Utilizing your positioning, you can create your branding foundation, which includes messaging and a visual branding strategy. Developing brand assets, such as your logo, helps tie your business’s offerings together, but they offer limited meaning without developing messaging guidelines, so don’t skip any of these foundational steps.
Once you know your positioning in the market, it’s time to establish your messaging guidelines. These guidelines will help all content sound on-brand, no matter which team member is creating them.
First, narrow your audience into segments, as narrow as possible. Then, determine what those audience segments need. Some needs may overlap based on your business, but there will likely be differences.
Based on these needs, similar and different, determine the best practices for promoting your positioning to each audience segment and how you should communicate with your audience overall. This will depend on your audience, your positioning, and how your business wants to sound. If you need ideas, look up “tone of voice adjectives.” From there, use those adjectives to develop your content tone and style. Provide your team with the do’s and don’ts for your messaging guidelines accordingly.
Because your customers likely experience a short sales cycle, you need to build trust with your prospects and build a desire for your services quickly. You can do this by being concise in your messaging; add tactics on how to be concise in your messaging guidelines. For example, “Use short, concise sentences. Avoid creating long pieces of content for prospects, but increase content length for customers when appropriate.”
Modern consumers care about brand values. Part of creating your messaging guidelines is determining how to promote your shared values (between your brand and your customers) with your customers. What is important to your customers? Why? How can you make a difference? Answers to these questions can relate directly to your services, to charitable organizations you support, or how your business is run. This is where promoting your company culture can often come in if it relates to how you serve your customers.
Remember: Avoid using industry jargon in your messaging. Your audience likely doesn’t understand or want to learn your industry’s jargon, so use simple, easy to understand language for all content.
Conveying brand personality is also important to position your business appropriately. To set your brand apart from your competitors, conveying your brand personality and values in your messaging is key. These pieces will help your prospects and customers remember you.
Visual Branding Strategy
After developing your messaging guidelines, it’s important to create visual branding that will resonate with your messaging. Together, your messaging and visual branding create your brand identity, helping your audience identify you in the competitive market over time––as long as it’s consistent. Together, they tell the story of your business, but good visual branding doesn’t need many, if any, words.
Visual branding evokes emotions. Often, when a prospect views your branding and connects with it, they want more; or, they immediately can tell that your brand is not for them based on your branding. This is why having a visual branding strategy is so important. Not only must it match your messaging and audience’s needs, but it also needs to represent your brand fluidly, across all projects and platforms.
Developing a visual branding strategy is very similar to developing messaging guidelines. You need to consider your business industry, unique services, and brand personality with the emotions you want to evoke. For most consumer services businesses, you will want to focus on conveying a reputable, reliable, and trustworthy image through your branding. This strategy focuses on determining the logo, color palette, fonts, and types of images used for online and print pieces across all departments, but don’t stop there.
If you plan on plastering your logo on the side of a truck, putting it on a billboard, posting it on a large light-up sign in front of your building, or decorating your office accordingly, it’s best to include where your logo and other visual branding assets will be published, so you or your graphic designer knows what color schemes and sizes to use.
For some consumer services businesses, you will want your branding to promote experience and expertise, which may include elegant and simple lines and typography, while others will want to convey convenience, which may include more playful shapes, colors, and images.
Visual Branding Development
Once you know your visual branding strategy, it’s time to develop your assets. Common assets include logo, color palette, fonts, and types of images, but you may require additional assets based on your unique business needs.
As you develop your visual branding assets, determine whether those pieces feel like your brand. Do they convey the message you want them to, even without words? Also, remember to specify what pieces are meant for online or print publication, as well as the rules of use for both.
Collect your messaging guidelines and visual branding assets in one place that is accessible to your entire team. Then determine what pieces of collateral need to be updated, including website pages, business listings, brochures, business cards, social media page details, and more. Then create a plan to update a page or a piece at least monthly, if not weekly, until all pieces are updated.
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