Having an established online brand identity is a cornerstone of your business. Your business’s story needs to convey a visual identity, style guide, and strategy. It should align with your brand and customer expectations.
But what happens to your business when your style and brand strategy do not work well together? According to the Workfront Global Market 2020 Report, brands need to remove obstacles that limit creativity and business growth. The report stresses that only 19% of digital marketing professionals create or contribute to marketing strategies.
Instead, digital marketing teams focus on other unrelated office tasks. So, how can you or your team stay focused? How can you create a meaningful and successful online brand identity?
A style guide is your first step. Read on to discover important digital marketing tips. These ideas will provide your business the strategy and inspiration it needs.
Identifying Your Buyer Persona
Your first marketing strategy is to identify your ideal buyer persona. A buyer persona is the imaginary representation of your customer. Some brands identify key buyer characteristics such as earning potential, gender, or other important demographics.
But the most successful and detailed buyer personas dive deeper. To create a buyer persona, do not just think of the basic attributes or demographics of your ideal client, but actually tell their story.
Don’t just write “hard-working mother of three children.” Instead, create a persona with a name, a real title, and what drives or motivates this person.
Is this mother stretched thin taking the kids to soccer practice? Is she a stay-at-home mother or professional? What are her pain points?
Buyer personas may seem like a time-consuming pursuit but they can have significant returns on your business investment. Buyer personas can help increase your overall profits.
How Buyer Personas Support Your Business
All this from a customer description? You bet! When you understand who your business is serving, what their needs are, and how they actually function, you can tailor your product or services to that exact description.
So how can you create the ultimate buyer persona? Here are some tips:
Research Your Clients
Collect as much data about your clients as possible. Some ideas include sending out email surveys or employing email marketing strategies.
You can also use your client contact list to make phone calls. The organized data will begin to show some patterns about your ideal clients.
What Do Your Clients Need?
Does your client need a product or service? Will this product or service help make their lives easier?
To grow as a business, you must be in demand. Identify where your demand can align with your clients.
Time to Create
Now that you have collected data and identified your client’s needs, you can create your buyer personas. Some companies like to turn these buyer personas into stories that identify the customer. Others create efficient bullet-point lists.
Whatever your buyer persona style, you can now pinpoint exactly who your company serves.
Establishing Your Style Guide
After you have identified your ideal client and their exact needs, you can tailor your style guide to match those expectations or attributes. A style guide, sometimes called a brand bible, can drive your digital marketing strategy.
A style guide is an extremely useful tool for businesses because it helps define your operations, strategies, and goals. Most importantly, the style guide positions your brand, establishes the recognition, and helps to open communication and loyalty with your customers.
So what should your style guide include? Let’s dive in to learn how a style guide and brand strategy collide.
Your Vision and Values
Every business should have a vision statement or set of values. A vision statement not only sets the tone for your business but can create a line of communication directly to your customers. According to a Bain Company survey, companies who created and used their vision statements scored more consistently in higher satisfaction levels with customers.
In summary, a vision statement tells your customer your brand’s story and mission. But a vision statement is also helpful for identifying your company’s corporate culture and connecting with employees.
Vision statements quickly but effectively identify what your business stands for and what your values are. Vision statements and values are key links to your overall brand strategy.
Do you know your communication style? For example, does your digital marketing team create quirky social media copy? Or does your business require formal email marketing strategies?
Knowing your communication style may seem obvious, but executing it in each step of your style guide is another story. Companies can identify their communication style and leverage consistency by creating communication guides or company handbooks. This can help your digital marketing team and employees stay on target.
Your font choices can speak a thousand words. For example, if you are a start-up marketing agency, is a standard Times New Roman font really connecting with your young and innovative client base? Oppositely, if you run a law firm, does a fun and bold font look appropriate on the client’s case files?
Your font style needs to match your business operations and your client’s expectations. Font style helps to tell your company’s story and overall brand strategy.
Your company logo matters more than you think. Unless you have a graphic design team on hand, you may need to outsource the logo design. Like font style, your logo will need to align with your business objectives and your client’s expectations.
When designing or upgrading your logo, consider these elements: artwork and readability. If using artwork, does the image work with your business?
And finally, how does the logo read? Is it recognizable or attractive? These are all important questions your clients will pose.
Colors may seem like an insignificant factor but can highly impact your brand awareness and influence customer loyalty. Can you think of any big global brands where a specific color comes to mind? Tiffany & Co. iconic “tiffany blue” is a great example.
Social Media Plans
Your business may have a developed social media plan. But are you using a style guide to streamline your social channels? A style guide can help create social media content that appears curated and organized.
For example, if your main social media business platform is Instagram, make sure that your messaging, graphics, and photos tell a cohesive story. Does the caption tone from post to post match?
Are you mixing stock images with personal photography? A social media plan for your style guide helps to tell your customer the same visual story and create a brand identity online.
Customers expect consistency. A Marketing Week story identifies companies like Louis Vuitton that have achieved brand consistency for nearly 200 years. This has created millions of loyal followers on social media and in-store shoppers.
Brand consistency helps ease your customer’s pain points or concerns because they recognize the dependability of your product or service. Brands can promote consistency by developing core competencies. You can leverage brand consistency by following the style guide steps above and holding your business accountable to fulfill each task.
For example, having brand consistency throughout your logo design, typography choices, and social media plan creates alignment. This consistency tells your customer one story and makes your brand instantly recognizable and dependable.
It All Comes Together
So where do your style guide and brand strategy align? Your follow-through and consistency! It’s one thing to create a style guide, but these steps must be implemented and consistent in your marketing plan.
Need some ideas to hold your business accountable? Consider creating a calendar or shared checklist for your style guide. Identify employees or teams who can manage the list.
Schedule team and group meetings to hold each other accountable for maintaining the style guide and practicing brand consistency. This ensures all functions of your business are on the same page and delivering what your customers expect.
Value of Aligned Style Guide and Brand Strategy
A successful style guide may seem daunting to create. But your business likely has the resources and ideas already prepared. Regardless of what step you are at in the style guide process, it is important to keep this guide at the ready to help drive or improve your digital strategy.
Internally, a style guide helps your business function better because it creates an organized process, checklist, and expectation for your company. Externally, a style guide aligns your brand strategy. This helps communicate the consistency and dependability of your brand to your customers.
An aligned style guide and brand strategy prove you have done the client and market research to identify your customer’s pain points or concerns and deliver beyond their expectations.
On the lookout for other marketing strategies or branding ideas? Contact us today and learn how we can help.