Brand Collateral is the collection of digital and print used to promote your brand and support the sales and marketing of your product or service. They are the tactical materials of your brand strategy. It's the tangible evidence of the brand, designed congruent with the brands core values and personality (brand identity). These marketing aids are intended to make your sales effort easier and more effective.
When your brand collateral does not consistently live up to your brand identity trust gets damaged. I call that Collateral Damage. I see it. Every. Single. Day. I keep asking myself, “Why would anyone want to intentionally hurt their business?”
The only reason I can come up with is that they don’t know what they don’t know.
ARE YOU UNKNOWINGLY DESTROYING YOUR BRAND?
Many businesses underestimate the importance of brand consistency, they equate branding with the creation brand identity and think the branding process is done.
It’s not. And that kind of thinking can cause damage to your business.
Part of the problem is a misconception of the differences between branding and marketing. Many businesses assume that a logo and brand identity on your website is enough, but that couldn't be further than the truth. This days it's easy to put out a ton of brand collateral. But remember: all communications need to be consistent. Consumers are savvy—if there's one piece either in digital or print that doesn't fit your brand, it'll stand out like a sore thumb.
Brand consistency is the act of delivering the same brand messaging, voice and visual elements in every graphic, and piece of content. To be consistent is to be reliable — and when you’re reliable, you’re also recognizable and more likely to earn new customers or repeat ones because they trust you.
Image for a minute if all of a sudden you changed your entire personality. Not just how you spoke, you changed everything — your entire belief system, how you interacted with friends and family, even how you dressed. What do you think would happen? I will tell you. Your friends and family would freak out. They would begin to question everything you ever did or told them. Their perception of you would be altered. Just that alone could damage your reputation, ruin your relationships, cost you professional opportunities. Brands aren’t people, obviously, but people start to think of them that way. So the exact same thing happens when you all of a sudden change the look and feel of your brand while you try to market it.
Brands have personalities that dictate the way people expect them to behave. Your brand is how your business is perceived, and, like it or not, perception is reality. Being consistent in every piece of content is important to maintaining your brand's reputation. Whether it’s social media marketing, paid advertising, blog, newsletter, ebooks, videos, posts, website copy, your sales process or anything else, your brand should always put on the same face. Make sure your brand is consistent across all touch points of your business.
If your brand is going to stand for something, it has to stand for something all the time. Your brand has its own identity. It should look, sound and make people feel a certain way. The strongest brands represent a consistent image with targeted messaging that enhances that brand but doesn’t change it. You can only become a strong brand through proactive brand consistency. Although the methods utilized in marketing can vary, you must support your brand’s identity. Tools and tactics can be adjusted depending on the audience and changes in market conditions, but your brand “must always remain constant. That means that every time your customers interact with your brand, they should be experiencing the same identity that you set out for the brand.
When your marketing doesn't align with your branding you lose trust. You can have the best of intentions, but if you don’t deliver a consistent and congruent visual and verbal experience, your prospective client is likely going to err on the side of caution and – spoiler alert – that’s not going to be with you.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW !
Be authentic. Be who you are, not who you THINK your audience wants you to be on any given day.
Listen, many businesses out there that are very good at what they do, the problem is that they stopped showcasing it the right way. They invested in creating a brand strategy and a well-designed brand identity and then stopped using them, because they run out of creative ways to market
What does that look like? 20 gazillion different colors,10 different fonts, canned stock photography, cute but bizarre illustrations that go against their target audience, videos with a brand voice that is speaking “exactly” like their competitors— all spread across their once consistent social media platforms and used in their once consistent print and digital collateral.
Engaging brand collateral has the power to strengthen your brand, this ensures visibility and recognition within your target audience, so you stay top of mind, especially when they need you most. While mediocre work will likely have the opposite effect. When something is out of place, you inadvertently say and do things that are causing your clients and prospects to pause and second guess if working with you is the right decision.
Use strategic design
Marketing should enhance what your brand means, not distract from it, and communicate the value of your brand in ways that build a growing sense of trust and comfort among current and prospective customers.
Strategic design plays a huge role in helping a company appear the right way, say the right things, and create stuff that looks beautiful, amazing, and useful. Strategic designers use words and images designed to reinforce your brand promise in words and visuals.
Stop trying to save money.
Giving a design project to anyone in your company with Word will save money and you may feel good about that, but really think about what it's costing you in the long run.
Resist the impulse to cut corners by asking someone with a little capacity to create your brand collateral in-house—or even find a low-cost freelancer to save money. It’s important to maintain your brands image, and reputation. When your marketing looks like you have done it yourself, it does not convey that professionalism and brand trustworthiness that is so essential.
Plus, cheap designs typically look cheap. Which means your customers think your product or service is just as cheap as your marketing. Self-destructive, damaging cycle, really.
Stop using DIY services.
Of course you can just ignore what I am saying and choose to do it yourself. The challenge with doing it yourself creative is you will probably use the exact same DIY services as others. Just know that those materials are prepped materials are designed for the masses, hence they will lack strategy and good unique creative.
Your marketing is a reflection of your business as a whole –and the right client experience is critical. If you don’t deliver it, in a fresh interesting way, your competitor will.
One of my favorite quotes is from Bernbach founder of DDB in 1945 and it is still true today.
"The truth isn't the truth until people believe you, and they can't believe you if they don't know what you're saying, and they can't know what you're saying if they don't listen to you, and they won't listen to you if you're not interesting, and you won't be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly."
Look for support
If you’ve set yourself up for success by hiring a brand designer or studio to build your brand and you’re clearly positioned, then don’t damage it or continue to damage it, instead consider reaching out for support.
Branding design professionals can assist you in making all of your marketing collateral consistent across all the different channels and mediums. They have imaginative ideas, to increase ROI and profitability. When that happens, you can sell or advertise your business much more effectively.
While most people think that hiring a qualified professional is expensive, the reality could not be further from the truth. First of all, they are experts in artistic branding and marketing presentation. Professionals who know how to integrate your branding strategy into your creative, which attracts the right customers. And they will work with you to stay on budget and maximize your branding efforts.
I can’t speak for all studios, but “consider yourself BRANDED” works on a really flexible basis, giving clients as much or as little support as they need. I don’t insist on monthly retainers, and can help to advise on what areas would be good for me to work on and where I think you could really do it yourself.
Whether it’s a bit of tactical input at strategy level, or some practical support at implementation level, I can find a solution that is cost effective.