One of the greatest, most empowering elements of the digital age is that it has enabled each of us to become independent, self-guided publishers of unlimited amounts of material. This is wonderful for freedom of expression, communicating with others and creating a unique personal identity. But for brand managers, it can be enormously frustrating.
Especially in small to mid-size companies–where brand compliance is sometimes an afterthought–every email, social media post or website update is another chance for the brand to lose its course. So here are a few tips to keep your digital brand headed in the right direction.
PowerPoint is not a brand manager’s friend. Microsoft estimates that there are 30 million PowerPoint presentations every day. While some people might view this as proof that the apocalypse is nigh upon us, the prolific use of this particular software has compromised many a brand’s graphic standards. Strong brands have a set of approved templates for use by executives and staff. Templates should include approved graphics, colors and typefaces, as well as guidelines about how to use bells and whistles like slide transitions and fly-in type. Be consistent with the doodads, please.
How many logos do you have? Seems almost like a stupid question, doesn’t it? But far too many brands have a half dozen or more variations of their logos floating around their company’s hard drives. Maybe someone enlarged the mark in one version to “make it pop.” Or someone added a new tagline to another for a special event. Or someone else changed the colors for Halloween. Seek out these trespassing files and destroy them, or put them in a safe place, but keep the logo sacred and the same.
Proofread your website. I will bet you a case of New Coke that your website has errors in it. One of the most ironic features of the digital environment is the lack of attention to typos, grammatical errors and formatting inconsistencies. Even minor typos in printed materials used to spark a witch hunt for the guilty. Now the digital age gives us a false sense of security as in, “we can always fix an error.” Except that they don’t get fixed. And while one error may be overlooked, a series of mistakes starts to send a message that your brand is sloppy at best, maybe unsophisticated, and possibly unreliable, at worst.
So, I’m begging you, please proofread your website. Better yet, pay a professional service to do it for you. You’ll likely be surprised at what you didn’t know was wrong.
Take a good look at your email marketing. How many marketing emails do you send to a single prospect in a year? For most of my clients the answer is, “Phew, I’m not sure.” Not a good answer. Now take a look at the content of those emails. Have they been proofread? Do they follow your graphic standards and approved formatting? Or are a variety of different sources firing out emails on a whim, without asking what other parts of the company may have sent an email to the same person, or considering the effect that indiscriminate emails will have on the perception of your brand and your company. While many companies are counting the likes on their Facebook page, what they really should be worried about is their level of unsubscribes.
Clean up your social media. Because social media demands a regular flow of content and updates, it can be tempting to fill in the gaps with trivial or irrelevant material. Yes, it’s great that your employees built a snowman in the parking lot, but what does it say about your brand? If you’reactive in social media, but a review shows that it’s inconsistent, or scattered, develop a written plan and content calendar that will keep your messages on strategy. Social media marketing can be effective, but it’s not a magic bullet and it doesn’t take care of itself.
The digital world has provided us with many great tools and marketing channels. But, at the same time, it has created just as many opportunities to lose focus and drift away from carefully laid plans for brand strategy and marketing. Keep a watchful eye on your content and make sure it’s on message, meets graphic standards and is as error-free as possible. And please proofread your website.
As published in the Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business.