I learned much of what I know about branding and brand development from my time in marketing at Philips and Samsung, and for me they threw up some really interesting lessons that shaped my future marketing thinking.
In different ways they are both benchmark companies, full of strong ideas that typify how an organisation should be totally brand-driven in their marketing, through graphic design and creative website design.
At Philips, as a Product Manager, I was an integral member of the commercial team that introduced new products under the brand – such as Compact Disc and Video Recorders. As a result I was very much on the coal face for many of the decisions effecting the company globally.
Starting a new brand from scratch
And while maybe I didn’t give the company credit for how good they were, the lessons I learned from this were very important in defining our future strategy in Samsung in the 90s. At that time Samsung had no brand to speak of, but a truly gifted product development and production team in Korea. They were hungry for global success and absorbed all of our brand marketing ideas like a sponge! And for a young sales and marketing team, we had a gilt-edged and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build something very special and from a clean sheet of paper!
The importance of ruthless branding consistency
What I learned at Philips is that for every new brand, the most critical implementation component is the brand style guide. This document can be a couple of pages of A4 or (in Philips case) a tome like the Yellow Pages, which gives the crucial details that every employee, and all third party service providers, must adhere to in order to implement the proper use of the brand.
A Brand Manual covers use of the logo – design, colours and page positioning, typefaces, fonts, size, in different variants for each use of the brand.
The execution the brand can be as simple as an invoice or as complicated as a TV ad. From sales collateral, to building signage, to vans, the branding should all look exactly the the same. In this way, in every case, the audience always sees the brand in a consistent look and feel and always gets the same message.
The dangers of inconsistency and ROI
Without strong, published and communicated brand guidelines, you’ll get zero consistency, a brand will come over as very disjointed in the marketplace to your target market. It is inefficient and is poor use of the investment.
I’ve seen so many companies fail to implement branding with rigorous consistency and damage their growth. Your brand guidelines are a critical business tool if you do any outbound marketing – for example advertising, printed collateral or in person in the form of the humble business card.
Over the next few days I will produce a brand guidelines checklist which will detail what should be included and why.
Author Matthew Simmons