The Importance of Standards. Brand Standards.
Many companies know they should have a Brand Standard Guide. What they may not fully understand is why it is so important. In fact, it may be the most important marketing asset your company uses.
Brand Standard Guides do more than provide a reference for vendors or employees to make certain that all materials conform to corporate standards. The Guide is a preservation tool – a brand preservation tool. Many studies show that there is a definite “inconsistency impact” on brand loyalty – where customers lose trust in their favorite brands when they notice differences in visual or verbal communication.* These subtle inconsistencies can create an image of instability and internal confusion, and even when seemingly insignificant, can have dramatic impact.
Creating a Brand Standard Guide preserves your brand and builds the loyalty of your customer base. From a branding standpoint, it might be the most important tool to ensure the growth of a company.
Cost vs. Benefit of Brand Standards
Yes, creating a Brand Standard Guide does involve a marketing spend. But the cost of not creating and utilizing brand standards may be more significant, and far more than the cost of any marketing expenditure. Remember, it costs more to attract new customers than it does to nurture existing ones. Losing your loyal customers is a cost no company can afford.
When thinking of the value of a brand, it’s important to consider how long it took for that brand image to be developed. Each customer touchpoint – every website visit, every service call, every business card – presents your brand. Building a brand can take years and can – in all seriousness – be destroyed in an instant. As a recent article in Forbes explains, “You have to create brand differentiation in your customers’ minds and have them ‘feel’ there is no good substitute for your product or service. If you don’t, then you will compete on price all the way to the bottom.”**
What your brand image is has an incalculable value. And at the root of virtually any brand, are positions of professionalism, reliability and dependability. Ensuring the visual presentation of that brand as professional, reliable and dependable is critical.
Maintaining and Controlling the Brand
Most companies have a variety of vendors, and sometimes distributors, who create materials across many mediums. Brand Standards save time and money by providing a Go-To resource for sizes, specs, colors, as well as how you want your company to be presented. Costly mistakes without standards often are significantly more expensive than creating a Brand Standard Guide in the first place. Your corporate marketing department and your lead outside agency should be the points of contact for approvals, libraries of images, usage questions and other matters related to brand governance in order to ensure accuracy.
With the ever-increasing availability of digital tools, the ease at which marketing materials can be developed, changed and shared via social media, is rapidly increasing. Setting – and controlling – your valuable brand is critical in the modern age. As a company grows, its staff and needs grow, and controlling how each and every piece of marketing and sales collateral is created is more important than ever.
Purpose of a Brand Guide
Think of your Brand Standard Guide as an essential tool. It is a central repository where brand information can be easily referenced, in clear and direct language. An effective Brand Guide clearly spells out the “brand rules” – what you can and cannot do – as well as provide links to assets, images and contact information for approvals. Making sure your Brand Guide is the automatic reference point for creating any asset avoids costly mistakes.
What a Brand Standard Guide Should Include
While every B2B Brand Standard Guide is developed based on the company, its needs and its unique marketing initiatives, there are some core assets that virtually every guide will contain, such as:
Tone of Voice
Why Brand Standard Development is Critical for B2B
For manufacturers and industrial clients, technology and innovation is often critical in brand positioning. It’s important that imagery and text be controlled to convey your company’s story – highlighting its technological edge. Marketing materials that don’t adhere to these standards dilute this important position.
In the manufacturing and industrial sectors there are often even more instances where brand standards are important, such as plant signage, tradeshow displays and internal campaigns designed to recognize employees or announce workplace accomplishments. Maintaining standards for these important touchpoints is just as crucial, especially as many of these brand impressions are in-person.
Setting Up Your B2B Brand for Growth and Expansion
Even more important for international companies, these standards keep the image of your company consistent across multiple locations, multiple languages and multiple countries.
And there’s also this important internal motivation to consider – when your brand is instantly recognizable in any environment it reflects corporate pride and belief in what your company has created. Think of the effect of this consistency on not just your customer base, but also on your workforce, and the workforce you hope to attract.
As Forbes explained in an article on the critical importance of Brand Standards: “A style guide is essential to keep your brand identity consistent, recognizable and ownable.”*** Your team has worked hard to build a brand that represents quality, expertise, and positive customer experiences. Make sure at every touchpoint that you own it.
Expert B2B Brand Standard Development
If you’re ready to take your brand to the next level, whether you need some help developing your brand marketing or establishing brand standard guidelines – we are here to help. With almost two decades of B2B branding expertise, we can help put you on a path for future growth. Contact us today to discuss your needs.
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