Charities: How to improve on your existing branding
Here are four quick tips on how you can stay on top of your own existing brand.
1. Write some rules
We at White Fuse Media spend quite a bit of time creating detailed brand guidelines for our clients but there’s no reason why you can’t create your own slim line version in few hours.
To maintain visual consistency across your various channels of communication try writing your own brief set of rules and circulating them around your team.
Here’s what we suggest including:
- A summary of your charitable objectives as a reminder of who you are and what you do.
- A description of your ‘tone of voice’, the style of writing you want to achieve.
- A list of the fonts you regularly use. You’d be amazed how substituting a font can change the entire look of a document in an instant.
- A list of the appropriate colours to use. This one is a bit more tricky as you might not be able to find the precise references for your colours. There are some great sites for identifying colours. Try out Adobe Kuler.
There are loads of other details you could include but this is a good start.
2. Gather all your existing collateral into one place
Our brand guidelines often contains copies of all the related print design as well as example web pages and other online media. The purpose of this is to set a precedent, this appendix is a broad demonstration of the brand in action. All of those rules that we mentioned last week will in theory be followed in all of this collateral.
A simple way of getting on the right path with achieving consistency is to keep a master folder of previously designed collateral somewhere, either in electronic or printed formats. If people can get into the habit of checking these folders before embarking on any design work it will help to reinforce the brand aesthetic rather than undermine it.
The thing to watch out for of course is design gremlins. You’ll need to keep an eye on quality control because if a rushed poster or untidy leaflet finds its way into the file it may undermine the whole process and lead future pieces of work astray.
3. Make your logo freely accessible and give guidance on it's usage
This may sound counter intuitive, but giving your logo away for free to partner organisations, associates or fundraisers is great for publicity. If someone wants to use your logo, by hook or by crook they’ll find it! So rather than keeping it sacred and forcing them to use a low-resolution version scraped from your website header why not give them a nice big, colourful, usable one?
We include a comprehensive set of rules about logos in our brand guidelines. To share your logo well, we’d recommend including a brief summary of your brand guidelines. Even if you can’t easily demonstrate it graphically, you can write in clear English ‘don’t stretch, squash, discolour, add words, change fonts, etc.’ Obviously people can ignore this and still ruin your logo but in our experience most people will honour these simple requests if they’re given the chance to read them.
Another thing you can do is give away relevant versions of your logo. If your logo is designed to work in more than one orientation or against multiple background colours, provide them all so that people won’t be forced to make the amendments themselves.
- Why not try a Google image search for your own logo and see how many images turn up? How different are they? Do they all look the same colour and of good quality? Now try and search for a well-known brand. Here’s a couple of searches we did to illustrate the point, Action for Children and Comic Relief. You can see how consistent they are despite appearing on hundreds of different sites, but also spot the logo gremlins and how they detract from the brand - there are always a few!).
4. Create master template files
This takes tip two (above) to the next step. If you create a master template for all of your documents you can have a huge impact on brand consistency across the organisation. No more digital Chinese whispers.
Microsoft have made software that almost everyone uses yet they probably only use 5-10% of it’s capabilities. Here are a few tips for setting up a helpful word template:
- Use styles. I cannot stress this enough. USE STYLES! If you use Word a lot and don’t know what these are then give us a call and we will change your world. In a nutshell, styles enable you to set up default attributes for every part of your document like font size, colour and weight across paragraphs, headings, tables, bullets and more. This will save you sooooo much time reformatting documents and more importantly will keep everything consistent.
- That was it really, styles. Oh and then there’s the page master. This is where you can define headers, footers, page numbers or even watermarks that appear on every page.
- Smart text. This is a generic term I’ve just come up with to cover date and time, table of contents, formulas, captions and the like. These are all ways of inserting items that will automatically update when you change things in your document so you don’t have to go and keep modifying things yourself.
- Lastly, if you’re feeling ambitious, have a look at templates. Saving a ‘template file’ enables you to store all your preset styles and information in a read only template document you can then share with the team. One of the best things about this is if you update the template with a new font style, ALL of your existing documents will adopt the changes, pretty cool.
That’s just a starter. Do get in touch if you need more help.