Brand is hugely important for any company. A strong brand distinguishes you from your competitors, acts as a mark of consistency and quality, and ensures that everyone within your organisation understands – and lives up to – your values and expectations.
However, without being properly defined, managed and communicated, a brand may not remain consistent, and could fail to make the impact it should on people. You might know what your company’s all about; your staff members might even know what it’s all about, but until everyone who comes into contact with your company gets a genuine sense of “you”, there is a case to be made for brand strengthening.
This is where the creation of written brand DNA material comes in so useful. By giving thought to – and recording – exactly what your company is all about, these useful pieces give everyone from key stakeholders, to existing and potential customers an authentic sense of your brand. What’s more, they can be referred to in-house when planning everything from social media use and content marketing, to web design and broader strategy.
1. Mission Statement
What is your company’s overall purpose for existing? Your mission statement is where you communicate this. Mission statements rarely describe a point where a company is, more commonly addressing an overall goal which it strives towards. These can be as broad, or as specific as you like, and are included to give readers a sense of the overarching aim which drives you.
Here are a few quality mission statements to get you on your way to creating your own:
“At Microsoft, our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.”
“To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.”
“Our mission statement is to make the best product, but do it with no unnecessary harm and use business to implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
2. Your Story
How did you come to be the company that you are today? Most successful businesses are the realisation of a dream, and the product of a huge amount of passion and hard work. What’s more, the early days of a company are often where its true values and qualities become established. Explaining your own tale in an inspiring but genuine way allows readers of your brand DNA piece a glimpse into your business’ past, as well as an understanding of the core values and passions which have made it what it is.
Every company cares about something, and your values section is your chance to communicate this. Whether it’s good customer service, world peace or anything in between, it’s important to ensure that everyone interacting with your business knows what you’re passionate about.
One important thing to bear in mind here is to be realistic with your values. Being too optimistic, or too broad with your values can leave you open to ridicule. Focus on the values which your company can justify with its actions, as well as those which are a fundamental to your functioning.
Our values at theMediaFlow, for example, are those in the image below. Each of these have been proven in our work, and form a key underlying principle to what we do from day to day:
4. Case Studies
Whether functioning to showcase your best projects, the services or products you sell, or the general approach your business takes, case studies demonstrate to readers of your brand DNA piece that you practice what you preach. A good way to approach this task is by returning to your values, and picking real life stories which show you working by them.
Design elements are a visual representation of your company, and should be consistent across everything produced in its name. Alongside your tone of voice, these give a tangible sense of how your company presents itself. Design guidelines should include instructions on the use of fonts, colours and images, as well as how your logo should be shown and any other visual features used in company material.
Alongside this, provide some explanation for each design choice made. Perhaps you use sharp shapes to represent technicality, intricate texts to represent class, or simple visuals to give a sense of openness; whatever your reasoning, make it clear that design elements aren’t a coincidence, but a way to tell your readers something.
6. Tone of Voice Guidelines
Fairly simply, tone of voice guidelines explain how your company communicates with the world. There are subtle differences between how even seemingly similar companies talk, which give a distinctly different sense of their brand personality.
Consider two large-scale fruit drink retailers, Tropicana and Innocent. Despite their similar core products, their tones of voice are completely different. Note how both introduce their own stories below.
“hello, we’re innocent…and we’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too). We started innocent in 1999 after selling our smoothies at a music festival. We put up a big sign asking people if they thought we should give up our jobs to make smoothies”
“From Seed to Squeezed…Its 65 years since we started, but some things haven’t changed. We still make delicious Premium orange juice the best way we know how. 100% not from concentrate.”
Innocent are clearly looking to present themselves as a simple, open and under-stated company in the way they speak, choosing to use words like “good”, “big”, and “nice” to demonstrate this.
Conversely, Tropicana use their “story” section to present themselves as a company valuing quality and freshness above all else. They use the words “best” and “premium”, and the phrases “Seed to Squeezed” and “100% not from concentrate” to show the point of focus in their tone of voice.
When it comes to writing your own tone of voice guidelines, think about the message you want to give out in your communications. Do you want to look professional, friendly, expert, confident, reserved? The manner in which you speak can say a lot to potential customers about your company’s attitude and values, and if confused, it can result in you a disjointed brand experience.
7. Your Services/Products
What exactly do you do? Your services or products section gives a clear sense of your unique offering to your customers. Even if you specialise in something which can seem niche or boring – or you think those reading may already know – it is still important to include your actual business proposition clearly within the piece.
The 7 elements of a brand DNA piece covered in this post are not the only features you can include, but in my eyes are the very most important. You may also want to create sections focusing on your customer, awards you’ve won, charities you support, your company environment or anything else you think is crucial to your brand.
It’s also worth noting that the names I’ve suggested for each section may not suit your brand. For example, if you’re looking to present yourself as open and friendly, you may substitute “Tone of Voice” for “How We Talk”, or change “Case Studies” to “Walking the Walk” etc.
I hope that you’ve found this post helpful! If you have any questions about what’s covered above, post a comment below and I’ll be happy to help!