Rules to Better Branding - 16 Rules
Branding is the key to success. In the cluttered global market, your company's brand is the way the outside world perceives your product or service. Many business problems revolve around poor branding: your clients might think you're too small for a job, or not technically capable, or charge too much. Common customer grievances could be alleviated by a positive brand image.
Branding isn't necessarily tangible. It touches the emotive side of human behavior - you feel, see, or relate to a brand. But because it has such power it needs to be managed in any organization, no matter how big or small.
Here's a series of branding rules that govern how we believe branding should work.
Think about McDonalds and you will see the yellow arches, in the shape of an "M". Think of Nike and the swoosh is the first image in your mind.
It doesn't have to take millions of dollars and 15 marketing consultancies to come up with a great logo, but make sure you get a professional designer to make it.
The characteristics you should be after:
- Simple - Follow solid basic design principles, such as proportion and symmetry, coherent fonts and matching colors
- Versatile - Your logo will eventually end up on different mediums, and it must work well in all kinds of situations
- Relevant - Represent the company
- Memorable - Be unique
If you follow these principles, people should be able to look at your logo from a distance and know which company it's from. The best trademarks end up cemented into the minds of individuals worldwide.
Some examples of great logos:
- Twitter - the small flying blue bird makes an instinctive correlation to tweeting
- Mini - the mini "wings" logo is simple and easily recognizable
- Canon - the font of the logo simple and is tweaked with only a slight tilt
It is very important to remember that your logo should be consistently displayed wherever your company promotes itself.
The start point of your branding is the logo. From there everything the company produces or owns should "feel" like it comes from your company. When you walk by a pile of documents on a desk, you should recognize that it's from your company. It's not just plonking the logo everywhere.
These are things to keep in mind for good branding:
- Web Fonts - E.g. At SSW we use Open Sans
- Print Fonts - E.g. At SSW we use Segoe UI
- Websites View SSW Web References as an example of good branding instructions for websites
- Email signatures
- Business Cards
- Flyers, catalogues and other promotional printing
- Office façade and interior decor
- Documents, invoices and proposals
- Others, like coffee mugs, plastic bags etc
You should help designers to find stuff in your Intranet:
It's perfectly normal that a logo starts to look outdated in over decades, so it needs a refresh. In this case, you should aim to keep the most recognizable characteristics of the old logo, so people will automatically know it's the same company when they first see the new logo.
You should spend the extra dollars to ensure that you get nice cards and your employees are proud of them. That way they will give them away at every handshake, which is fantastic free advertising for your company.
Email signatures are a great way of adding some advertising and branding. You should always use a nice email signature for external emails . Internally, you shouldn't use any or just use a short one (just your name or initials).
Full email signatures are great when they have:
- A little branding and advertising (can be a tagline or company news), so people know instantly who it is from
- Your phone number (in international format - it's important to add the country code so people from all around the world can easily add you to their contacts - as per Do you know the right format to show phone numbers?)
- Your company website link (e.g. www.ssw.com.au/)
- Your work-related social media and blog link
- Your position
- Your location (city/country) where you are based
Mobile signature are not easily customized so they can be simpler.
Use the "mobile signature" when sending emails from your phone.
Get Outlook for Android
Figure: Bad example - This default signature sucks
Thanks, Adam www.ssw.com.au | +61 4 1985 1995
Figure: Good example – Add your name, URL and your phone number
PC Long Signature
Use the complete "long signature" when sending a new email or appointment to a client.
This is created in HTML and goes well on emails with Word used as the email editor. Include some product advertising, like what's new on your monthly newsletter. It should have the company colors.
However, you shouldn't use your long signature on every sent email. It's recommended to have a simpler version for internal emails and appointments:
PC Short Signature
Use a really short signature (your first name or initials) or no signature at all in internal emails as people already know who you are.
Note: You can see Ulysses using this rule in practice, along with other best practices, on this short demonstration video.
How to set it up in Outlook
- Open Microsoft Outlook and go File | Options
- Click the "Mail" tab as seen below
- Click on "Signatures..." and add in your signatures
How to set it up in OWA
- Open OWA (e.g. http://mail.northwind.com/owa)
- Click "Options" on the top right side.
- Go Settings | Mail and make following changes:
How to set it up in Office 365
- Open Outlook in Office 365 (http://outlook.office.com/mail/inbox)
- Click the "Settings" cog on the top right corner of the Window
- Click on “View all Outlook settings” at the bottom of the Settings panel
- In the "Settings" window that pops up, go to: Mail | Compose and reply.
- Add your email signature and click "Save"
Warning: Unfortunately you need to setup up your signature in Outlook and OWA. There is no way to share this.
SSW Only: You can automatically have your Outlook signature changed on sign-in via a script. See https://github.com/SSWConsulting/LoginScript.
At SSW, after consulting, the second tier of our business are the software products. It should be obvious, as soon as our software is run, which company built the application. And more than just plonking the logo in the corner - the app should be recognizable even if the logo has been taken away.
Here are some of the basics of our software:
- Company logo on footer and credits
- Product logo on top of main screens (the different software and products logos should be consistent with each other)
- Consistent colors and fonts throughout the whole application
The setup and software icon for your applications should also be branded.
If you have many products, keep them consistent.
Think of a sporting event and it's likely that you can think of a sponsor for the event. For example:
- Australian Iron Man Series - Uncle Toby's
- Formula 1 - Valvoline, Ferrari
- Wimbledon - Rolex
The list goes on...
What this highlights is a company's ability to successfully partner their brand with events that their target market either attend or watch. Though on a much smaller scale, every business should apply this same principle. So we say if you're going to hold any events that are geared towards your target market - like a user group, make sure there's some branding at the event. Here are some examples of how we brand our user group:
- You should have a promotional sign
- Any presentations should use a standard template
- You should use branded plastic bags
- Evaluation forms should have clear branding
When it comes to branding events, you need to remember that it's often the little things that make the biggest difference. That evaluation form or gift bag that you gave out to someone at one of your events could land in the hands of one of your biggest clients in the future, so be diligent and consistent.
Your people are a huge part of what makes your company awesome or unique, so you should use this to your advantage by asking them to be your walking spokespersons and/or billboards. Branding your employees is especially important at events such as conferences, user groups and client meetings. A simple way to do this is to wear branded shirts or t-shirts every day.
If you wear a collard shirt, your corporate uniform should be simple and stylish - don't forget that your branding can be subtle and effective at the same time.
Also remember that uniforms don't have to be boring or uncomfortable, but they do need to represent who you are as a company. If you decided to do something fun, pop culture t-shirts are always a popular choice, particularly at conferences, but you should take great care to make sure that the message aligns with your corporate image. If you nail this, your employees will love to wear your t-shirts to work and out in the general community, adding to your exposure.
Figure: Good Example - Some of our Sydney team wearing different branded shirtOf course, another great way of promoting your company via your staff is on their social media accounts. You can encourage your staff to update their social media bio's to include their role and the company they work for, plus the website if there are enough characters for it.Wherever your employees gather in large numbers, ensure they come branded.
Figure: Good Example - Your employee profile on social media can also be branded
Branded Plastic Bags should be used for giveaways, and people within the office who want an extra bag to carry things to client site or home. This provides free marketing especially when the employee catches public transport home. It is a win-win as the person gets free carry bag, and we get free marketing.
You should remember that any point of contact leaves an impression on clients or customers so even the answering service on your phones should be taken into consideration. If you have a mobile phone which is used for work purposes.
It's recommended that you use a standard message like this:
"Hi, you've reached Adam Cogan from SSW. If you can leave your name, number and a short message I'll get back to you as soon as I can, thanks!"
Here's an example of how it should sound.
How often are you sitting at your desk typing away and have an open cup of tea or coffee or glass of water sitting right next to your computer? Do you know how much liquid it takes to kill your computer? The answer is not much; some of our developers found this out the hard way and on more than one occasion. There is an alternative though, which if in the event spillages occur limits the amount of liquid being released. Travel safety mugs and sports water bottles are a great way of protecting your computer from unwanted damage from spillage.
They also make a fantastic gift to clients, which is an opportunity for you to have a constant reminder of your business in their face and their clients.
Give your clients branded Travel Mugs and Sports Water Bottles as a way of saying thanks to our clients for engaging our services. We also use them for ourselves in the office to protect our own computers. The minimal outlay for these items can literally save you thousands and could potentially start earning you money too.
You should take every chance you get to put your logo on things.
Branding your assets is one more thing that you can do to spread your brand to the world. For example, if you provide your team with laptops, it's nice to have those laptops branded with your business logo, so they can be seen when they visit a client.
Basically, you can have that on any asset owned by your business. Items like monitors, laptops and computers branded with a sticker with your logo are all opportunities for more branding.
For items like laptops, it can also be a good idea to tape your business card below the sticker so it can be returned to you if you lose it.
Using branded stickers on coffee cups is a great way to promote your brand at events, conferences, training seminars and other functions. It is a cost-effective way to make a lasting impression about your brand.
You can still create immediate brand recognition even when it's not applicable to use your full company logo. This can be achieved by taking symbols or motifs out of your main logo and using them in your branding material.
For example, the SSW has 4 little coloured square as motifs within the logo, and these squares can be used without the rest of the logo text.
LinkedIn is the main business and employment-oriented social networking service available. It's important to keep it up-to-date and link it to your company's services.