How consistent is your public face?

Many businesses have graphic identity guides. Some guides can fill up entire binders going into minute detail on every possible design scenario. These guides are an important piece in consistent branding, however, there can be a gap when it comes to individual ad campaigns.

I’ve recently been noticing inconsistencies in what I’ll call spin-off pieces created by clients (not just my clients, but many businesses). Spin-off pieces are created in-house by client teams and, with the best intentions, are designed to fit with the current ad campaign. These could be things like newsletters, email marketing or employee communications to name a few.

The problem is that without a clear guide for the current campaign, small changes can creep into the designs. Sometimes the wrong weight type is used in the headline or a photo is reversed to better fit a particular application. These initially seem like minor details but soon you have half a dozen pieces that are all slightly different from eachother. These projects typically happen away from the eyes of the agency and the small variations can leave the original campaign diluted.

Will the client notice the problem? Maybe, maybe not. Will the consumer notice? They probably won’t put a finger on the details but I believe that it does make a difference in brand perception.

The solution isn’t difficult but it does require deliberate action. Agencies and designers need to talk to the client about possible in-house spin-off projects that may borrow from the campaign. If such projects are a possibility then the creative team can develop a simple one page guide that covers basics such as type weights used in copy, tagline placement, color palettes (with color values for print and screen) and any other details specific to the campaign. A brief guide will be simple to follow and will actually make things easier on the client.

However, the responsibility can’t all be left to the creative team. Clients need to be aware that design choices are made for a reason and it’s important to remain consistent throughout communications. Without client buy-in the guides will be ineffective.

As an art director I’d love to be able to sign off on every single piece of communication that a client puts out. Unfortunately that’s not realistic. The next best thing is developing a clear set of guides that can be followed so that future pieces can build on the work of the initial campaign and create a stronger brand.

The Power of Authenticity in Content Marketing

Gone are the days when a simple marketing campaign with a spun message could sell the consumer. Consumers today are looking for a much more sophisticated and high quality marketing strategy before they take the plunge and trust a company. If you want a successful marketing campaign in 2015, you’ll turn the attention away from marketing gimmicks and towards transparency and authenticity.

What Authenticity Means for Your Brand

Authenticity is a difficult feeling to achieve in content marketing, particularly for online businesses. It’s not easy to connect with consumers when you can’t talk to them face to face about your company. However, there are still ways to understand and speak to your audience in a way that inspires connection and brand trust.

Brands have been choosing the authenticity route for years, reaping significant benefits. One recent marketing stunt that has shown a genuine desire for consumer connection is Coca Cola’s Share a Coke campaign, which now includes personalized labels. It gives the feeling that Coca Cola knows your name and wants to share the love with you.

Another great example is the Austrian National Tourist Office, who ran a marketing campaign in which they invited 16 travel bloggers to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience #inAustria. They created a video montage of the experience to showcase the memorable and inspiring event for consumers. The success of the video has been overwhelming, and the Austrian board is experiencing incredible feedback.

Both of these examples clearly show what happens when you choose to deliver authentic content. It allows you to go on a journey and determine exactly who you are as a company and what you have to offer the world. You’ll want to define your purpose, mission, and landmark goals. Once you’ve understood who you are, you can interact with your clients with confidence and kindness.

The result? Powerful relationships between your brand and most loyal customers. Being authentic means looking past the incoming revenue and looking towards the customer experience. If you can create an authentic customer experience, your revenue, customer retention, and brand trust will increase exponentially.

How to Bring Authenticity to Your Content Marketing Strategy

When you seek authenticity and customer connection, you’ll likely need to change several attributes of your strategy. As human beings, one of our main goals is to connect with others and create lasting relationships. Once that relationship is formed, it becomes a mutual agreement of give and take, allowing both to benefit and prosper. The same is said for your content marketing strategy. The more human you can make it, the more you’ll experience benefits. Here are just a few ways that you can create a more genuine content marketing strategy.

  • Be human. To begin with, authenticity in content production means ditching the robotic ways and turning towards more human tendencies. When you write content, you’ll do so with personality. When you create videos, the purpose will be to make human connections rather than convert customers.
  • Tell a story. The human race has been telling stories since the beginning of time, and it is by far the most lucrative form of entertainment – and marketing. Though not every piece of content needs to tell a story, you should have several inspiring pieces that take the reader on a journey.
  • Respond to customers on social media. Social media has more impact on customer relations than you might think, particularly if you’re engaging with them consistently. Customers want to connect with you, which is the reason they comment on and share your content. If you want to make connections, you’ll respond with kind comments, promises to do better, and gratitude. Being truly genuine as you cultivate customer relationships will take you to the top.
  • Treat customers like friends. One of the best ways to add more authenticity to your campaign is to throw out the idea of customer/client relations and introduce the idea of treating customers like friends. Sometimes this means sacrificing a little to create a great experience for the customer, and sometimes it means practicing a little tough love to help the customers learn and grow with your company. As you work to treat your customers like your friends, you’ll see the power of authenticity for yourself.