Think of your brand as an athlete. You need it to do more than simply burst on the scene with a single spectacular display of energy—you need it to endure and outperform all the others. The key is planning ahead and staying limber. The following tips can help give you the edge, even when others have thrown in the towel:
A brand style guide is a quick, all-in-one resource that contains your mission statement, key positioning, and design parameters. If done correctly, it also helps you set goals and overcome obstacles while honing your technique and agility. For example:
Colorblindness can limit performance. It’s ok to define your color palette beyond the two basic colors of your logo, so think in terms of accents and choose color families that complement your foundational hues. As long as you provide sensible guidelines, you will give your brand more tools to succeed.
Put your best font forward. Obviously you should pick a font capable of handling a range of weights for all your heavy lifting. However, you will also want to support this muscle by bringing other fonts into the mix in order to help you respond to a variety of settings from online to print. This not only prevents fatigue, it helps make your brand even stronger.
Focus on thinking fast on your feet. The strongest brands on the market are constantly building on their visual vocabulary without losing the core of their presence. Target is an excellent example of a brand with a great deal of versatility. But no matter what the campaign, there’s always the signature bull’s eye to tie everything together.
Today’s consumers are much more sophisticated than those of the past. As a result, your media strategies should extend your reach by presenting your brand in new and unexpected ways— beyond the standard print, broadcast, and Web. Case in point: Though you might be selling Bundt cakes at a brick and mortar bakery, you could leverage the power of YouTube by creating a video parody titled “I Like Big Bundts”—integrating it with traditional print and possibly even outdoor elements. Then, of course, there’s the “Big Bundts” fan page on Facebook and “Show Your Bundt” Flickr showcase.
While rules definitely have a place in brand consistency, sometimes they need to be broken. In fact, in order to compete, your brand may even have to bend the boundaries of convention during its rookie years. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by a single component, such a visuals. Instead, think in terms of bringing all the elements together—visuals, copy, tone, and more. By doing so, you allow your brand room to breathe and adapt. It will also keep your competitors on their toes.
Mistakes happen. But, it’s how you respond that makes all the difference. Almost everyone remembers the 1982 Tylenol tampering scandal. But, fast thinking and a commitment to their consumers helped see them through. First, they did everything they could to react quickly and reassure customers of their commitment to consumer health. Then when Tylenol was restocked on store shelves, they introduced the tamper-proof seal that is now a staple on every over-the-counter medicine.
Life, tastes, trends, cultures—they’re all unpredictable. The best you can do is give your brand the strength to continually build momentum and the versatility to respond to a constantly changing playing field. Of course, like any legend, your brand will also need to stay true to its roots—your customers—because there’s nothing like having your fans with you every step of the way.