Style Guides – save time, reduce cost, look professional | Milner Strategic Marketing

Style Guides – save time, reduce cost, look professional

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What signal is your visual identity sending?

Unless you are hosting “Amateur Night at the Incompetent Society”, most organisations want to look professional. One simple but regular mistake companies make is they do not have a complete and up to date copy of their brand style guide available to all who need it. A simple test: without asking anyone else, could you download the current copy of your company’s brand style guide now?

If you cannot do that in a minute, then think about the consequences. It probably means that your colleagues have the same problem which means wasted time and cost across the company. These are the tangible losses.

Now, what if you get a call from a channel partner or a trade association who just needs a good quality black and white version of your logo “Stay on the phone and I will do that now”, you say and 3 long minutes later you admit defeat and promise to send it in a few minutes after you put the phone down. Not catastrophic but it didn’t help your reputation. Unless you are Gerald Ratner, reputation is not lost in a single incident. Professional reputation is lost over a series of disappointing events.

Some of my favourite everyday reputation-sapping examples include:

  • Poor quality people photos used to show speakers in conference brochures (and sent to a mailing list of 5,000 people across your industry)
  • Business cards – two or more employees handing out business cards to customers that look different (covered by a “we changed our style last year but I haven’t had my cards reprinted yet”)
  • Web site and printed collateral using different images and even different product names

So if a picture paints a thousand words, then why do companies fail to keep their visual identity up to date and available to all?

The simple answer is we have just had 2 years of tough trading and this sort of thing was not top priority. Now, as companies get on the front foot, invest in their web sites, PR, product data sheets, brochures, company presentations and more, the brand guidelines become very important.

In the last two months at Milner, we have done two brand style guides. These companies are tightening their visual identity because they believe it will improve their reputation and commercial performance. If you want to see a full example of a completed guide or to talk through the situation at your company then please contact us.

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