So, it’s been about a week since you last read up on branding, and I’m sure you’ve done your homework and discovered that perhaps not everyone in your office (and in the field) is delivering your company’s message. Here are my top 5 tips for making branding your company accessible to everyone and to (nicely) trick your employees into delivering the message without even thinking about it.
1. Take a look at all the printed or emailed information you and your employees/coworkers are sending over correspondence with clients. Does it all have the newest logo? Did you check the supply closet to make sure there are no hidden boxes of old letterhead with an old logo hiding in the back? I had an instance where there was one coworker who still knew where the old letterhead was hiding. And you can bet he was using it. I had substantial guilt over wasting a huge box of letterhead, so we donated it to a day care that was looking for scrap paper for the kids to draw on.
2. Prepare a standard email signature that the whole company will use. Send it out to everyone with instructions to copy and paste, change your info to be theirs, and how to make the inline email link say their name and not yours. Be specific – you’ll have some questions. Or you’ll have a lot of questions. When clients open an email from your company, from any employee in any office anywhere, they will immediately have the immediate recognition of your company logomark and color(s). It’s subtle, but it makes a difference. Also, I would recommend that after you do this you should still send an email out to a test group of your employees/coworkers and make sure everyone implemented the new system. There’s always one person who really prefers to have the pink flowery background behind those boring invoicing emails, but that is not the professional impression you want your staff to make. Flowery backgrounds (unless part of your brand!) should be reserved for personal emails.
Image from Buzzfeed.
3. Make your fonts match. On everything! Including the fonts your employees use for email correspondence. Your fonts should relate to the fonts in your logo (if it involves text) and as a general rule, don’t use more than two. If your logo has a sans serif font (like this font I’m using here) then pick a complimentary serif (like times roman or garamond – they have feet on the bottom) font to use with it. Or just stick to the one font if you are having a hard time choosing a secondary font. Stay away from kitschy fonts (like comic sans, cooper black, papyrus, things that will look dated or childlike) since I’m assuming you’re probably an a/e/c industry professional or some sort of small business owner. If you happen to be selling dog clothes or Beanie Babies, then feel free to enter the kitsch zone.
4. This seems pretty simple, but is your logo on your building? Your building’s front door? Behind your front desk? Stick it everywhere that is tastefully appropriate. Reinforce the message. Are you submitting articles to trade publications when you have a project going really well? Make sure you include a jpg of your logo. Every bit of repetition that is received by your audience in a positive tone is a form of advertising. Offer your guests coffee while they wait under your giant logo and make sure they are comfortable. Deliver quick responses to emails with your corporate email signature, if only to say that you are working on the information they requested. All the positive reinforcement will help your clients associate your brand with good service and a quality product.
5. Are you thanking your clients? No? Time to do so. Take some time to write a handwritten note on a professionally printed company thank you card. Send holiday cards – and of course they should house your logo. Send a gift basket that you put together – include some wine/cookies/puppies/whatever, company promotional trinkets and a note on company letterhead. Is your client pregnant? Getting married? Send a small gift from the company. I bet a $25 gift card to Target signed by everyone will be a unique touch to the client relationship. Be the company that truly appreciates its clients. These notes will get pinned on a bulletin board or lost in the shuffle, but you can bet they will be found during a clean-up later and bring back the reminder of your polite gratitude.
I’m going to give you a bonus number 6. It’s particularly important to the “everyone is a brand ambassador” goal.
6. Take some time to visit your field folks. Are they wearing company shirts? I assume if they are still employed by your company they are hard workers and dedicated employees. Get them some shirts so their field supervisors (who probably don’t work for your company) can quickly associate your employee’s good habits with your company. Take a few minutes to talk to the field staff and make sure they know what the company message and vision are. Make sure they know how to answer the questions people might ask them, such as: What kind of company do you work for? Who’s the owner? Where are you headquartered? Do you offer other professional services? You’d be surprised how often the field folks have no idea how to answer these questions, but not because they don’t want to – they just haven’t been told.
Stay tuned, I have a lot more for you!