tina-aboutIn business, your brand is “everything” and a strong brand is rewarded with loyal customers who help promote your product or service.

1. Write your mission statement. This should include why you are passionate about your product or service. Create some short tag lines that simplify this statement for use in print and digital materials.

Do you want to be a leader in your industry? You are competing with your fair share of opposition – each out there yelling to the world why they are the best.  Your mission statement should clearly state the intentions of your business. Be realistic and optimistic at the same time.

There are four key items to look for in your mission statement: Inspirational, Value, Reality and the Specifics of your business.

And be short and sweet here – not long and rambling. Try to be concise.

2. Have a professional design your logo. Your logo is the key to your brand identity so take the time to make it just right. Look at other logos you like and share your vision with your designer.

A professional designer can make everything make sense for you. Your image is Key to a successful business, it should relay reliability, a polished look and feel, colors that mean something to you and your customers. The first impression is your most important. With a professional design team behind you, people are more likely to pick up your materials, build loyalty with your brand and most importantly – remember you.

Design firms work long and hard on their reputations for success. A professional team will equal trust in them to do a great job for you. When they do a great job you get results, and you get them right away. You want people to trust your brand, so you need to trust and rely on the professionals to advice you on the best that you can be.

3. Select your color palette and fonts that will be used in all business collateral. It is always good to select three to five colors, and both a serif and sans serif font family to work with. This is best done by a professional design firm.

Make sure you always use the same fonts in the same ways on your materials. The Uptown Studios logotype is the font Futura, but we use Helvetica in all of our text and letters. This helps everyone at our studio do the same things, the same way, so when you see something about Uptown Studios, it becomes recognizable – and perhaps “memorable” like “EASY, FUN and POPULAR!” – one of the Uptown Studios branded messages.

Once you have an approved logo designed you want to pull everything together with the use of colors. You should have a style guide that will help your team use only the approved colors. This will help to keep your team on the same page. Encourage everyone to stick with your approved colors and fonts.

Your colors are an extension of your brand. Make sure you use them consistently and do not introduce new colors into the mix. If you have a professional firm create your look and feel, they have put some thoughtful consideration into the fonts they recommend, the colors they use and how they use them together and the photos that they are recommending. Be consistent – don’t make too many changes, people are quick to forget you after all the brand loyalty you work so hard to gain. Listen to your clients – are your materials speaking to them?

4. Make everything look like it is coming from “YOU”. Create all your business collateral materials, business cards, forms, social media channels, brochures etc. with a consistent look and feel. Now we are talking about your Brand. Manage your brand, don’t let people in that want to make changes or add things to your logo – that’s yours – protect it. Every time you hand someone one of your marketing materials, make sure it represents you at the highest level. That may be the first impression of you. Remember it’s your reputation.

5. Be consistent. People grow to trust a brand and are more likely to recommend a business that is consistent in its message and visual imagery. The power of a great brand identity is in the details. Maintaining fonts, colors and logo integrity is imperative to your success.

Brand consistency is all around us – everywhere. Stop lights, pedestrian crossings, exit signs, emergency vehicles. They are all recognizable to us because they have been branded. All we are talking about is keeping the look and feel of your business consistent, ALL of the time.

Once you have an approved logo designed you want to pull everything together with the use of colors. You should have a style guide that will help your team use only the approved colors. This will help to keep your team on the same page. Encourage everyone to stick with your approved colors and fonts.

Finally, to sum it all up:

Make sure your visuals correspond with your identity.

Basic elements should always be the same, such as your logo, typeface, colors and graphic style. These are your constants. If you keep these things recognizable, it gives you room to create distinctive collateral aimed at your target audience.

Establish your message and voice.

What is your business’ mission and principles? Your company should have a personality. Create a message you believe correctly conveys your business. Make a list of descriptive words that you believe accurately portray your mission, and apply these words and themes in your messaging. Use this voice across all platforms, including print and digital materials as well as social media in order to maintain a cohesive message.

Remain consistent across all platforms.

There are plenty of places to display your brand’s information. It is important to have the same information, look, feel and message across each of them. Social media is one of the most important marketing components because of the ability to share information quickly and easily. Be sure that your Facebook cover photo, posts and profile images match in theme with your tweets, photos and background images on Twitter – or any other networks you use. This will ensure your brand is recognizable no matter where customers see it.

Standardizing your brand helps maintain consumer trust. When customers become familiar with a business because of its identifiable messaging and visuals, they create positive associations with that business and can remember it more easily.

Tina Reynolds
By Tina Reynolds
Tina Reynolds is president of Uptown Studios, Inc. and has been running her own design firm since 1976. She is the community face of Uptown Studios and her blog entries are directed to business owners ready to make their materials, Easy, Fun and Popular.