Continuing my series of answering questions sent in by you, this week’s question asks about brand management.
How can a small company manage a brand effectively and economically given the shortage of manpower in lean-running SMEs like mine? It seems a huge task. (Brand management as I see it is maintaining correct image/font/presentation across all platforms and with all distributors).
This is a question a lot of large and small companies struggle with. Managing a brand is a huge task, but not because it’s hard to make sure your logo, colours and fonts are consistent. What you’re describing as brand management I call identity standards, and consistent presentation of your identity is important because it helps people recognise you, but it’s not what will make or break your business and brand.
To address the needs of your basic identity standards, if you don’t already have one, get a simple manual in place that has some basic guidelines (a couple of pages will usually suffice) and make sure it is given to everyone who works for and with you. Include correct use of the logo, which fonts you prefer and colour swatches – there are plenty of examples online.
In absence of guidelines, people will do whatever they think is right, but if standards are readily available most people will follow them, and the stuff that falls through the cracks isn’t the end of the world.
I’ve written on the energy wasted trying to be logo police before, but it’s worth repeating that no one will ever choose to buy or not buy your product or service because of where your logo is placed, or what font or shade of blue is used. And the energy trying to enforce those things can be much better spent building your brand in more meaningful ways.
Brand management – or as I prefer to call it, meeting expectations and making sure you keep your promises – IS a huge task. And it’s one that rightly deserves a lot of time and attention. Because unlike an errantly positioned logo, a broken promise or unmet expectation WILL cause a customer to go elsewhere, or at the very least erode their confidence in your company.
So by all means figure out some identity standards and get a supporting guideline document in place. Make it easily available and give a copy (preferably PDF) to anyone who will be using your identity (logo, etc). Then focus back on the things that will truly build your brand: being deliberate, disciplined and aligned in what you do and how you do it so you keep your promises.
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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on Twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].
See you next week with (your question here).
Michel is an independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com.