If your logo looks like this, you need help...
One of the things that often surprises me as I’m introduced to new customers around the country, is the way that many, often quite large businesses, don’t really reinforce their brand identity consistently through their day-to-day interactions either with external customers and suppliers, or internally.
Given the amount of money that often goes in to developing and protecting a brand, it’s a little surprising that some are so careless about the liberties that are taken with it once it’s been established.
It’s easy to see how this can come about. Modern word-processors and e-mail editors, for example, allow unprecedented control over page-layout and design, and this gives people the flexibility to personalise their communications in ways that may not be entirely “on message” from a brand or corporate identity point of view.
Something as subtle as the font used in a letter or email can communicate subliminally to reinforce – or perhaps contradict – the image that we’re striving to project of ourselves. And it can be a hard thing to keep tabs on for a business. If Mary in accounts just loves to use that Algerian typeface because it reminds her of her son’s debut in the school production of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, it can be quite an uphill struggle to convince her that it doesn’t quite convey the profile of the high-tech Seismic Measurement Industry that we’re trying to establish – not to mention that it can be really hard to read.
Your company logo is one of the most readily identifiable images you have, and if it’s a strong brand the image will be instantly recognisable. All too often, however, logos appear distorted and pixelated in letterheads that have been printed internally, placed in emails, or uploaded to web pages, and this can damage your reputation by creating an impression of sloppiness and a lack of attention to detail.
Apart from anything else, if everyone in the organisation just does their own thing, then there is no unifying thread that links all of the communications together. If I’m dealing with several people from the same business, there should be something about all of their correspondence with me which identifies them as having originated from the same place.
Templates are a great way to deal with these things, and most software provides support for the use of templates as a basic feature. These can and should be used for everything from emails to monthly sales reports, to reinforce brand indentity.
Knowing what type of image to use, (JPG, PNG, EPS. etc) and a little understanding about the effects of good (and bad!) typography, can play a large part in ensuring that your brand doesn’t get diluted or corrupted in the day-to-day administration of your business.
My top tips for helping to keep everyone on message are:
- Make sure everyone in your organisation knows what the brand/corporate identity is.
- Prepare templates – and make them easily available to everyone – for everyday things like emails, letters, spreadsheets, reports, etc.
- Write a “Style Guide” and make sure everyone knows it exists and where to find it. This doesn’t have to be anything very grand or lengthy, just a simple explanation of which fonts are acceptable and why (and which aren’t); how, where and in which formats to use the company logo and where to find the best one; and which colours are acceptable and how to create them.
- Remind everyone periodically, that the Style Guide exists and that they should be referring to it frequently.
If you need help preparing templates, check out my training courses for many of the popular office software applications, such as Microsoft Office, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, FrameMaker, QuarkXPress, CorelDraw and Business Objects. I’ll be delighted to help you out!