Online marketing is more than “selling a web presence”. It combines several disciplines, including optimization (search engine and conversion), copywriting, strategic content development and much, more. No matter what type of campaign you embark on, you have to keep the power of brand in mind.
Actually – you have to keep the power and the story of brand in the very front of your mind.
Have you heard that saying, “Character is what you do when no one is watching”? Well, brand is sort of like that, but it’s more like, “Brand is what you do when you think no one is watching, but in reality everyone is, and your bottom line is going to take a hit for that really bad PR move you just made.”
Now, maybe you’re thinking, “I didn’t make a bad PR move. My public relations are just fine.” Well, that’s what McDonald’s thought… and Toyota… and Woody Harrelson.
The fact is that, no matter how bright and shiny you think your brand is, its character may be more tarnished than you expect. Unfortunately, the only way many companies find out the depth of distaste is publicly, once it’s too late to back out.
While you really can’t please everyone all the time, there is something you can do to “put a little spit and polish” on your brand character’s halo.
Develop the ultimate brand message guide.
First, this exercise isn’t as simple as writing out a sentence, or even a paragraph. Throughout the life of your business and online marketing efforts, you’ll be developing content, creating social campaigns, building links, drafting meta descriptions, page titles and so on. Depending on your industry, you may publish case studies, white papers or ebooks. You might create infographics, videos and podcasts.
In other words, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to deliver a positive brand message, or destroy the one you have. With this in mind, your guide will be in depth documentation on your brand. You’re creating a document that will be the ultimate resource for your entire team of marketing professionals to follow.
This document should contain things like:
- The ways your company/brand should be referenced in all outgoing material (i.e. BrandMessage, Brand Message, brandmessage, BM).
- Guidelines for images.
- Guidelines for videos.
- Guidelines for written content.
- Guidelines for website development.
- Guidelines for social activity.
- Contact information for the company’s Editor in Chief. This should be the person’s main job – to look over every piece of content that goes out.
Create a master content development guideline.
A master content development guideline doesn’t cover “what’s being posted where”, because that information changes depending on technology, available sites and company growth. A master guideline answers issues such as:
- Chain of command in the content development department
- Process of content creation for each type of content
- Pre-post checklist for blog post scheduling
- Editorial calendar
- Author bios, verified and approved by chain of command
- Minimum and maximum word count
- Clearly defined descriptions of the company’s activities
- Calendar for updating, recycling, repurposing content
Create a master brand guideline.
Your brand includes things such as logos, colors and tag lines. You can’t afford for these things to get skewed by an overeager intern. How do you combat this? By developing a master brand guideline. This document contains:
- All approved sizes of the company logo, including black/white and color versions.
- All approved colors, along with hexadecimal values.
- Company and CEO bios, verified and approved by chain of command
- Trademark information (if any)
Changing With Your Company
Now, your company may not have services. Your company may have products, and thousands of them. How does that work to keep your brand’s power growing? How do you add/change the documentation we’ve outlined to support that growth?
Well, you know your company best and, as we’ve said countless times before in regards to optimization, “There’s no cookie cutter solution.” The same applies to all aspects of marketing. Therefore, you have to be willing to put in the thought it takes to tweak the guidelines so they fit your business.
For example, if you have thousands of products, a master guideline on how these products should be displayed would be helpful:
- What backgrounds are to be used with the product images?
- How big should the images be?
- Do you put your company name in the corner, just your logo, or nothing?
- Are the product images on the left, or the right of the page?
- What’s the allowable word count for product descriptions?
Social media activities are another example. If your business is highly active on Twitter, a good master guideline would be what formats are allowed for links, or the approved hashtags. As a hint, having a specific set of hashtags (#) to be used makes social tracking much, easier!
Unlike the documentation you’re about to create, this article is a brief guideline, just to give you a starting point. The key is to make whichever documentation you create as in depth and useful to your marketing team as possible. Providing a unified front in all your online marketing efforts is the best way to keep your brand power going strong!