Do your documents portray a consistent brand?

Susan Collins inspired this post by her Twitter tweet: “Every document that touches a customer is marketing. Are all your documents sending the same message and properly representing your brand?”

With all the attention companies give to branding, advertising and marketing, I suspect they do not pay much attention to their brand consistency across documents.

Marketing literature is most often more or less aligned with the company or brand message. But companies have a plethora of other documents, outside the jurisdiction of the marketing people, that should also support their brand.

The elements you should be looking at are

  • Content
  • Visual appearance
  • Tone-of-Voice

Content is most often dictated by the purpose of the document. In many cases there are even legal requirements for the content, such as on invoices. But you can always include an institutional text that describes the essential benefits of your company or brand in a nutshell.

Visual appearance plays a significant role in documents. Your house typography and graphics should be aligned with your brand image. Liberal use of white space makes the documents easier to read and lends them a professional air. Consult your visual designer for details.

Tone-of-Voice is the most important element, however.

For example, if your brand is friendly, customer-oriented and warm, do your invoices include a “friendly” element, such as “Thank you very much in advance for making the payment by the due date” instead of only stating the interest on arrears?

Do your reminder letters speak in a warm tone—or in your legal department’s voice? If your brand is supposed to be friendly, your first reminder shouldn’t assume the customer has deliberately delayed payment, but rather that your invoice has not arrived or there is an accidental glitch in the customer’s handling process.

Are your white papers speaking with the brand voice or the R&D engineer’s voice?

And so on, you get the drift.

Documents may not seem a priority during a downturn, but they definitely deserve attention. If you’re concerned about portraying a consistent brand, the whole range of your documents are an important component in achieving that.

Comments

  1. Sandi L. Peterson - August 24, 2009 @ 15:07

    Absolutely. This applies to all media your company utilizes. Direct mail, print, online content and even the person who answers your phone. “Speaking with the same voice” should be included in training across all levels within your company. Gather samples of all your marketing efforts. Ask a few staffers if your materials look like they come from the same company marketing the same image. You will often be surprised.

  2. Billy Mitchell - November 8, 2009 @ 10:37

    This is such a common sense idea. I am going to look at our agency’s documents with a new set of eyes this week because, to be honest, I haven’t looked at them in far too long. Shame on me.

    Sure, our logo is there, and in the case of invoices, so is the description and the total. But we could at least say “thanks for the business” and with a little creativity, even more.

    Thinking of the invoice example specifically, what a critical point in time to say something, other than “you now owe me”.

    Thanks for the kick in the head.

  3. Kimmo Linkama - November 8, 2009 @ 12:51

    Sandi and Billy, thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Invoices are actually a very good vehicle of extending a thank-you to your customer. Even if the invoice gets sent to the accounting department — which in itself doesn’t influence your future business in any way — it eventually gets to be approved by your business contact. That’s where you will make a difference with your message.

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