Why Do You Need A Brand Guide?

nike logo

Here’s an exercise, write down all the things about your company, service, or product that you want it to communicate to your core audience. What are you promising? How do you want people to feel about you? What is your mission, vision, core values, emotional appeal? How do you want to be perceived?

Now, pour all of that into a very unique and specific “mark”—something that is instantly recognizable and represents all that you are.

A brand is the collection of a company’s/product’s attributes. A brand guide, therefore, is the rulebook to clearly define those attributes. It includes a logo, but it’s not just a logo. A brand guide includes all the very tangible elements such as colors, fonts, voice/tone, mission, vision, core values, etc.

But a brand is more than just an identity—it’s an outward expression of a promise.

A brand guide must also illuminate those intangible characteristics of The Promise your brand imparts.

>Emotions: That little robin’s egg blue box will bring her tears of happiness.

>Empowerment: That swoosh on the sneakers will give me confidence to become a better athlete.

>Surety: Those golden arches will provide a fast meal at a cheap price.

>Timeliness: That pizza will be delivered in 30 minutes or less.

The list of brand characteristics goes on and on… knowledge, value, innovation. When your audience recognizes your mark and understands the promise that it conveys, then you begin building trust, loyalty, engagement, and meaning.

So, why do you need a brand guide?

Because your brand is systemic. Every person in your organization must live and breathe the brand. Your brand guide is the authoritative primer to provide consistency for everything.

>Print collateral

>Website

>Marketing strategy

>Packaging

>Advertising

>Social media presence

>Paint color on the walls

>Furniture in the rooms

>“Hold” music on your phone system

>Everything

At Toolbox Studios, we make it our business to fully understand your promise. Our Branding Process includes discovery, design, development/production, implementation, and evaluation. If you need a brand, a brand refresh—or if you have a brand but don’t have a brand guide—we can help you. That’s our promise.

Rebranding Your Company’s Image

neon sign

Think of this scenario, you just purchased a company that has been established for years.  They have a set brand and a specific message being shown, but you don’t like it.  You want to totally change how people see the company while keeping the logo that has been well recognized for years.  In this situation, a rebrand is something that should really be considered.  A rebrand is a complete redesign on a company’s brand, it consists of changing how the company is represented and what the brand stands for.  A rebrand requires a long process, bigger budget and hours of research and design.  Rebranding does not always require a  demolition of the logo, in fact, most rebrands consist of creating a new message.  While changing the imagery and delivery.  But when do you know you need a rebrand?  This blog will explain a couple situations that would lead to a rebrand.

Today’s leading companies work hard to have brands that stand out above all others which is crucial in a competitive market.  Rebrands can help companies to be distinct, just by saying something new, fresh, and creative can give your company the competitive edge you need to distinguish yourself.  Consumers like to see new things, when a company relies on a message that is old and not up to date people get bored and your company can become invisible.  To have a good brand means to have a good message and that message needs to target the right people.  A great brand can really help point your company at a specific demographic.  I think that staying ahead of the new generations in terms of branding is smart.  It can open the door to untapped audiences looking for fresh hip businesses.  I myself am part of that next generation and I can understand that a young consumer does not want to be caught up in the past.  They are looking for what’s the newest on the market and a modern rebrand could be just what they are searching for.

Unfortunately, sometimes a rebrand isn’t always a positive decision made by a company.  There are times where a business needs to disassociate with a negative image built around their brand.  Whether it was a nasty legal issue, bad reviews, or possibly a company’s reputation of bad business, a rebrand can leave behind the negativity.  You know your business is great, well run, and positive, but the consumer doesn’t see the good work you are doing.  They look at what they can see and if your brand is tainted with negative connotations a rebrand can change consumer’s perspective of what your company represents.

Your brand is reflection on you and the work you do, why not make it the best you can?  Rebranding can work wonders on getting you noticed as well as help you dial in to the right demographic.  A rebrand lets you establish a new, positive, and modern message.  Whether you are trying to say something new or trying to stop an off-putting reputation a brand is the voice of your company, hopefully its speaking the right language.

To Refresh Or Not To Refresh?

branding strategy

In today’s ever-changing marketplace, your business needs to demonstrate that it’s in step with the times as well as your customers .  A  refresh is one way to make sure to keep your brand from appearing stale and musty.

A brand refresh retains your brand equity, but opens the door to new opportunities for other brand messages you want to convey.  A refresh has a visual connection to the original brand, but focuses more on your current audience, voice, and products.  A refresh should help elevate your brand.  Google’s refresh is a great example. In 2015 they changed from the 1999 logo because it had become outdated and no longer accurately represented the company.  A new, more contemporary logo was created that spoke to Google’s evolving audience and capabilities.  The key to Google’s successful refresh was recognizing that they ran risk of looking or becoming passe. Today, adjusting is competing and if it makes sense for your business, a refresh could be the perfect adjustment.

Having the capability to evolve with the changes of the consumer is right on track with what a refresh is trying to accomplish.  LEGO is a brand that has made a science out of it.  As a company that started in 1939 they’ve been able to keep with changing times for nearly 80 years.  Originally LEGO marketed to children and parents and saw the adult as an irrelevant market.  But they soon realized that adults were taking a new interested in their beloved childhood toys.  LEGO added new products, adding 5,000-piece model sets as well as updating their digital marketing.  They also created videogames and movies that has earned them around $400 million.  Updating your products is a great way for your already established brand to find new interests from consumers who were waiting on a change.

At Toolbox Studios, we look at refreshes as a way to elevate your brand to new heights.  We understand the value of having a enduring brand, but it should be ready to evolve when the moment arrives.  Refreshing does not have to be a drastic change in your brand or company. Although a complete a rebrand is sometimes necessary under certain circumstances.  A refresh is a minor, yet noticeable, change that can potentially lead to a new audience without sacrificing the customers that already know and respect your brand. A strategic brand refresh can brush away the cob webs and shine a new light on the message your business wants to communicate.

Multiple Touches In Your Marketing Strategy

consumer behavior

We all know in the past 20 years huge changes have occurred to the internet, marketing, and especially to the consumer. But for those who are not ahead of the “learning curve” with ever-changing technology often struggle to reach the modern consumer. Nowadays, people receive information in various ways like blogs, Social Media, etc. It is a marketer’s job to touch all bases to place ads and compelling messages in arms reach of those receiving the information. Marketing strategies must be executed and tracked to collect data to observe what is working and what is not. The catch is understanding that the goal of every step of the strategy is a closed sale.

Without marketing analytics, it can be challenging to decipher if every element in the strategy being used is truly working. The type of purchase or item being sold plays a huge part in the response time for the consumer. Frequently, we are asked why we “touch all bases” if some are not showing results or generating leads. That is when we look into what is being advertised. A consumer looking at their phone and seeing an ad for a pizza would generate a fast response as opposed to a consumer seeing an ad for a new car. But that does not mean that the car ad on the phone did not work. That same person could go home that day look in the mail and see a postcard advertising the same car seen online, creating another layer onto shaping the decision for that consumer. Multiple touches ensure that a potential client becomes familiar with your brand.

Looking at the part of the strategy that generated the lead is fun, the real work is done when looking at the layers built to persuade the consumer into making a decision. Especially with a business to business marketing approach, it can take time for that business owner to choose your company over another. They want to know that you want their business and that you are willing to reach them on any platform to show them that your company is the right fit for them.

Work With Clients to Produce the Best Ideas.

pantone books

I recently sat down with one of the Toolbox designers to talk about his time spent working in the industry.  He explained to me that for him, design is art with strategy and purpose.  It is about expressing what the client’s company is trying to say, but in way that speaks more to their consumers.

Toolbox has worked with a variety of companies offering a wide variety different products and services. Thanks to this experience and service, Toolbox is able offer its clients a one-stop shop and be a single source for all their marketing needs.

From time to time,  a clients has no idea which direction their brand needs to go.  That’s why it is crucial to build a good relationship with the client, find out what they want, and read between the lines.  Transparency and collaboration are very important in making the client feel comfortable with the concepts being created.  Let the client know what and why you’re doing something and allow them to get a clear idea on the project.  Collaboration lets the designer and the client work with together and gives the designer inspiration of what needs to be said and how to say it.  When that’s established, it’s time for the designer to tune into the client’s thoughts and desires and turn them into compelling messages that resonate with the right audience

The key to creating a design concept that clients appreciate and approve requires several steps.  Collaboration is key, you can’t sell them on an idea if they don’t know or why you’re pursuing a particular creative path.  Listen closely,  but also try to discover information and directions that may not have been considered. Always try to see into the client and then work to come up with creative that is unexpected, yet manages to be on target.  Ultimately, it’s up to the client. And they’ve been known to say no to the best of concepts.  It doesn’t mean you failed, it simply means you should rethink, redo, and never stop trying.

Finding Your Target Audience

target market

Finding the right audience can move mountains when trying to make your company an industry leader.  Narrowing down your audience ensures that the ideal content is exposed to the right people.  It gives your business a chance to custom fit content to the needs of the readers.  When both of those are being done conversion percentage is bound to increase.  Relevant content is only relevant when it is directed to the right people, and that content combined with a social media strategy that gives exposure to it can be a smart way to find out exactly who is listening.  Connecting your content to your product makes what you are sharing credible for your readers and could generate higher conversions.

Sometimes peering into your own company can reveal a lot about what you need to know about your audience.  Questions like: What problems does your business fix?  What are your current customers like? Who is your competition?  What can a consumer have to gain by choosing your company? Once you answer these questions, it should show how and what your content should contain, who will read it, what your competition is doing, and why your audience should choose you.  Finding your targeted audience is no easy task. It requires a deep and detailed process to find exactly who your business needs to appeal to in order to succeed.  The key is to find an ideal customer by going beyond asking questions about age, race, religion, gender, and location.  The more questions you can produce the better your search will go.  Narrowing down your search gives great feedback on what works well with your marketing strategy.  As you brainstorm to find new ways to narrow your search, a new audience may become relevant to the techniques in your strategy.

Your audience is out there. What stood out to me is that the audience is looking and listening, and it is up to the business to find out what they are responding to.  Remember to consider which content worked best.  Content such as a blog is a great way for your business to not only connect with an audience. Using ranked keywords in your blogs attracts customers by matching the blog’s words with the words in the consumer’s search.  Social media can prove to be very efficient at getting personal with the consumer.  With all the social media networks, companies can look at people’s likes, dislikes, and emotions in an instant.  Polls, pictures, articles, and links can all be used on social media to connect with an audience.  If information on certain posts are attracting bigger than average hits, you could possibly reverse engineer the process to find what was drawing them into your site.  Finding an audience can be difficult, however companies that do the job well benefit from their labor and get a better return on their investment.

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