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
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.
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
- 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.Edit this post
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Though I doubt he meant it in that way, ol’ Bill Shakespeare may have been history’s first marketing branding guru.
His famous couplet from “Romeo and Juliet” alighted upon the truth that people respond more favorably to something when its name is pleasant or familiar. Would roses really have become the go-to bloom for romance if they were called strunkbiddles instead?
Coming up with the right title
One of the most exciting things we get to do from time to time here at Coles Marketing is help launch a new brand from the ground up – including coming up with a company name, tagline, logo, vision and mission statements, etc. We’ve done it for multi-billion-dollar international companies, hometown mom-and-pop stores and individual products and services.
It’s an exhilarating process, but also a daunting one. The key challenges are finding a company name that’s catchy, accurately describes what they’re all about, and — here’s the rub — hasn’t been taken yet.
Recently while brainstorming ideas for a new client, I came up with a name I thought was just perfect — and even better, the business owner loved it, too! But there were several hurdles we had to jump before locking it in.
What a name may cost
These obstacles included:
- Checking the proposed name against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if anyone had already filed for use of the name. No one had, so we were good.
- Searching a Web-hosting service like GoDaddy.com to find out if the preferred URL address — e.g., www.thesitename.com – was available. It was!
- Conducting a detailed Web search to see if another business was using the name.
Unfortunately, we failed this third test. Even though the other company hadn’t trademarked the name, was using a different website address and was located in another state, it was too similar in name and mission to take the risk of a lawsuit.
As the Wall Street Journal and others have noted, start-up companies often face legal troubles in selecting a moniker — from simple cease-and-desist letters from attorneys to long, protracted court cases that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. This is an area where you really want to be on solid ground.
With so many pleasing combinations of existing words already taken, more and more it’s become common to just invent your own word — think of Zillow.com, Twitter, Verizon, Cialis and many more. Hey, once upon a time “Google” was total gibberish, but now it’s one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Is your label one that sticks?
Martin Zwilling has some good advice over at Business Insider on coming up with a killer name for your company. It should be unique and unforgettable — “stickiness” is the trait you’re looking for — easy to say and spell, and offer some kind of clue to what goods or services you offer.
Also check out this article from Entrepreneur.com on things to avoid when naming your business or product. Among the best advice is avoiding names that tie you down to a particular geographic location, which can hurt when the company starts growing. That’s part of the reason Kentucky Fried Chicken is now just KFC.
Looking to give your brand extra “stickiness?” The Coles Marketing team can help!Edit this post
The word “newsroom” may give people the thought of a room of editors and reporters hustling and bustling to get the latest breaking news and convey a variety of stories to their viewers or readers via one publication or station.
When it comes to an online newsroom, however, your corporation or organization needs to make sure to focus on multiple audience interests.
It’s a one-stop-shop for ANYONE, not just the media, to learn everything they need to know about your business. So make sure all your different audiences get what they want.
Steps to building an effective newsroom
In his article, Jon Bernstein says, “Building an effective brand newsroom isn’t about creating the next big phenomenon. It’s about consistently giving an audience what it wants.”
Here are some ways to do so:
- Define your audience. Create a persona of your ideal customer. Every time you produce a piece of content, consider what angle best suits his or her needs.
- Establish an editorial proposition. Provide information that is useful and valuable to your target audience. Don’t just talk about your own brand.
- Find your tone of voice. Being relaxed, informal and direct works well, especially when working across multiple channels.
- Establish no-go areas. Define up front the subject areas you are willing to write about and those you should avoid.
- Be ready to react to breaking news. You must be able to publish and distribute content on the fly with skill, confidence and authority. You also must know which medium will work best.
How to design an online newsroom
Then, what are the basics that must be included in an effective online newsroom? Jackson Wightman shares some of the elements in his article for PR Daily.
- Make media contact details obvious. There should be a person who is listed as the point of contact. This should be above the fold and highlighted.
- Link to news releases and media coverage. This provides an out for journalists in a hurry who may not be able to speak with your company’s or client’s executives.
- Include a media backgrounder. Have a least one backgrounder on the company and one on a new line, product or service you’re launching.
- Include executive bios. Some press segments will want to know about the bosses. Be safe and include these.
- Be social. Your newsroom should have clear social media links. Brands may also embed widgets to display the latest social status updates.
- Multimedia content is a MUST! This can make or break your newsroom. Have hi- and Web-res photos, along with videos, audio recordings and logos.
- Show off case studies. Why not show interested media how you’ve helped clients overcome their problems?
- Display blog content on the homepage. Feature relevant, popular blogs on your newsroom homepage.
- Make it all searchable. Media are time-crunched. They will abandon ship if they can’t find what they want.
- Optimize around keywords. The online newsroom offers a chance to optimize content based on keywords.
If you build it, they will come
According to the 2013 newsroom report, “How the World’s Top 100 Brands Are Using Online Newsrooms to Tell Their Stories,” noted in this article by Lisa Buyer, 98 percent of brands report they have an online newsroom. But 35 percent fail to keep news up to date.
The online newsroom is a great opportunity to tap into all the quality content that can add value to media as well as potential customers and clients. And we have a team to make your online newsroom the best it can be!Edit this post
Categories: 2014 March Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: agency, brand journalism, Branding, Coles, Coles Marketing, Coles Marketing Communications, communications, communications Indianapolis, content, Indiana, Indiana public relations agency, Indianapolis, Indianapolis public relations, media, media room, news, newsroom, online, online newsroom, press room, Public Relations, Public Relations Indianapolis