“For better or for worse, our company is a reflection of my thinking, my character, my values.”
– Rupert Murdoch
What rang true on ABC News in 1997 still applies to this day. As the head of any company, or even a representative of the company, your actions and words speak to your brand. The message that you portray says volumes about your company and its culture.
At this point you might be wondering, how do I make sure it is positive and that it is a consistent message throughout our company?
Your company needs to develop a set of brand guidelines to use across all of your messaging. These guidelines should be followed whether your retail employee is speaking with a customer in store, or you are launching a full-scale international marketing campaign. Both of the former messages should reflect your corporation’s values and mission.
Brand guidelines can have many different applications, and you may even want to develop best practices for each department in your company. For instance, Imprint Engine has a document detailing best practices for our online social media presence. The document contains information on what can be posted, what should be included, and even the best times to post on each platform.
Narrowing Your Brand Values
Whether you are just creating your brand or are an established company, narrowing the values your brand is focused on is essential to your brand’s guidelines. Your company needs to tell consumers not only what you do, but what you believe in. The connection and relationship you have with your customers is paramount in every industry in the 21st century.
The first thing to focus on is what you do, what does your company offer? Focusing on this is going to give you what you value about your products or services. An example would be if you sell paraben free soaps, your main value would be selling a healthy eco-friendly alternative to traditional soaps.
After you have your main value you can branch off into other values you want your brand to exemplify. Taking the example from above, your company may value fair trade and sustainable sourcing of products. All the values your company stands for should be included in your initial brainstorming.
Once you have all of your brand’s values you should rank them by importance, narrowing the pool to what makes you passionate. I usually take the top three values to use for developing your brand personas and the mission statement.
Who is Your Target Market?
The next step involves creating your brand personas or the “people” you are targeting to sell to. These “people” make up the different demographics in your target market. Traditionally companies typically have 4-5 different demographics that they cater to.
Imprint Engine has created five different personas that we use to envision our consumers, this helps us to know who we are writing to when creating blogs and social media posts. Our personas even include stock pictures to help give them more of a personal feel.
In these profiles you are going to want to take the data that either you or your industry has collected on who purchases your products or services. The data will give you age ranges, genders, locations, etc. Use this information to segment your target market.
After you have collected your quantitative data (your numbered data) you will want to collect your qualitative data (words, “unmeasurable”). This data is typically made up of testimonials or survey responses from your consumers. Use the knowledge of your team members in identifying the goals, challenges, values, and fears your consumers face during the purchasing process.
You will then compile these demographics and the information you have collected from consumers about their pain points and goals to create your “people.” The template I used when building our personas can be found on Buffer’s blog. The blog also contains more examples other companies have produced.
I will be using our same example of the paraben free soap company to show you how to set a profile up. The more detailed you are about the target market, the better you will be able to market successfully.
Include detailed information about where they get the majority of their information (blogs, magazines, periodicals they may read, tv shows they may watch). This will help you market effectively while choosing ad placement and media buys.
Working Mom Located in the Midwest
In charge of household purchases, prefers to shop local but is a busy parent without time to look for the types products she wants her family to use
Goals and Challenges
Paraben free soap made from locally sourced materials.
Values and Fears
High quality soap made free from harmful chemicals. Fits your budget and is sold in multiple retailers in the midwest.
Once you have developed all of the personas you need to effectively market your products you will use the same top three values to write a mission statement.
Writing Your Mission Statement
A mission statement is what you want your brand to exude in all of it’s messaging. You want it to encompass what your company stands for, what you are trying to achieve, and who you want to help with your offering. The mission statement is typically either a one sentence or one short paragraph long statement that is your first impression to consumers.
With your top three values from above you will build your mission statement. Taking from our previous example of the paraben free soap, we will use the values locally sourced, eco friendly, and free from harmful chemicals to create a mission statement.
Although these values are all very much hand-in-hand, they all may appeal to separate demographics, or they may all appeal to people within those demographics as well. Your mission statement should be very aware of who your target market is. Use the brand persona information above to get comfortable with who you are marketing to.
A majority of large enterprises use only once sentence for their mission statement. This helps show the impact of the statement and the ability to simplify their values into one succinct thought.
Our paraben free soap company would likely have a mission statement like this: Cleaning up our local communities, one bubble at a time. The statement is fun but still reflects the values that the company wants to convey. That using their soap helps the local community be free from harmful chemicals.
Now that you have a mission statement you can concentrate on writing brand guidelines. These guidelines will help your company eat, sleep, and breath the corporate mission.
Now that your mission statement is clear and you have your target market you want to speak to, your brand guidelines can be drafted. Brand guidelines should include the personas above, the mission statement, as well as the values your company finds important.
Brand guidelines may also be distributed online or to partners in order to keep the integrity of your brand (do not include personas on these copies). They detail where and when your brand attributes (name, logo, any intellectual property you own) can be used.
They may also include how you can use your logo including shape, size, colors, and correct margins needed. This insures your brand will never be compromised by something that is not within brand guidelines
You may also want a department specific guide as corporations and mid-sized companies have many different channels of communication. Communications from your company should always reflect your values and mission.
There are a few questions I always ask before posting anything that you may want to utilize:
- Is this relevant to the brand we are creating?
- Does the post create a call to action?
The first question should be used in every form of communication to your consumers or internally. However always remember that the relationship building process of a brand is still relevant, and you do not always need to be selling something to speak with your consumers. Be conversational, be friendly, people are drawn to companies that speak to their sensibilities.
Post an article that you think your demographic would find interesting. Have your retail salesperson inform them of a free download they might benefit from. These interactions are still relevant to the brand as they are developing a connection with your target market.
Creating a call to action could include selling or it could be a question asking for a response. It could also be a poll, asking about a new product. This could also be used in your online presence, print media, or through a retail sale.
If you are struggling in building your brand guidelines or mission statement and want help in the process please contact Imprint Engine.