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Mildred CenterApril 062018

Your Brand Guide and Startup Marketing Essentials

Your Brand Guide—A road map for the consistent design of your collateral that adheres to your brand standards.

Creating a brand guide is a must, not only to guide yourself but also to give direction to anyone you hire to create design work for you. A brand guide supports your goal of conveying professionalism and credibility by giving a consistent look and feel to your collateral, which leads to familiarity with and recognition of your brand.

Your brand guide will:
  1. Specify logo placement (indicate that the logo is to be placed left, center, or right on a page).
  2. Indicate the amount of white space required around your logo.
  3. Provide a palette of colors that complement your logo, fonts, and image styles—all to further distinguish your brand.

Example shown is from Tesla's Brand Manual 2010.

Since your brand guide will officially define the creative standards for all of your collateral, I strongly recommend that you use an accomplished designer for your brand guide. Once those standards are established, the brand guide will enable someone who is not necessarily advanced in design methods or familiar with your business (such as a junior designer or freelancer) to provide you with design services that meet your brand standards.

Your logo applied to stationery

Business cards

Despite today’s emphasis on digital marketing, the business card remains a powerful, convenient marketing tool. When you attend a meeting, network at a conference, or meet someone who could benefit from your service or product, handing over your business card is just a matter of common sense. In Japanese culture, exchanging business cards is considered an important part of proper business etiquette. Referred to as “Meishi Kokan,” it even has a prescribed set of ritualistic guidelines for how to present and receive business cards. The card is handed to the recipient with care and respect, holding it firmly at chest level and grasping two corners between the thumbs and forefingers. Each person bows, reviews the card, and speaks the name to ensure they have the correct pronunciation. Although we don’t follow such intricate etiquette practices in the US, you should not neglect the importance of your business card.

Aside from providing your name, title, location, contact information, and website address, your business card often offers recipients the crucial first impression of your brand. The design, layout, and card stock reflects on your brand’s quality. Don’t skimp on this marketing investment.

Letterhead and envelopes

Although voicemail and email have become the most widely used forms of communication, don’t assume that letterhead is obsolete. Still regarded as the most formal format for business communication, letterhead has an inherent dignity, so you should consider having a small supply of letterhead and matching envelopes on hand.

Brochures

Do I need a brochure for my business if I have a website?

Brochures continue to be popular marketing and information tools. The most effective ones attract readers by using a professional layout that clearly demonstrates what you offer and its value to your audience. Following your brand guidelines for logo placement, color palette, and image style, a designer can provide a layout in a format that you can update over time. A copywriter can provide professional brochure copy to place in the layout, and you can stretch that investment by reusing the content on your website.

Website

Whether yours is a local brick-and-mortar business, an online e-commerce business, or a service business, your website allows instant engagement with your brand. Your business card will encourage people to visit your website to get more information about your credibility and professionalism. The same care that you take to ensure your business card represents you professionally should also be used for your website. The overall design should reflect your brand personality with color, engaging content, and a layout that encourages the viewer to interact with your brand. High quality is defined by creating an experience that influences the user to take a journey through your website—culminating in a repeat visit, sharing the site with others, or purchasing your service or product.

To be most effective, your home page (the first thing people see) should address three significant factors right away:

  1. Communicate clearly what you do and who you are
  2. Answer the “What’s in it for me?” question immediately
  3. Motivate visitors to take action by interacting with calls to action (CTAs) that encourage them to click and request more information or learn more about a product

Examples of Calls-to-Action (CTAs)


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