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Branding Guidelines for Consistent Marketing

Create a brand message and visual style that’s recognizable and dependable.

When your marketing efforts present a similar message with a matching voice, color palette, and visual style across all channels—online and offline—it enables people to recognize your brand and understand what you offer. Brand consistency helps you stand out from the competition and encourages people to engage or buy.

“Having a unified brand message goes a long way toward helping you connect with your target audience,” says Jon Holbrook, Product Marketing Manager at Mailchimp. “When you communicate your brand message consistently, your marketing is more persuasive and credible, which drives business results.”

Use these 4 tips to establish and maintain a consistent and impactful brand message across your marketing channels.

1. Set brand guidelines

Creating clear rules and standards for your visual and written materials is an important first step toward establishing brand consistency. This upfront work will help you keep focused as you launch new campaigns.

“Conversations about critical details will ensure you deliver consistently on your brand promise and make your marketing memorable,” says Jon. “Consensus on these details will serve as the foundation for your brand guidelines.”

  • Tone and voice. Think about what your brand’s personality would be if it were personified. What are some key traits you would want to be immediately perceptible to your audience? A hair salon for kids, for example, needs a fun and approachable vibe, while a law firm should adopt a more serious and dependable tone.
  • Color palette. Select a dominant color and 3 or 4 complementary tones for a secondary palette, so your visual assets are consistent but not monotonous. Uniformity of colors will help strengthen brand recognition.
  • Logo. Set rules for how you want your logo displayed in different formats. Make sure to include color variations you’ll allow and guidelines for vertical and horizontal formatting.
  • Images. Give guidance on the type of stock or proprietary photography and illustrations to use. Think about what’s appropriate for your brand—for example, maybe images of products should be fresh and modern, while other businesses might do well with a vintage look. If you’re including images of people, make sure they represent your target audience so potential customers identify with what they see.
  • Fonts. Typically, brands have a primary font and a secondary typeface that are variously used for titles, paragraph text, or captions. Much like your color palette, the uniformity of a limited rotation of fonts will help increase your brand recognizability.
  • Copy. The words you choose and how you use them says a lot about who you are. Punctuation and other copy guidelines will also help maintain a consistent message. For example, is your brand casual enough to use contractions in writing? Do you use industry jargon? Even details like whether you capitalize every word or only the first one in headlines should be agreed upon.
  • Frequency. Think about how often you send emails, post to social media, do direct mail outreach, or implement any other aspect of your multichannel plan. “Identify where you may be under- or over-communicating,” says Jon. “You want to make sure all your hard work pays off and you connect with loyal customers, but don’t overdo it.”

2. Organize your marketing assets

Keeping your brand consistent across all channels is easier if all your assets are accessible by everyone who needs them.

An asset management tool like Mailchimp’s Content Studio lets you store your business’s visual assets—logos, product images, color guides—in one place. This means that all team members, partners, and stakeholders can view or access them easily from wherever they happen to be.

“An asset management tool ensures everyone is using the right assets for each campaign,” Jon notes. “This puts teams at ease, streamlines the design process, and makes collaboration simpler.”

Asset management tools keep things organized and help ensure a clear message across channels in a number of ways.

  • When all assets are in one place, teams creating offline advertising and promotions can easily align with web-based campaigns. The same works for web-based teams using print work as a jumping-off point.
  • You’ll have fewer bottlenecks when everyone on a team can access what they need to complete their work. This builds each person’s sense of autonomy.
  • It’s easier to collaborate when everyone can quickly reference other works in progress. Stakeholder access to design work and assets ensures that no one is excluded from important decisions.

3. Use a marketing calendar to plan ahead

Taking advantage of planning tools can keep everyone on your team in sync, even with multiple campaigns happening simultaneously. While it takes a bit of work to map out a marketing or promotion schedule, it’ll improve your chances of success and save time in the long run. Advance planning means you’ll have plenty of time to tweak your messaging for consistency if necessary.

A marketing calendar can help you keep on top of every campaign and promotion your team is executing. You’ll be able to:

  • Coordinate multichannel campaigns. With a marketing calendar, you can see everything in one place, so you know how it all fits together to ensure a consistent message.
  • Schedule email blasts and social media ads weeks in advance. When you plan ahead, you’ll have breathing room to make changes and adjust the timing of promotions as needed.
  • Review past campaign performance to adjust future efforts, looking for places where you can improve message consistency.

Working with a marketing calendar gives you a clear overview of everything you’re doing,” says Jon. “This perspective is invaluable for checking for consistency.”

4. Repurpose content

Reusing content can help you reach a new audience and reinforce your message with minimal effort on your part. A new design or layout can easily refresh content that’s timeless and may have great value to an audience who hasn’t seen it yet. Recycling existing assets also gives you a chance to fine-tune your brand messaging.

“Good, evergreen content can be expensive and time-consuming to produce from scratch,” Jon notes. “Repurposing content is cost-efficient and has the bonus of injecting repetition into your messaging. People often need to hear messages multiple times to internalize them, so repurposing helps give your marketing continuity while keeping it fresh.”

There are many ways you can repurpose existing content into something new.

  • Data from a survey report can be used to create an infographic.
  • Interesting sound bites from webinars can be edited down into 1- or 2-minute clips that are perfect for social media.
  • An evergreen “how to” article can be updated with new examples and reposted with a new headline.
  • Blog posts highlighting customer success stories could be compiled into an e-book.
  • A presentation for prospective clients could be turned into a shareable slide deck showcasing your range of services.

Mailchimp’s new design tool, Creative Assistant, makes it easy for you to repurpose your existing brand assets for all your marketing channels. Our Creative Assistant uses AI to make the most of content you already have. It takes assets like logos, images, fonts, and colors and reimagines them into attractive, new, on-brand designs you can easily edit and size to use in different marketing channels.

By reusing these design elements, Creative Assistant helps you save time and maintain brand consistency with confidence. You choose and modify the designs you use, so you maintain creative control.

Stay open to inspiration

Keeping your message and image fresh is an ongoing part of brand maintenance. Brand consistency requires that any changes reflect your established message to ensure that it continues to resonate with your audience.

Mailchimp’s Creative Assistant can help because it enables you to see several graphic design options that use your brand elements whenever you need them. Whether you want to make small or substantial changes, it’s easy to find inspiration and craft a design that’s just right for each channel.

“It’s both an automated and a collaborative design process, since you see different options and can easily make changes,” says Jon. “You’ll have time to focus on other work, and can be confident that the brand your customers have come to know will stay consistent.”

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