Creating Brand Standards

By Cassandra Giovanni

 In my recent article on this site, The Brand of You, I talked about how to reach a better understanding of your brand and what a true rebrand looks like. Rebranding isn’t an easy process. It’s more than just changing your logo and updating your look and feel. You must understand the emotional connections that drive consumers to your doors. Your brand is how people perceive you, and throughout the article, I spoke about how that begins from within.

Once you know what makes you different, and you’ve reached an agreement with senior management as to what your brand image should be, you have a great foundation to begin looking at your brand holistically. You’ll want to start with the people who bring your brand to life—your team members. These individuals need tools and a program to expose them to your brand and what it means.

At the bank where I work, we accomplished this by creating brand standards that hold our marketing team and branch team accountable for our brand image. These standards include:

  • Graphic and Logo Uses – This document shows the different ways in which our logo is used, from advertisements and promotional materials to signage on buildings.
  • Voice and Style – This is a guide to what the language of the bank is. It includes our mission statement, brand promise, and brand personality. From there it moves to a lexicon and a description of each of our writing styles—including how we write copy for our website, social media, email, and advertisements. It also covers image standards, providing a guide for how to pick stock images, how to set up professional photo shoots, and what images can be approved from the branches to be used on social media. Lastly, it has our advertisement standards, which cover the language, image and voice standards, with additional guidance on what phone numbers and colors are acceptable.
  • Branch Appearance – This handbook covers guidelines for overall exterior appearance and the drive-thru, as well as interior appearance, including the lobby, teller line and offices. It’s important to work with whoever is in charge of the branches in creating this document. At our bank, for example, it was important to balance our family-like culture with the professionalism our customers expect. We wanted to be sure we didn’t alienate our team members or our customers. The document also references our media calendar, which shows what should be placed in each area during each quarter of the year. Finally, there is a planogram for all of the different brochure holder styles in our branches.
  • Editorial Calendar – This Excel spreadsheet is a tool that helps the marketing department to align its social media efforts with brand standards and branch goals. Each month has a different focus, and all posts are scheduled on the last Monday of the month for the entire next month.
  • Media Calendar – This final piece is an Excel spreadsheet that helps the marketing department establish where branch marketing collateral goes each quarter. We found that while this spreadsheet made complete sense to our back office team, it was difficult for branch team members. For that reason, we use this document in conjunction with a set of display instructions that detail what collateral is coming in and what collateral is going out.

Sound overwhelming? Keep in mind that the marketing department at my bank is a two-person team comprising myself and one other person. I handle the brand, strategic planning, budget, event planning, and social media. My partner works on our digital design, manages our website and creative executions, and lends his valuable input on our brand. We completed the above-listed documents in a time span of about two-months, while maintaining all our other moving targets. Once these items were done, we had the answers to all of our brand questions and could embark on the journey of getting all our team members onboard.

Cassandra Giovanni is Marketing Project Leader at Savings Institute Bank & Trust based out of Willimantic, CT. Her passion for brand originates from her years of experience in literary marketing as the author of several Amazon Best Selling fiction novels, combined with a decade of experience in banking as a front end employee, assistant branch administrator and financial marketer. Email: [email protected].