The Importance of Establishing Brand Guidelines

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When you’re building the brand behind your company, it’s important to establish a set of rules and guidelines to promote consistency throughout your marketing materials. Brand Guidelines serve as a resource for how to present your company to the world. From logos to fonts and brand voice to the color palette, this style guide will ensure that your company is properly represented across all platforms.

When we onboard a new partner at Imagine Media, one of our first steps is to take a deep dive into their brand guidelines. This information is vital to our team because it helps us understand the company at a very personal and detailed level. Whether it’s our copywriter trying to assume the brand voice, or our graphics team making content for their social channels, all of the information included in the brand guidelines helps us build and represent their brand.

You might be wondering what should be included in your brand guidelines. As with any creative process, a great place to start is by building a mood board. This will help set the tone and overall feel of your brand.

Another important element to include in your brand guidelines is all versions of logos and signature graphics that you would like to be utilized. Specifying color and logo size is important for people working with these elements. You can also make clear what would be an example of unacceptable logo usage in this section.

Next, you’ll want to incorporate typography and messaging. Determining the fonts that represent your brand is an important step in creating the personality of your company. Messaging and brand voice are how your brand communicates with their audience. This subject can be relatively tricky, but if you provide your creative team with a clear brand voice, it will make the copywriting process much more effective.

Finally, defining your company’s color palette is an essential part of your brand guidelines. Keeping color consistent throughout your marketing materials will support your presence online, on social media channels and throughout your marketing campaign. When you consider colors like Tiffany turquoise or Coca-Cola red, you get a true appreciation for how much color influences your brand.

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge of brand guidelines, take note of how other companies establish their timeless brands through these elements. If you’re interested in learning more about branding, we highly recommend our friends at Wildcat Echo, who have branding down to an art form!

Story By: Sophie Duncan

Back Your Social Strategy With a Beautiful Website

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Our partners invest a great deal of time and assets into giving us the tools to create engaging social media content to be distributed across their social platforms. From breaking down their Top 9 to perfectly styling each photo, we take so much pride in producing a visually appealing social strategy to capture the attention of our partner’s target audience.

A challenge that we have run into, however, is that a business owner will invest in their social media strategy, but not match that investment for their website, which is where the real magic happens ($$). It’s so important to reinforce your social media channels with a user-friendly, well-designed website that is consistent with the branding throughout your social channels. If your social media strategy goal is to drive followers to your website, then it’s only logical that you’ll want to lead them to a pot of web design gold that will continue to captivate them.

A beautiful website does not need to be complicated. There are four main areas that you’ll want to focus on when designing the perfect web experience: visual hierarchy, typography, branding/colors, and of course, user experience (also known as UX).

Visual hierarchy is what signals your website visitors where their eyes should travel across the screen. As the scan the page their attention will naturally gravitate to specific points on the page depending on how your website is composed. Patterns, font size, colors, and layouts all play a role in the visual hierarchy of a page, but the main takeaway is to make sure that you’re considering how each element on the page interacts with the big picture.

Typography selection is another key player in web design. Most professionals have certain fonts that make them cringe because they are commonly used on poorly designed websites (looking at you Comic Sans). Selecting typography is an important decision in how you portray your message and brand personality. The goal is to choose a font that is easy to read, but also unique enough to evoke the overall feeling that your website is trying to achieve.

The branding and color scheme of your website should flow smoothly from your social media channel. When you begin the branding process for your business, the color scheme and voice is something that you will want to define in the early stages of development in order to make sure you are being consistent throughout all your marketing materials. Your website is the perfect platform to really dive into branding and set the stage for who you are as a business. Be consistent with colors, logos and messaging.

Above all, it’s important to make sure that your website is easy to use. If you’ve ever visited a poorly designed website, you definitely know how frustrating it can be when you can’t find what you’re looking for. Every step of your website design should have the user’s ease of experience in mind. Some excellent examples of successful UX design include RX Bar, Starbucks, and SPANX.

If you think of your social media platforms as the storefront windows designed to draw your customers into your store, then your website is the equivalent of the experience they have once they walk through the door. You want to make sure it’s consistent, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. For more information on website design, you can consult with professionals at companies such as Nicely Built or Sideways8.

Story By: Sophie Duncan

Tips and Tricks: How To Work a Creative Process

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I’ve been told that being a creative isn’t a job or a personality trait, but a way you live your life. I believe that’s true for any creative field whether it’s art, dance, photography – anything. At Imagine Media, we have our own in-house creative team and they produce all our partners’ creative content. We have a photographer, videographer, graphics editor, photo stylist and creative manager. Being a social media marketing company, Imagine works with dozens of clients with all kinds of different target audiences and unique brand personalities. Here are some helpful tips and tricks we use when approaching a creative process for specific brands.

1. Research. Research. Research.

One of the most important aspects of any creative field is to do your research. Whether you’re still learning your craft, learning a new technique, or working specifically with a brand, you want to know more about what you’re trying to produce and the best way to do that. Learning about a brand’s voice is a great place to start your research.

2. Make a mood board

Making a mood board is a great way to get an overall image and aesthetic for the project you’re working on. When you look around for inspiration and pull words or images that you like or inspire you, you get a better overall idea of what you’re going for and how you want your final product to look.

3. Fail fast

As Seth Godin says in his book, “fail fast.” Get an opinion, and then get more opinions. Look for criticism and try everything. Everyone fails, especially creatives. Moving as fast as you can and getting through your failures will help you learn faster, and the better your content will become.

4. Give them something to kill

Some of the best creative advice I’ve received about presenting your ideas is give them a concept to shoot down. When communicating with people who are focused on building their brand and not specifically in creative work, they are likely to turn down a lot of ideas in hopes of building the brand in their vision. Sometimes presenting what a brand doesn’t want can help clarify what they do want. When presenting content to them, bring your best ideas forward, but also throw in a few for them to turn down, because they inevitably will. 

5. Trust your content

The second-best piece of creative advice I’ve received is to trust your content. A brand hired you for a reason – they like your work! Walk into every creative situation with confidence. The brand knows that you produce great work, and you should believe it too!

Story by: Amanda Carneglia

6 Tips to Enhance your Professional Life

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Let’s face it, there are always things we can improve on when it comes to our daily professional lives. It does not always have to be directly work-related, but rather it has to do with our personal well-being. Even if it's not a major change, something small can better your work life. Here are 6 tips to enhance your professional life and experience.

1. Stay Positive

Negativity will drag you down. The key is to not let it. Try pinpointing areas where you see the most negativity, whether it is a person or place. Try to avoid negative talk and turn it into something positive. By taking this damper out of your life, it can transform your attitude in the workplace.

2. Unplug

Once you get home from work, try to unplug! If you can, keep the laptop shut. In the social media industry, we spend most of our days looking at a screen. Here at Imagine Media, we understand the importance of this tip. Once you leave the office, try reading, spending time with friends, or going out to dinner. Logging off your accounts can help reduce the stress of notifications. By doing this, you make more room for heartfelt and real moments with friends and family.

3. Have an Open Mind

A huge way to enhance your professional life is by having an open mind. When opportunities arise, say yes! Even if it's something you are unsure of or nervous about, give it a shot! Trying new things can lead to broadening your skill set. The more opportunities you give yourself, the more chances you have for success.

4. Stay in the Loop

In today's world, there is a plethora of news. It is so important to stay on top of the information coming out in your industry. Do your research! It is key to stay aware of updates, trends and news on competitors. By staying informed, it can help your daily work and keep you a step ahead.

5. Recognize your success

Recording and communicating achievements are so important in your professional life. Keep track of your successes, but also let your teammates know if they have done something outstanding. Whether it is small or large, celebrating your successes can help you create goals. Not only does it improve your daily life and relationships, it can help you for the future. Keeping track of this will help you promote yourself for future job opportunities.

6. Build relationships

Nothing is more important than creating a positive and friendly work atmosphere. In order to have this, it is key to build strong relationships with your teammates. Try to find things in common and get to know who they are outside of work. Perhaps try planning events together or grab lunch. Creating strong connections will exponentially improve your professional life, as well as your future. Also, who doesn't want to have more friends? This is a perfect way.

These tips are produtive ways to further improve your professional life. If you are looking for a change, try one of these out or all of them! Hopefully, they can create a positive change in your life.

Story by: Hannah Lagod

 

 

 

Instagram Top 9

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You might be asking yourself, what is a Top 9 and why should my business care? We refer to the Top 9 as the first nine photos that appear on an Instagram profile’s feed. One of the details we focus on for our partners is making sure their Top 9 is always strategically curated. We pay attention to the feed's overall color scheme, how the images flow when your eye travels across the screen and the variety of images that appear in the feed.

When users are browsing the Explore tab and find a profile that strikes their interest, the next natural step is to visit the profile to see more content from that particular user. As they scroll through, those first nine photos can be a make or break in their decision to actually follow the account.

What are Instagram users looking for in the top nine? They want to relate to the content in some way. They want to see that the profile has been put together in a strategic, intentional way. They want the photos to tell a story, convey a feeling or establish an overall mood. There's no doubt that Instagram users connect with their followers through photography and the content has to be chosen to appeal to that particular target audience.

Similar to how the way you dress presents your personal style, your Top 9 can also establish a personal theme for your online presence. For example, let’s compare two Instagram accounts that have two very different moods: @annacmathias and @peachestopearls. Just by simply glimpsing each of these accounts, it’s clear that the users have different personal styles. These distinct styles are conveyed immediately within the Top 9 photos and each piece of content in their feed has been chosen to match the overall mood. 

At Imagine Media we also strive for these differentiating themes among our partners. During our first strategy meeting in the onboarding process, our team creates a mood board to reflect our overall goal for the new account’s Instagram feed. This helps drive the creative direction that our photo stylist and photographer will move forward with when pulling inspiration for the photoshoots. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the concept of a Top 9, you will notice how other Instagram users put this into practice. Be sure to follow Imagine Media on Instagram to see how we piece together our Top 9 each week!

Story By: Sophie Duncan
 

Something Verified, Something Blue

Something Verified, Something Blue

See those little blue and white check marks next to the user handles? Yeah, you recognize that symbol. You see it next to the names of celebrities, well-known athletes, and big-name companies like Apple. You also most likely know that that little check mark means that the account its attached to is “verified.” But what does that really mean?

How Typography Influences Your Brand

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Creating brand guidelines for your company is a complicated process that involves a number of important decisions that can affect how your brand is perceived. One of the most important, and often overlooked, decisions is what typography to use for your marketing materials.

Just as the words you choose to write are important, the aesthetic in which you present them is equally as important in determining what mood you are trying to communicate. Differences in typeface can convey your brand's personality. Some are recognized as informal, while others are louder, and some are more classic.

It’s up to you to decide how your brand’s typography will influence the psychology of your communication to your audience. When chosen correctly, the right font will help your audience identify the brand’s attitude. Once selected, it’s of course very important to be consistent with your typography throughout your marketing strategy. Just as color creates a brand identity, so will your typeface.

So, how do you choose the correct typeface for your brand? This decision can be more challenging than some of the more obvious branding steps like designing a logo or pairing a color scheme. It’s easy to get caught up in the terminology of typeface and the different fonts can all blur together!

We recommend beginning this selection process the same way we begin many of our creative efforts: by creating a mood board. Screenshot some of your favorite font pairings that you’ve seen in other brands to compare and decipher your preferred font selections. You want to make sure these choices are readable, and also on-brand as far as your voice and personality. You can also look for trends in your industry to see what typefaces brands prefer.

One great tool to use when educating yourself about fonts is the WhatFont app. Once installed, this will identify what fonts have been used on websites that you are browsing. This tool is also helpful to learn how to mix and match different typefaces to create contrast throughout your branding.

At the end of the day, consistency with your overall brand voice is the most important factor when selecting fonts. Choosing the typeface is an important step in the branding process that deserves just as much as attention as the more obvious stages in creating your brand identity.

Story By: Sophie Duncan

Tips and Tricks: How To Create a Great Brand Voice

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Everything you put out into the world from your brand’s social media builds the personality of your company – that is your brand's voice! Creating a brand voice is imperative because a it helps solidify the purpose and motivation behind a business. It’s how you connect with your audience and keep them coming back to you. Here are some tips on how to guarantee you get your brand voice across in the way you want.

1. Create the character for your brand

It is essential to know your brand inside and out to create a good brand voice. You need find out its personality - funny, quirky, professional, matter-of-fact. This choice will depend on how you want an audience to perceive your brand. An easy way to start is by choosing a few adjectives to describe what your brand is, and what your brand is not. Be as specific as you can. Examples include: confident but humble, social but not boisterous, clever but not sarcastic. Essentially, you are building who you are as a brand and giving viewers a reason that sets you apart from the competition. In short: define your voice, then keep it consistent.

2. Know your target audience

This one seems fairly simple, but it is something easily overlooked. You need to understand your target audience, who you are trying to reach and what they care about. Speak in way that is relevant to them, and in ways they want to receive the information. For example, would it be more effective to reach someone in your target via a native advertising article or a short funny clip?

3. Be authentic

While it is important to strategize in creating your brand voice, be careful that you do not sacrifice authenticity. Though using other brands as inspiration for creating your own in the beginning can be a great jumping off point, you do not want to be something you are not. If you lose what makes you unique, it comes off as fake or trying too hard to an audience and it will show through. You want to give an audience a personal look at your brand, and being fake or unauthentic will not get you the audience you want. Every brand should be willing to open up and relax. Regardless of what your brand voice is, authenticity is key.

4. Evolve

The final important part of brand voice is to just keep moving forward. If you do not get a solid brand voice right away, that’s okay, just keep trying until you figure out what you are going for. Brand voice is like language, it is fluid. It changes and adapts at every stage of a brand’s life cycle. Because our world is ever-changing, as a brand you need to be adaptable and be a lifelong-learner. Ultimately, never be “finished” creating your brand voice.

Story by: Amanda Carneglia