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C-Suite Advisory

Why CEOs Should Pay More Attention to Brand Design

BusinessMan

How much importance do you place on creating a consistent brand design? I bet it’s not enough. With the growing number of channels amplifying your brand’s message, employees struggling to do more with less, and the increased importance of design, it’s more important — and more difficult — than ever to ensure brand consistency at each step of the customer journey.

A strong and consistent brand can do wonders for your business. Research by Lucidpress and Demand Metric found that brand consistency leads to an average revenue increase of about 23%. Despite that return on investment, less than 10% of organizations believe they have consistent branding.

Inconsistent design confuses consumers and dilutes your core identity. A clear and consistent brand strategy, meanwhile, helps your company’s voice cut through the clutter to stand out from the competition.

Brand Design in a Complicated Consumer Experience

Modern organizations produce a staggering amount of content. The good news? Most companies prioritize design related to high-level strategy, including their brands’ visual identities, company tones, websites, and products.

The bad news? Those same companies fail to create consistent consumer experiences with smaller but critically important visual elements, such as presentations, case studies, infographics, and whitepapers. This critical oversight is a missed opportunity to form a strong connection with potential customers.

Many of today’s most important marketing channels — social media, display ads, and search — did not exist 15 or 20 years ago. With a high signal-to-noise ratio, these constantly evolving channels lead to muddled branding messages. What’s more, team members might be responsible for posting across various channels and platforms without specialization. It’s easy to see how a fast-paced work environment can create a lack of consistency.

We see this play out with sales teams, in particular. In the race to stay ahead and close more deals, salespeople “go rogue” with the content they create. They deviate from brand guidelines to quickly deliver whatever is needed for the next presentation. It’s understandable why a salesperson might not take the time to use the proper brand font or logo, but those concessions carry a high price: They dilute the overall brand and create inconsistent experiences for prospects and customers.

Achieving Brand Consistency

Brand consistency is a complex challenge in our tech-heavy environment. Digital natives expect and demand high-quality, consistent design across all devices and platforms.

It’s up to business leaders to prioritize brand consistency, which affects nearly every department of an organization. To ensure your brand’s design and message are consistent at each stage of the buyer’s journey, apply the following three strategies:

  1. Designate a brand guardian.
    Due to the nature of the modern customer journey, your company must be able to apply brand guidelines quickly and at scale across multiple channels, platforms, and touch points. A brand guardian can make this possible. Brand guardians prevent departments from going rogue by maintaining brand integrity and consistency across the company. Brand guardians work with team members to ensure the visual brand is applied consistently — at all touch points.Brand guardians are responsible for ensuring that all resources are updated, easily accessible, and built using the proper templates. A brand guardian can work closely with your executive team to establish, iterate, and maintain a set of guidelines that minimizes risk and maximizes brand equity. Once you’ve recruited a guardian, it’s time to craft those guidelines.
  2. Create clear brand guidelines.
    Kleiner Perkins’ 2016 Design in Tech Report shows that customers are six times more likely to make a purchase after a positive emotional experience and 12 times more likely to recommend a brand to their friends. Brand guidelines should outline how to tell your company’s story cohesively, consistently, and powerfully so that messaging can create emotional connections with prospects and customers.Don’t overthink this process; keep it simple by starting with a set of general rules about your company’s story, mission, brand voice, imagery, tone, logo, typography, and imagery. Team members should have easy access to your style guide and resource bank, which should both include real-world examples.
  3. Establish an automated approval process.
    To increase your speed to market and collaboration among teams, use software to develop an automated approval process for branded materials. This process ensures work is approved the same way every time, no matter who is doing it. By eliminating guesswork (and its related stress) from the equation, automation saves time, improves efficiency, and ensures projects remain on-brand.Automated approval processes can be especially useful during growth phases by moving projects forward without sacrificing consistency. Systems will vary by company, but most approval processes occur in a submission portal.

Brand consistency might not seem like a big-picture priority, but every C-suite leader should value the small details of design as a powerful force in the customer journey. Set your team members up for success by providing them with the tools they need to make consistent brand design a reality.


Written by Christopher Finneral.
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Christopher Finneral
Christopher Finneral is the CEO and founder of SketchDeck, a software-powered design service. With an innovative design platform, the talented, global design team focuses on the largest volume of design in business: everyday design. Christopher Finneral is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.
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