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The News Chair

Every Brand Needs a Guide

Brand Guide

Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

One of the things I most often turned to in my journalism career was a stylebook. These stylebooks act as a guide for writers and editors so their usage of language is consistent from story to story. The Associated Press guide is generally considered the standard.

They cover everything from what job titles get capitalized — sorry, realtors, you’re not one of them! — to how to abbreviate Montana.

Branding guidelines are their counterpart in the marketing sphere, but they cover so much more than just language. Also referred to as brand rules or style guides, branding guidelines are most critical in determining how a company’s image is represented visually and graphically.


Consistency is key

Tim Coulon

Tim Coulon

Coles Marketing Vice President, Creative Tim Coulon said branding guidelines act as safeguards so best practices are always followed when a company’s logo, imagery or other visual element is shared with the public.

“Branding guidelines ensure a brand’s image is protected and portrayed consistently across all platforms — Web, brochures, print advertising, e-communications, billboards and other collateral,” he said.

A brand style guide gives clear directions for how things should look and how they should be created.


Guideline ingredients

Branding guidelines can vary from just a page or two showing the company’s logo and acceptable palette of colors, to entire books laying out what language can be used in any sort of outreach to the marketplace and target audiences.

Here are a few essential components for a brand style guide:

  • Logo – size and placement
  • Fonts
  • Colors
  • Web-specific elements

Other items commonly addressed include the company boilerplate, how to label subsidiary entities, typography to be used in additional circumstances, letterhead, PowerPoint presentations, social media guidelines and even how to compose a voicemail message.


Creating a new guideline

When a new company is born, or an existing one is undergoing a rebranding effort, it’s a good policy to draft a new branding guideline with input from all key levels of leadership. That way everyone is on the same page regarding messaging and imagery. It’s a way to be proactive and not rely on fixing mistakes after the fact.

“For a small business, it may be as simple as making sure the colors of your logo always come out right,” Coulon said. “Larger companies tend to have more involved branding guidelines, since they often use outside vendors and agencies for their outreach efforts. This way they can ensure brand continuity without having to reinvent the wheel each time.”

And branding guidelines should evolve as the brand does, giving space and freedom for new colors to be established, websites to be redesigned and print materials to be updated.

Need a branding guideline for your company? Coles Marketing has plenty of experience in creating a style guide to fit all your needs.


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Coloring Your Reaction to Marketing



When it comes to colors, I admit to being a stereotypical guy: I don’t really pay much attention.


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

Ask me to name the eye color of someone I interact with daily, and I’ll probably be stumped. When it comes to clothes, I dress from the ground up, picking from a small rotation of shoes, then selecting pants that match them, and finally a shirt that (I hope) goes with the rest.


But like a lot of people who don’t consciously spend a lot of brain power on color, we’re all subtly influenced by hue in most everything we see. And that includes marketing and advertising.


See it, feel it

The Logo Company has a terrific guide to how people react psychologically to color in logo design:


Yellow – Clarity and warmth (Brand examples: Best Buy, Subway)

Orange – Cheerful and confident (Fanta, Nickelodeon)

Red – Youthful and bold (Target, Nintendo)

Purple – Imaginative and wise (T-Mobile, Taco Bell)

Blue – Dependable and strong (Dell, Lowe’s)

Green – Growth and health (Whole Foods, Publix)

Gray – Calm (Apple, Hyundai)


As a result, it’s not surprising to find many medical/health companies utilizing blue in their marketing, while many oil and energy companies pick green to connote a sense of being friendly to the environment.


How to leverage the luminosity

Leo Widrich of Buffer has a good roundup on PR Daily about how best to leverage color in marketing. For example, if you’re pitching mainly to a female audience, favor purple and avoid gray, according to KISSmetrics. For men, try black and downplay purple. Both genders like blue and green, and both dislike brown and orange.


All this may sound like a bunch of hooey, but studies have proven the effect of color on marketing choices. HubSpot ran an experiment to see if the color of a button would affect conversion rates, and discovered that a red button got 21 percent more clicks than the same one in green.


Of course, color has less of an effect on certain people. Roughly eight percent of men have some degree of color blindness, and 0.5 percent of women. Mark Zuckerberg famously chose blue as the dominant shade for Facebook because that’s the color he sees best, being red-green colorblind.


Hue you gonna call?

At Coles Marketing, we have an experienced team of graphic and Web designers who know all about how color fits into brand strategy. Let us find the right shade for your marketing outreach!


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Brand Journalism Invests in Audience


There’s a lot of chatter about “brand journalism” these days and how it is supposedly reshaping the face of public relations. For business leaders who have just gotten their heads wrapped around the concept of content marketing, it may sound like the proverbial Next Big Thing that could be gone tomorrow.


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

Don’t fret; brand journalism is merely the next evolutionary step in the content marketing movement. Leading companies are reaching out to customers directly by using the tools and information delivery systems of traditional media.


Basics of brand journalism

What is brand journalism? Simply put, it’s when a company invests in content and becomes a provider of news. It means responding to the informational desires of your audience rather than trying to promote the marketing message that the CEO and board of directors wants to transmit.


This isn’t to say to give up on traditional marketing; but leave that messaging to existing advertising and outreach models. Instead, find what your customers are talking about and produce content to engage them.


Christopher Penn at Shift Communications urges companies to see themselves as a publisher or media company. Consider trying out a Twitter chat, or create a Flipboard magazine. And consider hiring some journalists, he says, because they can maintain the pace of producing high-quality content all the time.


“Brands are also realizing that they must capture their audiences’ attention, that they must take responsibility for the creation and maintenance of those audiences. Relying on the traditional media to do so at a time when traditional media is declining is folly at best,” Penn writes.


The new PR

Lisa Arledge Powell, president of MediaSource, boldly says that “brand journalism is the new PR.”


“The key to brand journalism is producing content that your audience actually wants to see,” Powell said in an interview with Ragan Communications.


For example, Powell says her company works with a lot of hospitals and has used brand journalism to produce patient success articles or topical stories (“5 Ways to Avoid the Flu”) that are of great interest to people concerned with health issues.


(We’ve already been doing something similar for our healthcare clients.)


Shane Snow, founder of Contently, says it short and sweet: “Be less self-centered.” It’s not about you, it’s about your audience, he writes.


Partner with the media

Over at Forbes, Lewis DVorkin says brand journalism is good for the news business, if they’re smart enough to get onboard and offer a vehicle for companies to reach their audience. He points out that Forbes’ own brand journalism effort, AdVoice, has recently been redubbed BrandVoice. In some cases, content produced through this model has ranked high on the list of most popular stories on Forbes.com.


BrandVoice, DVorkin writes, offers “a way for brands to use the same publishing tools I do to create, curate and distribute their expert content in a credible news environment.”


Whether companies partner with existing media outlets or find their own platforms to distribute their content, brand journalism is clearly not just a flash in the pan.


Need help producing insightful content that keys in on your audience’s interests? The Coles team boasts a number of journalists and brand experts on staff.


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