You’ve started your small business; you have your perfect logo, your website, you chose your social media outlets, produced your marketing material and have a plan… great!

What could be missing? Flow.

Remember that everything should work together. Let’s say you pile every piece of material representing your brand on top of a table- it should all ‘flow’- it should harmonize and it should be unified. You should be consistent in all aspects of your communication both internally and externally to avoid coming across as amateur or unorganized.

That being said; here are my top five areas of improvement to help you relay a cohesive brand identity:

1) Internal Branding

I believe that a brand starts from within your company’s walls. If you and the people representing you aren’t on the same page then why should a customer be?  For example: Why is John’s email signature written in neon green with no logo but Jane’s in written on a clip-art floral stationary in pink with the company logo. It seems insignificant but as an outsider looking in who may be communicating with multiple persons from your company- it looks unorganized. Get everyone on the same page with everything from email signatures to uniforms (if you have them) to the letterhead used.

Do you have a mission statement? Does everyone know it? It doesn’t hurt to have a go-to company handbook that can sum up who you are as a whole. It should be easy to understand and can include your mission statement, core values, elevator speech, company introduction, company history, the three words you would use to sum up your business and your five & ten year goals.

2) Your Colour Pallet

You picked your corporate colours for a reason, use them!

Every colour has a code (HEX, RGB, CMYK) Know your colour codes and use them throughout your material. You may not have a graphic designer so you may be printing your own material using ‘do it yourself’ sites. Every site will give you the option when designing to change the colours to a custom shade and that’s where your codes come in. Business cards, postcards, brochures, handouts- everything should be tailored to the pallet you chose. Keep the HEX, RGB, and CMYK codes on file because some programs/sites use specific codes.

3) Your Typeface.

Yep. Your font.

Am I getting a bit too finicky? Ok- let me clarify…I am not saying you peep over the shoulder of every employee and ensure they use Calibri size 12 but make sure that your marketing material sticks to a handful of typography choices to avoid a mish-mash of visual insanity. Less is more.

4) Create a Brand Guideline.

This outlines your brand permissions. How others can use your logo, slogan, tagline. What colours they can use. What your links to social media are- what your social do’s and don’ts are. Pretty much allows you to make the rules when it comes to others relaying your company information. An integral part of brand cohesiveness because it’s difficult to filter the way others perceive you/your company if you don’t give them instructions. (Unless you work with mind readers… they are the exception)

Now I am going to pick on those of you who have decided they needed a re-brand. A facelift, an update- a fresh start!

5) RE-BRAND: If you aren’t in it 100%, don’t do it.

So you updated your logo, changed your website but still use old invoices, order forms and uniforms. You decided you wanted a change but you have stock in the old style business cards so you are waiting for them to run out. Ahhhh but you bought 25,000 of them… yikes.

If you aren’t willing to follow through completely- please- just hold off until you are ready. Throw a proper re-launch and really get your new brands energy flowing! What is the point of half-heartedly starting anyway?

I will write more about the “Re-Brand” later on. I just wanted to graze the area- it fits into my top five brand identity issues.

Please feel free to add on to my list in the comments section below! I look forward to hearing what you think and getting your take on brand cohesiveness.

-Crystal Lengua-

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