Policing your company brand

By Adrián Martin

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Graphic design Branding

Why is it important to police a brand?

A brand is the outward facing representation of the personality of a business and is an incredibly important tool to any successful business. By using a strong brand, a customer can identify you, develop trust and build positive associations. A 'brand' is built on expectation and experience. In its simplest form, it is the association people make when they see, hear or think of your organisation or product. (Read more on: Why are brands so important?)

'Policing a brand' is the term used to define the process of ensuring clear and consistent brand communications to your customer and thus having more control over the experiences and associations people have with your business.

What makes up your brand?

A brand is communicated through everything presented to the customer and in every contact people have with your company. This includes the use of the following:

  • A logo
  • Fonts (typography)
  • Corporate colours / marks and themes
  • Tone of voice and use of language
  • A strapline
  • The overall look and feel of the business (stationery, shop fronts, uniforms etc)
  • How staff interact with customers (over the phone/face to face etc)
  • A consistent application of all the above to anything your customers will see

Policing your brand

It is of huge importance to have a process that helps ensure consistent and effective brand communications. The larger the business, the harder and more urgent that becomes. Failing to control how your brand is presented to the market can create consumer confusion and damages the strength of its message.

Depending on the size of the business, some companies will hire or appoint a member of staff to ensure that the face of the business is 'on brand', ensuring the 'look', styling and tone of your brand identity is being kept consistent and correct across the board.

Consistency is the key! Ensure that all contact a customer has with your brand is consistent with your brand guidelines. Everything must be presented flawlessly so that your organisation is perceived as professional and trustworthy.

Here is a quick checklist to help

Logos - Make sure that the logo is correct on everything and is not squashed or compressed. Try to keep the position of the logo the same such as on stationery, marketing materials etc. Have a look at your corporate guidelines for advice.

Fonts - A consistent use of font creates a professional image that your audience will recognize and trust. Use the same fonts on everything you present to your customers.

On some occasions you may not be able to use a particular font, such as on an email footer, website or Eshot. This is because you have to use 'websafe fonts' meaning that the vast majority of people will be able to display it in their browsers. If, for example your corporate font is Bliss, use a similar 'websafe' font such as Calibri or Arial and stick to it on all electronic forms of communication.

Colours and Themes - Every brand should have a colour palette to adhere to, stick to these colours and make sure that any imagery such as icons and photography are in keeping with the brand. The colour palette and choice of imagery should be chosen specifically to convey the right message to the right audience.

Tone of Voice / Language - The way you talk to your customers is important. If you are a law firm, a highly professional, intelligent tone of voice should be used, or if you are a company like Innocent Smoothies, you should stick to a more informal tone. The presentation of your employees and the way they interact with customers is also very important and equally a big part of the overall brand.

Using brand guidelines

Brand guidelines provide a detailed set of instructions in presenting the key visual elements of the brand, such as the position of the logo on a page, the colour palette that is available and the fonts you should use.

Most design agencies will supply these guidelines when the brand is first rolled out. Ensure that you reference these when policing your brand.

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