As I’ve mentioned in past articles, I advise an “A.S.A.P.” formula for cost-effective small business branding. “A.S.A.P.” is both an acronym and an adjective: not only does each letter stand for a key component to your branding platform (e.g., “A” = “Advantage”), it also refers to the speed and efficiency with which you can successfully gain brand traction using these simple guidelines.
The “A.S.A.P.” branding model:
A = Advantage (Content of your Message)
S = Style (Style of your Message)
A = Adjective (Verbal Cue to your Message.)
P = PMS Color (Visual Cue to your Message.)
In this article, I’ll expand upon “Style.”
SECOND STEP: What’s Your Style?
Essentially, this step involves determining the right image for your company. A professional visual image is critical to your success. After all, your image – as reflected in the design and copywriting style of your business cards, marketing materials and website – is the first and sometimes only chance you have to introduce your company to potential customers.
So how do you select the right image for your company? Are you progressive? Innovative? Reliable? Your image should reflect your brand’s personality and account for industry norms, your customer’s expectations and defining attributes of your products and services. As with your “Advantage” (see last month’s article), it’s best to keep it simple.
This is a great image category for brands that want to project creativity and flexibility. Many retail establishments and companies in the service industry fall into this category. Promotional materials should be creative and unique, featuring such design elements as curving lines and warm photography or illustration.
A “Corporate” image projects experience, strength and stability. For obvious reasons, virtually all banks fall into this image category. To reflect a “Corporate” image, marketing materials should be conservative in tone and design – never trendy or surprising. Straightforward, easy-to-read fonts like Helvetica and Times and lots of white space work well for this style.
Not surprisingly, this image projects innovation and technological expertise. Promotional materials should be exciting and dynamic. Designs might incorporate italicized fonts, bold graphics and energetic photography.
Most likely your brand personality includes some attributes of one image category and some of another. However, you should have more of one category’s qualities than the others. (If you don’t, ask yourself if you are trying to be all things to all people.) It is important that you choose only one style for your brand. Your customers need to file your brand in their minds into just one “style” slot, so they can retrieve it quickly and easily.
Choosing a style is critical to your branding efforts whether you plan to outsource the design of your materials or do it yourself. Professional designers rely on the adjectives you use to describe your brand when selecting design elements for your piece. Additionally, copywriters take your image into account when they choose a tone for your piece. If you are acting as your own copywriter, it is important that the style of your writing (tone) complements the design style of your piece. In other words, the copy and the design of your materials should match, and both are based off the brand image you choose to project.
Once you’ve got the content and style of your message down, you’re on your way!
Author Note: John Williams is Founder and President of LogoGarden.com.