I have just read a memo from a client’s supplier about an update to their corporate style guide.
The article explains the value of the style guide, with comments such as “maintaining a consistent look and feel to all materials was crucial in maintaining a positive and lasting impression of the organisation.”
Comprehensive style guide
As is often the case, the article discusses the design elements of the brand (such as where the logo goes on letterheads, forms and advertising). Designers often prepare (or advice on) a style guide that is actually a design style guide; a comprehensive corporate style guide will include all elements of the brand style such as spelling and punctuation conventions and writing style.
They also make the mistake of using the word brand instead of logo – brand is so much more than a logo.
For true consistency, a style guide must include everything. It can then be split into components for specific uses – such as pulling out the website design section for a web designer or the logo and colours for a form designer.
In case you are working on your style guide, here are some of the key points this article mention about use of their logo to get you thinking more broadly.
Have you considered all those issues for your logo and included them in a style guide?
Unless you are a web designer, I strongly recommend you do not design your own website.
Yes, software is fairly easily available to make it possible, but don’t let that fool you into thinking anyone can design a decent (let alone good) website. Website design is more than choosing colours and putting the content on a page with a few links to a shopping cart or a blog. Even a good eye for design may not be enough as websites have specific requirements as well as coding issues.
And doing it yourself isn’t likely to be cheaper either. It may not cost you in terms of paying an invoice, but it will take a lot hours that you can’t invoice for and a low quality result can cost you in customers.
Enough of the negatives, and on to how to manage your design (or redesign)…
This post is part of Word Constructions’ Setting up a website series
1. having a website helps more than you
2. what’s involved in setting up a website?
3. Learn about web hosting
4. Preparing your initial website content
Heading to Canberra in winter generally got a response along the lines of “but it’s so cold why go there now?” I know last time I went there in winter (for a conference some years ago) it was also freezing so I was expecting the worst this trip – and yes it was very cold.
Talking to people in Canberra, I got comments like “but you’re from Melbourne! You must be used to cold!” as people in Canberra and Sydney seem to have this idea that Melbourne is colder.
Reality – one city must be the colder place (or they are equally cold) but both places perceive the other as colder. The facts may be available but perceptions are strong and especially if held by a number of people.
So it is important to get a feel for how people perceive your business rather than assuming it is seen the way you want it to be seen. Social media is a great tool for measuring perceptions, but it is not the only tool available to you.
If you are not communicating the image you want, you can then change how you are miscommunicating but it may take some time to change perceptions.
By the way, Melbourne had it’s coldest night in years recently – it was 2.8. Every night we were in Canberra it was below zero – there was still thick ice on the windscreen at 9.30 one morning and I was told it was -3 mid-morning one day! If you are from Canberra, does that change your perception of Melbourne?
Giving facts alone is not going to build (or correct) the brand you want – you have to blend everything to give the right perceptions, too.
Do you use email marketing for your business? Let’s face it, it can be highly effective and relatively cheap so is always worth considering.
No matter how great your email is, though, you need to support it on your website – and this is something many people forget so here are some tips for you:
If you looked at your latest email campaign and the related web pages, would you see the connection or would they clash? Try the above tips as a testing process and see if you can’t improve the campaign for next time.
Last month I wrote about selecting good business partners, so it was interesting to come across an article about presenting your business as a ‘good catch’ – in other words, making your business stand up to the type of close scrutiny to put on others.
So how good a catch do you think your business is? What areas most need some finesse to truly stand out?
Some of the areas I’ve covered in the past include
Yesterday, I wrote about an online form (on a major company’s website I will add) that only appeared to offer me any choices when filling it in.
It would be nice to say that was the only issue with their form but the whole thing looked unprofessional and inappropriate to me – not something they can be proud of and use to enhance their relationship with me. And let’s face it – if I am making a complaint, they really need to be impressing me to rebuild our relationship if they want me to continue as a customer. Continue reading
Aside from the content of the survey itself, it is very important that any surveys or feedback forms are well prepared in other ways.
I just answered a survey that included at least three of the following mistakes and it has left with me with the impression that those business owners don’t care about details or consistency – so why would I trust them with promoting my business (their apparent service)?
So before you make a survey available to your customers, check how it presents and do a test run to see it really does work – better yet, get someone else to do the test run for you.
Once you are confident you have good questions and a well prepared survey/questionnaire, the next step is to announce and promote it appropriately. Remember that many people won’t fill in the survey just because you want them to – you have to give them a reason to want to do it themselves.
And then make sure you make use of your survey results!
Use your words wisely!