What is Brand Collateral?
Brand Collateral is the collection of customer communications used to create awareness, promote your business and support the sales and marketing of your product or service... It speaks for your brand, because it's designed congruently with the brand's core values and personality. It creates a STRONG brand image and voice, it sets you apart from your competitors, it will emphasize your business persona, professional representation and it contributes to the client's trust in your brand.
The diverse range of brand collateral can include anything from print materials like business cards, posters, catalogs, pamphlets, brochures, postcards and flyers to digital content like blog posts, e-books, and newsletters. Anything you can use to communicate your company’s brand message is considered brand collateral, but a key focus is on communicating the brand and carrying the message using these marketing aids to make the sales effort easier and more effective.
Its like advertising but it’s not. It’s the cumulative touch-points that your audience has with your brand everywhere. For example, it can work as an advertisement in the form of a trade show banner, but this would also help customers to pinpoint your location in a vast trade show hall, being a brand they recognize and are therefore drawn to.
No two businesses are alike so. Your collateral items will differ with the type of business you have and how you plan to communicate and market. And, that’s why the look and feel of your brand collateral should be different, too. A cohesive, well-designed brand can differentiate your business from competitors, build trust and recognition with your audience, and give them the right first impression.
Here are some on my branding tips….
Your branding is much more than just your logo, of course. It encompasses your entire design, from your business’ colors to the font you use on your website to the voice you use. It’s essential that all of your branding is consistent across your marketing materials, both physical and digital. If your business cards have your old colors on them, but your website has your new one, that discrepancy won’t reflect well on your business.
Although this may sound simple, it’s worth the money to consult with a professional designer who can provide you with a color scheme that will work well with websites and printed material and advise you on how to use it.
Don’t go font-crazy.
It might seem fun to choose a different font for each page or project, but it can come across as unprofessional. Choose a handful of fonts that are easy to read and work well for a variety of purposes, then use it consistently across all of your materials.
Use custom design elements.
Today many consider a lot more items beyond your standard business card, letterhead and email signature to be essentials. To assist in meaningful brand storytelling, they’re usually complex in design and need more assets created. These extra assets are typically:
photos commissioned or licensed
and even aspiration video scripting, filming and production
Hire a graphic designer to customize buttons, icons, and other graphic elements that can be styled to complement your logo, color scheme and the general impression you are going for.
Have a consistent voice.
Even if you’re doing all the writing yourself, you’ll want to be mindful that you use the same general tone and level of formality in all your writing. Choose a writing style that meshes well with the image you’d like to portray and the market you’d like to appeal to and then use it consistently.
Create different versions of your logo.
You won’t always have the same size space for your logo, so make sure you’re prepared with a logo that has horizontal and vertical version and can be scaled to look good in a variety of sizes. Depending on the design, you might want a version that’s black and white, full color, or a simplified mark version.
Being as consistent as possible with the visual look of all your materials helps create a strong brand identity that won’t be forgotten.
Know what your target audience wants.
Identifying exactly who they are and how many types of customer you have is essential if you are going to improve your marketing. The more detail you have on your customers/clients the better placed you are to respond to them with exactly what they want, how they want and when they want it. This is especially important when planning marketing activity, it can often help you to decide on what format(s) is best.
First impressions count.
The point is that good collateral makes an impression, carves out real estate in the prospect’s brain, and influences buying decisions. It helps make a professional competitive statement and win business.
I believe that in a crowded market place it often takes simplicity to help your message stand out. Well thought out messaging, delivered in an simple and clear way can create a feeling of confidence, building trust, value and dedication in your brand.
Don't cut corners on design or copy.
To save money, you may choose to write and design collateral yourself or in-house, but the collateral created in-house will lack the verbal and visual sharpness that professional brand designer can deliver.
Some others often use free templates from the web. The challenge with doing it yourself layouts and graphics is that are prepped with look cheap. When your materials looks like you have done it yourself, it does not convey that professionalism and brand trustworthiness that is so essential.
If you lack the design expertise to generate great looking collateral, be honest about it.
Putting too much info on a page.
Have you ever noticed that at some large chain restaurants, the menu is so extensive that it’s hard to choose what to order? It’s the same with an overly informative piece of print collateral. You can give them too much, too quick. Resist the temptation to share every detail about your product or service. Instead, home in on the value proposition—i.e., how your product or service will help customers solve their problems.
Avoid costly printing mistakes:
Inadequate Bleed on Artwork
Using Small Text on a Rich Black Background
Images that are not converted to CMYK
Spelling Mistakes (the mother of all printing mistakes)
Designing Without Quiet Borders
Fonts that are Not Converted to Outlines in Adobe® Illustrator or InDesign
Image Resolution Too Low
Using Raster Text and Logos Instead of Vectors
Saving Black & White Images in Color
Using .gif or .png File Formats for Print – (one of the major printing mistakes)
Not Flattening Layers Before Exporting to PDF
Fonts that are Not Embedded in Your PDF
Not Locking Layers before Reviewing & Flattening a File
Not getting a Hard-Copy Proof
Really BAD Design! (my pet peeve)
Consider Hiring A Professional.
Consider hiring a seasoned professional for whatever form of collateral you choose to market your business. First of all, we are experts in artistic presentation and online branding. We know all the techniques for integrating your branding strategy and creating a unified image. A competent brand designer will work with you and/or your staff to stay on budget and maximize your branding efforts and make sure everything is consistent.
Also, an outsider’s perspective/viewpoint can be helpful in gaining useful insights, finding mistakes/loopholes in your marketing efforts, or identifying new marketing ideas.
The money a professional brand designer charges usually pays for itself. Our experience handling different client accounts to provide unique viewpoints and lessons learnt from previous mistakes.
What A Brand Collateral Designer Should Deliver.
Here’s a quick overview of the skills you should look for in marketing collateral professionals:
While design expertise is important, a brand collateral designer who mixes the art of design with the science of marketing can have a real impact on your business. Here’s what to look for:
A complete view.
A brand collateral designer that cares about the smallest details of the design, but they also have a complete view of the role of collaterals in building your business.
A brand collateral designer thinks strategically about creating designs that people can relate to, customers can feel empowered by, and which perfectly embodies the personality of the brand.
FINAL THOUGHTS : Some business owners spend so much time, energy and money to be competitive. They make smart hiring decisions, ponder over successful growth strategies and collect competitive intelligence. Yet, too many businesses fail to see branded collateral as the strategic competitive asset. Others believe that just sticking their logo on a piece makes it branded.
But what these offenders don’t do is make the investment in marketing materials, in order to successfully sell against their competitors. They miss the opportunity to deliver their value proposition and competitive differentiators through compelling marketing materials.
Many times, they don’t have consistent brand collateral because either:
There is no supportive marketing department to produce those materials for them, or
They are left to their own devices to create that collateral.
The mindset of “I need to save money, so I’ll cut marketing first” can be extremely damaging to your business, resulting in:
Decreased exposure ( = decreased sales)
Perception that you’ve “disappeared from the marketplace”
New products, services are not promoted
Your left with nothing to sell with
I don’t want you to miss out on leveraging your value proposition and competitive differentiators with branded collateral, as it’s a powerful and effective mechanism for carrying your brand message far and wide.
Stay vigilant and measure every marketing move you make. And don’t forget to reach out to us trusted professionals. We are learning valuable lessons on how to adapt to the world around us. And we can share those lessons with you and help you produce and distribute crucial marketing collateral when you need it most.
It can be difficult to define what you need, so I’ve produced a list of common business types and the collateral branding materials they use.
There are no absolutes, this is an indicative guide only.