Having bared witness to (and been integrally involved with) numerous brand launches throughout my career, I am here to say that there are universal truths surrounding best practices. This goes for nearly all aspects of a brand launch — from the external communications strategies to the internal adoption programs. But the area in which I witness clients most often break protocol — to their detriment — is that of creative execution. Once the brand’s look, feel and visual elements have been defined, all hell breaks loose.
Here are four pieces of advice to keep your new brand from creatively going haywire:
1.) Keep it simple, stupid.
Just because you have a wide array of colors, graphics, photographs, etc. in your new brand’s arsenal, doesn’t mean that you need to use them all right out of the gate. Keeping the “palette” to a minimum at brand launch will allow audiences to get accustomed to change. Try utilizing only your most primary brand colors, primary logo orientations and primary font styles. Save some of those creative arrows in your quiver for when you’ve gained a bit of recognition with your primary brand elements. You’ll be extending the life of the brand while ensuring consistency across all channels.
2.) Consistency is key.
Speaking of consistency, this is a major area of concern for a branding firm like BrandingBusiness once the creative tools are in the hands of our clients. Different divisions, different vendors and different individual personalities will have desires to utilize the brand visually in a way that is most pleasing to them — not necessarily in a way that is in the best interest of the brand. As the advocates of the brand, you need to lock things down and only allow usage of the brand’s elements as deemed most appropriate.
3.) Be the brand police.
We always tell our clients the horror stories.The cases where brands have simply disintegrated within a matter of months through the dilution of its visual elements. Without rules to keep things organized, the clean and orderly system once relished by the leadership team becomes fragmented, broken and bloodied by various groups using and manipulating elements as they see fit. But of course the brand police need to be armed with something. This something is a concrete Brand Standards and Guidelines — a dos and don’ts, a set of firm regulations that you can point to in order to maintain order. We almost always specify Brand Standards and Guidelines for our clients, and this is something that we hear months after launch has been a life-saver for keeping the brand intact.
4.) Give your employees the tools.
While we can talk until we’re blue in the face about restrictions and policing the usage of the brand’s visual elements, the reality is that employees are going to be excited about being participants and integrating the new brand into their daily lives. You need to be able to provide them with the tools they need to feel involved. This almost always means providing them with templates that they can begin to utilize that are already pre-designed: digital letterhead, presentation templates, email signatures, etc. Offering these template materials at brand launch (and deleting old templates if possible) not only allows people to feel engaged, but it also ensures the consistency we’re trying to accomplish.
In closing, if there’s one thing I would like to leave you with, it’s this: When in doubt, see rule #1.