusted partners working with you to set up an appropriate strategy for implementation and success and to provide ongoing design support. sandra evans founder and creative director se&a firstname.lastname@example.org For more information visit: http://www.sandraevansandassociates.com
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