How do I maintain brand consistency?

3568377“I have the challenge,” my contact said, “of keeping brand consistency in my organization.”

And indeed, it is a challenge.  The person that spoke those words to me was the marketing director at a private organization, which had several staff members and departments, each of them responsible for assembling their own print needs.  But the challenge this person had was keeping the brand look – colors, logos, sizes, even the organization’s name – consistent from department to department.   This person was also further challenged in that each department would and could create files for print using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and even Publisher, and submit them for various print needs.  That was, in my opinion, an unenviable job.

SET THE STANDARDS

The first thing to do is set the standards, creating either a document that is accessible to all employees on the company server, or if the company is small enough, creating a booklet or binder that has the standards set in them.  You would need to make sure that the document has illustrations showing proper usage.  This document would cover the following:

  • Logo variance: which logos are available and in what configurations.think_brick
  • Logo usage: where you can and more importantly CANNOT use logos; additional copy to use with a logo.
  • Corporate color: establish the PMS (Pantone Matching System) color or colors of your logo, or, in the Microsoft environment, advising users which color in the various color palettes CAN be used.
  • Fonts: which font or fonts can be used, and which CANNOT be used.  Often, the simplest way to manage this is to make sure all computers have the fonts loaded, and remove any fonts that are not acceptable.
  • Mission Statement or tagline: often, companies have mission statements, which they want to have as a part of anything released from the company.  Or they may have a one sentence or few words tagline that has to be a part of each and every document released.
  • Pre-formatted email signatures: with email being the primary means of client interaction, having a uniform look to the email signature is vital, and can be set up easily in Outlook.

Once you have the document in place, you can have folders on the server that are accessible to all employees that have the approved logos or other branded materials in the formats they need to have to use them.  To set up email signatures, you can have them set up as defaults in Outlook, and then have your IT team add any special ones users may want, but within accepted guidelines.

WE HAVE TEMPLATES FOR THAT?

brochure_template_sampleThe next step, particularly if you work in the Microsoft environment, is to create templates.  These can be Word, PowerPoint, Excel and even Publisher documents that have headers and footers in place, banners in place (say for a 4-page newsletter in Publisher), and other key brand elements, so all the users need to do is fill in and write the copy.  You can protect the documents so only specific areas such as text fields can be editable, while all else remains consistent.  Also, make sure that each user has Adobe PDF set up as a print driver on their computers, with the print parameters preset by you, so they can save documents as PDFs, or print them as PDFs.

I CAN DO THIS ONLINE?  THAT WAS EASY!

Another method is to partner with a print or marketing services provider who has a web-sva-screenshotto-print solution in place, and can create templates for you that will allow the users to log in and create the documents they need, and either download as PDFs, print as PDFs to their desktop printers, or even order them as printed items.  Obviously, there are costs associated to this, but these costs can be tied into budgets online, which can control the amount of files or printed pieces a department can order, based on a predetermined budget.  You can also have control of content by being the approver, which allows you to see PDFs of all created items, and either approve, or request changes, before it’s printed or downloaded as a PDF.  The benefit of this, over all other aspects, is that you can create the InDesign templates with the correctly branded items

Doing any and all of these steps can greatly decrease the problems associated with multiple users creating documents with your company’s branded look.  While it may be a great deal of work and design to create the templates, the payoff will be consistency in how everything looks, from a simple letterhead to a large banner promoting an upcoming event.

Connect with John on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at www.ricreativemag.com
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