Lets face it. Every industry loves its own proprietary language and the world of marketing communications is no different. Today, marketing and advertising is all about branding, but in its early days it was known as positioning and a key element in the effort to establish a marketing identity regardless of what you call it is something called continuity. What exactly is that? Its the strategy and process of coordinating all the elements of a marketing message to achieve a consistent, memorable, overall look and feel for a company, service, or product. That includes all multimedia channels.
Sounds impressive, doesnt it? Its really all about making sure that everything you do as a company has a coordinated look and feel about it. Graphically, that means creating a standard logo, selecting a corporate color (or colors), a particular typeface, even a photo or illustration style. Content-wise, it means determining key points for your marketing messages that clearly, concisely, and compellingly elucidate your unique selling proposition (theres another one of those industry terms that falls in and out of fashion on a regular basis). This is not as simple as it sounds.
Now with Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo and other social media the need and demand for continuity is greater than ever before.
It requires an unfaltering, dedicated effort up and down your marketing chain to avoid going off message. Time and time again I have seen engineering departments grab logos and typestyles and use them with haphazard abandon on everything from data sheets to PowerPoint presentations to social media Ive seen sales people ignore mandates from the home office and routinely put out their own marketing volley with not a shred of semblance to the carefully crafted look painstakingly created by their own marketing department. The result is always the same a dilution of the companys identity and often a related drop in market share in response to the lack of an effective, unified marketing message. That, in turn, requires a needless squandering of precious marketing resources to reestablish the companys former brand awareness in the marketplace.
It doesnt have to be that way. A little discipline and a lot of vigilance can head off these potential image drainers and nip them in the bud before they become a real problem. By paying attention to continuity, your company can reap a multitude of benefits heightened market visibility, enviable awareness among potential customers, and a more effective use of your marketing budget, yielding the biggest bang for your buck. Overall, a keen eye toward continuity helps you achieve levels of image and branding efficiency unavailable to practitioners of hit-or-miss marketing with little or no image consistency between messages and media. It starts with your corporate identity.
I never cease to be amazed at how casually some companies treat their identity. Theres no shortage of firms that use two, three, even four versions of their logo on a regular basis, with no particular rhyme or reason in various media. The same goes for corporate colors often a victim of one or more employees personal taste (I HATE that color, Im going to use green instead¦I think it looks better¦). This dilution of image is made even easier by the proliferation of PowerPoint, Prezi, YouTube, Vimeo and other tools used by more and more employees. If this is happening to your company, I have three words of advice: STOP IT. NOW. The longer this practice is allowed to continue, the more it will cost your company. In time, money, image awareness and, ultimately, in market share.
How do you combat this insidious problem? By establishing company-wide standards and maintaining them. Issue a simple style sheet that everyone can understand and follow and then enforce it. That means establishing a corporate color (or colors), a particular typestyle (especially one that is duplicated in computer fonts and online presentations) and creating a logo that works well in 4-color (the process colors used by printers to print in full color), and a particular shade of a color from the Pantone Matching System, identified by a PMS number. If you create high and low resolution files and make them available to the people most likely to need them, you will go a long way toward unifying your image out in the marketplace.
Now that youve got your company look under control, its time to work on your message. This often starts with a mission or for the more esoteric entrepreneur, a vision statement. While others may be long on hyperbolic language and short on real meaning, they CAN be valuable. Work to make yours meaningful, concise, actionable, and unique. Be ruthless. Is this who we really are? Is this what we really want to be? Does this really set us apart? Once youve honed your statement to accurately reflect what your company is and what it stands for, it will enable you to create a meaningful slogan or tagline to be used in your marketing messages. Avoid the trite and contrived. The Leader in (blank) has been done before. Trust me.
A good tagline will inform every message that follows. It will help flavor copy written for your sales literature, web site, advertising, social media and even internal messaging. It will make generating consistent, focused text easier because it will help set the tone and form the basis of the message. And that message, aided by the consistent visual combination of logo, color, and typestyle wielded with ruthless discipline all combine to create a powerful, memorable marketing impression.
That, my friends, is the power of continuity. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. He was wrong. Consistency, otherwise known as continuity, is the most potent weapon of great marketing minds.
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