Why Your Business Needs Brand Guidelines

So what exactly are brand guidelines? Essentially, they are a set of rules that explain how your brand looks and feels at every touch point. They are a roadmap of information surrounding the personality and values of the brand. Brand guidelines incorporate the colors & fonts, logos, and other brand essentials that help define the brand’s identity. Now let’s dive into the importance of these bad boys!

Differentiation

To be successful, your brand needs to build awareness and develop trust and loyalty with customers. The best way to do this is to ensure that all creative pieces are cohesive. Nowadays, consumers are constantly being exposed to competing brands so now more than ever, these guidelines are crucial to help your business stand out amongst all of the noise.

The two best ways to differentiate your brand from competitors are by: 1) maintaining consistency within your own brand identity and 2) using a unique voice and look. The process of creating brand guidelines helps to bring up pivotal questions about the essence of your business.

Consistency

Consistency is key with anything, but especially with your brand identity - it should never be left up to interpretation. If something you put out doesn’t look like the rest of your brand, people WILL notice. These guidelines aren’t set up to stifle creativity and make everything look starkly similar, but to ensure that all creative is sending the proper messaging and is effective in achieving the goals that are set in place for the business.

Standards & Rules

Brand guidelines establish rules that ensure all elements of the brand are used consistently throughout all creative pieces. They support marketing strategies by ensuring that all messaging is relevant and related to brand goals. This creates a strong brand identity that resonates with consumers, which helps increase overall awareness. Take Coca-Cola for example - they’re a brand that focuses on building happiness. Everything about their brand evokes positive emotion  from their bright red cans to their classic font and personalized products. Consumers know who Coke is can clearly differentiate a marketing campaign for their brand versus another soft drink brand. This kind of consistency and recognition is exactly what brand guidelines are for.

Brand guidelines are also extremely helpful for designers. They allow them to understand what and how to use specific elements such as logos, colors & fonts, spacing, and imagery. Setting these rules also help new employees who don’t yet know the true identity of your brand and what all it encompasses. Obviously it’s helpful for them to look through previous pieces, but giving them a guide that explains how to properly use the elements of your brand will help stave off any issues and set them (and your brand) up for success!

Voice

Brand guidelines give your brand a voice and point of view. A great way to help distinguish this is to play a game we like to call “This or That.” We’ll suggest different describing words and our clients will tell us where on the spectrum they believe their brand lies.

Is your brand funny or serious?

Is your brand soft or bold?

Is your brand modern or classic?

Is your brand demure or edgy?

Now think about this: if you think your brand is funny, what kind of funny is it? Do you want a corny joke or pun involved in every creative piece or do you want your brand to focus on more intelligent humor? This might sound funny, but it really helps to distinguish the heart and soul of a brand. You’d be surprised how often we ask clients to name 5 adjectives about their brand and they can’t! Even when they can, the question is would your employees and customers name the same adjectives? This is a crucial step, so make sure to really think about the true essence of your brand!

Creating Brand Guidelines

Creating brand guidelines can be a massive undertaking. Besides establishing a voice for your business you need to consider a color palette, fonts, imagery, logo, and several other elements to create a truly useful set of guidelines for an impactful brand. It’s not impossible, but it is time consuming. Elysium Marketing Group has created several brand guidelines for various clients in very different fields, and each time it’s a journey deep into the heart of the brand to ensure the final product clearly defines the voice, essence, and identity of each brand. Whether you’re creating a new brand or re-branding an already established brand, we’ll ensure you have the tools you need for a strong brand that meets its business goals.

Contact us to see how we can help move the process along!

What I've Learned In My Three Years As a Marketing Consultant and Business Owner

As Elysium celebrates its third birthday and we enter our fourth year, I’m reflecting on my time as both a business owner and a marketing consultant. Much like how I feel when it’s one of my kid’s birthdays, in some ways it seems that Elysium should be much older, and in other ways I can’t believe it’s already been three years. 

If I had to narrow it down to only three takeaways, these are the ones that stand out: 

1.     There are opportunities everywhere.

As a marketing consultant, you can’t help but judge - err - look at everyone’s marketing creative, messaging, and more with a sharp lens. And truthfully, sometimes you wish you could shut off that lens. We create menus, so you bet that every single time I’m in a restaurant I check out the layout, art direction, and more. I know my husband just loves this when we’re supposed to be out for date night (love you Phil!). But the same is true for logos, sales brochures, and any other piece of tangible or digital marketing. I find myself scrutinizing emails during the holidays and wondering why that subject line was chosen or who decided to use those two colors together. A lot of this judging is helpful when we work with our designers. We share the pieces we love for inspiration, and we share the pieces we don’t love as very clear “dont's.” 

Another opportunity is when we talk about what we do and our love for Elysium with our friends and family. They tend to share that love, and it’s a pretty awesome thing.  I’m already super excited for what 2018 is going to bring because I already have a new phenomenal client joining the Elysium team, a lead that came directly from an old boss, a meeting scheduled with a potential partner from a connection of my Dad’s, and a prospective client meeting from a Mom of one of my son’s friends. Elysium’s third year wouldn’t have been half as successful without the love, support, and encouragement from friends and family.

2.     You will find yourself doing things and in situations you never imagined (and loving every second of it.)

No, this isn’t like an - all of a sudden I was on Broadway situation - but when you and your team whole-heartedly invest yourselves into a client’s success, and see yourselves as a true part of the client team, you jump in to do anything possible to move the business forward. A couple of quick examples:

  • An investor meeting that we orchestrated for an organic skincare client
  • A focus group analyzing tampon use
  • A farm visit and a menu tasting for every.single.item
  • A construction site of the largest observation wheel on the east coast

3.      No two days are ever the same.

I often get asked “What is your favorite part of your job?” and more times than not my answer is that no two days are ever exactly the same. One day we will be launching a gorgeous website, another day we'll be onsite at a video shoot, and a third day we will be in an all-day strategy planning meeting. It's not all sunshine and roses everyday, but most days we're working together as a team to come up with strategic ideas and campaigns to better our client's sales. As Elysium continues to grow I’m trying to celebrate our successes more and truly learn from the challenges.

I know how lucky I am to be doing what I love everyday. And I know that these three years have flown by with a higher amount of good than bad days. I’m ready to continue learning, meeting amazing people, and celebrating the good stuff. Happy 3rd Birthday Elysium Marketing Group!   

 

Elysium Marketing Group Wins Top Marketing Consulting Agency!

We're excited and grateful that Elysium can now add award-winner to our portfolio!  

As you may know, Elysium Marketing Group has been providing high quality digital marketing services to clients in the greater Philadelphia area since 2015. However, today we’re excited to celebrate our designation as a Top Local Agency in Philadelphia by UpCity! We were selected as one of twenty-five companies in Philadelphia as a Top Marketing Consulting Firm. 

What Does This Mean?

UpCity’s Top Local Agency marketplace is a resource designed to connect small and medium sized local businesses with high-quality digital marketing service providers in their local area, allowing business owners to get the services they need quickly, from a service provider they can trust. The UpCity team independently reviews agencies across North America to determine the best service providers in each local market, ensuring that no matter where you are, great digital marketing services are never more than a click away.

To check out our profile and follow this link: https://upcity.com/local-marketing-agencies/profiles/elysium-marketing-group

We will continue to strive to bring our clients hands-on, strategic marketing creative and campaigns that move the needle and get real results. Thank you for being a part of Elysium's journey! 

Your Simple Social Media Guide for Business

1.     You should buy a vowel. A good checklist before you post is to run through the vowels -  Authority, Entertaining, Informative, Out of the Ordinary or Useful?

Authority –If you’re posting for your business, you should keep in mind that your posts are a reflection of your brand. To be seen as the authority in your industry, your posts should be used to demonstrate your leadership and knowledge, set you apart from your competitors, and show your unique selling propositions.  

Entertaining - People like to laugh, so using an entertaining post is always a good choice. If it’s a video that could double on America’s Home Video and is relatable to your business, (the boss is in it, your product is in it, etc) it will most likely be a successful post with people sharing it with their own connections.

Informative - If the post includes information that will make someone’s life easier, then it’s probably a good post. This includes traffic – (don’t take 76 because there are 36 accidents between Conshohocken & 676), weather (take an umbrella because it’s going to be wet one), and other breaking news (OMG –  Joan Rivers died.)

The best way to post this information is as soon as you know it, so you are first to market and not the 7,000th person to say the same thing. Once again the posts should relate to your business. If you are a venue or sponsor hosting an event, traffic news may be very helpful to your readers.

Out of the Ordinary – People like to see the unexpected. If there’s a picture of a bulldog “driving” your company tractor or a bus on fire on the highway while you’re driving to a conference, people will be intrigued to learn more about what’s going on.  

Useful – If the post explains how to do something related to your business (build a shed if you are a tool or wood company, put on smoky eye makeup if you are a makeup, wedding, or brush company, etc) then people find it helpful and are more likely to share or like the post.

 

2.     Does the post have a good image accompanying it?

People LOVE to see other people. Facial expressions make us feel something: happy, sad, mad, glad….all the “ad” words. Instead of showing a picture of an inanimate product, show people using and enjoying that product. If you are a service, it’s even more important to use people in your posts, so it humanizes your services and your brand.  If you show an inanimate product or place, make sure the quality is good and what’s being shown is clear and understandable.

Other things people love to see are adorable babies, cute animals, and celebrities. If you have a picture of Beyonce holding a chubby baby in one hand and a cute bunny in the other, it’s a winner! And if your CEO is posing next to Ms. B with his or her arm around her, it’s a REAL winner.

Posts with pictures have a substantially higher share rate than posts without. Images should be high quality and show your product and colleagues in a good and professional light.

 

3.     Does the post exude exclusivity?

People love to see behind-the-scenes. Anything that the general public cannot normally see would be a good item to post (unless you have rules or obligations under confidentiality agreements, etc). If you have a pic showing beautiful food being prepped by the chef, speakers being mic-ed, or a special packaging being used on a product, post it and explain what’s going on and why it’s important to your brand. Readers want to be the first to know, the first to share, and the first to see the inner-workings behind products, events, or occasions.  

 

4.     Is the post on-brand?

This is an important thing to keep in mind. Even if the post is humorous, exclusive, or informative, if it’s off-brand, it’s not a good post for your company. Brand Guidelines should dictate what the general brand tone, messaging and identity are, so they are a good place to start when considering if a post is on-brand or not.

Keep in mind what you want your company to be known for, what you want your business goals to be, and how your company is different from the rest. How can your posting ultimately drive traffic to your business? If you’re ecommerce, your beautiful pictures of your products should drive people online to purchase those products. If you’re B2B, your posts should show that you are the expert in that field.

A lot of this is common sense, but sometimes it’s easy to reactively post on Social Media, or scramble for content without actually taking time to ensure that you are posting for a good reason, eventually leading back to sales for your company.

Elysium Marketing Group can help you create the perfect social media strategy, minus the stress! Explore some of our work here.

 

Target Marketing: A Cautionary Tale

Last week I wrote about a direct marketing experience I had that was a prime example of good target marketing.  I received a catalogue from Oriental Trading about 1st birthday parties. It was targeted to me because my son is turning one. This week I want to discuss targeting gone awry.

The last name of my household is Chang. This happens to be a very popular Chinese last name, but could also be a Korean or other Asian ethnicity last name. A marketer might look at our last name and think, they speak and read Chinese, but that marketer is taking a gamble.

About once a month, our household receives a letter from Verizon with Chinese on the front and back of the envelope and on the actual letter. At first I thought, ok our last name could be a Chinese name, so it makes sense that they want to win our business by using both Chinese and English in their acquisition letter.

But, the reality is that my husband is Korean, and no one in our household can read or speak Chinese. And the other reality is that even if Verizon sent us a letter in Korean, my husband would probably need to look at the English portion to truly understand the meaning of the letter.  

Let’s look at the possible scenarios:

o   Best Case Scenario – We are a Chinese household that can and prefers to read and speak Chinese. And if we’re looking for new Internet & TV, score for Verizon!

o   Likely Scenario – We are a Chinese family that does not speak or read Chinese. We may appreciate the targeting or we may not, but no harm or foul.

o   Likely Scenario 2 – We are not Chinese, but an Asian family who does not read or speak Chinese. (Our family falls into this category). Eventually this type of targeting can get annoying.

o   Possible Scenario - We are not an Asian family and we don’t speak Chinese. In this day and age, names don’t always determine ethnicity.

Verizon is using our last name to segment us, but they don’t have enough information to know whether they are actually targeting us correctly. Even if we were a Chinese household, there’s a chance we don’t speak or read Chinese. Ultimately, they are wasting money by continuously sending us letters in Chinese. The pricing and offers may vary, but I wouldn’t know that for certain because the letters now go directly from the mailbox into the recycle bin. Changing up those variables (pricing and offer) does nothing for their marketing strategy in this case.

I think it’s safe to say it’s probably time for Verizon to try something else. It might make sense to send us a letter in English. It’s best practice in marketing to test offer, messaging, and creative, but sometimes you need to change up the way you’re looking at your target audience by testing the actual segments you’re putting people in.  

 

*Full disclosure: I worked for Comcast for 3.5 years