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How designers can solve the nightmare of forever-changing brand guidelines

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It’s no secret that brand guidelines have become a major headache for graphic designers working today. With everything in constant flux, it’s difficult to keep up with the increasing demands of visual identities. Corebook is on a mission to help and wants to make PDF brand guidelines extinct by 2025. We sat down with Corebook’s Janis Verzemnieks and Raitis Velps to find out more.

In 2022, dealing with brand guidelines remains a clunky, frustrating process for many. First, you have to read through the cumbersome, long-winded and increasingly outdated PDF that someone drew up several years ago. Next, you might have to scour your emails or the company intranet for random changes your boss introduced on an ad-hoc basis (you’ve been promised an updated PDF, but it hasn’t yet been finalised).

Then you go looking for the official assets for, say, the logo – which could be anywhere on the system. And when you locate them, it’s still not super-clear whether they’re the latest version (the addition of ‘final.final.final.jpg’ to the filename doesn’t fill you with much confidence).

Still using static PDFs

Okay, it might not be that bad where you work. But too many internal design departments at big companies, and even some design agencies, still take a disorganised, outdated and hugely inefficient approach to managing their brand guidelines. And most strikingly, these are usually based around a fixed-format PDF.

That approach might have worked okay in the 1990s. But in an era when brands exist across multiple channels that are dynamic and forever-changing, it’s virtually prehistoric. As a result, most people don’t even look at the brand guidelines, and the amount of effort that’s gone into creating them is entirely wasted.

So what’s the solution?

How Corebook solves the problem

Corebook is software that allows designers to create online brand guidelines that can be easily updated in real-time and shared with whomever you like.

It’s already being used by well-known agencies, including Accept & Proceed, McCann London, The Partnership and M&C Saatchi. And its mission is quite simple – to make PDF brand guidelines extinct by 2025.

It does this by harnessing modern technology to make brand guidelines easy to access, share and collaborate on. With its user-friendly online platform, all your guidelines can be brought into one online home and – crucially – linked to all relevant brand assets, so they’re easily accessible.

Because Corebook is built by designers, for designers, its interface has the uncanny knack of knowing exactly what you need and delivering it in a way that makes sense for your own workflow. It’s such a simple and elegant solution. In fact, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

When it comes to pricing, there are two options: one for enterprises and one for agencies. Enterprise customers can begin with Corebook with a 14-day free trial, and if you decide to keep going, plans start at just $99 a month. When you consider the time and energy you’ll save as a result, that seems like a real bargain.

Freelancers and agencies, meanwhile, may prefer the new Corebook Studio, which boasts a greater range of collaboration features. Again, there’s a 14-day free trial offer, and prices start at just $39 a month on the Solo plan and $69 a month on the Teams plan.

To find out more about Corebook, we chatted with CEO Janis Verzemnieks and CMO Raitis Velps. They explain what inspired it, the problems it solves, and where they’re taking Corebook in the future.

What were you doing before you launched Corebook?

Janis Verzemnieks: I have 12 years of experience working in design and branding. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and founded my first business when I was 20 years old.

It was a design studio working with the music industry. I was the guy who was designing the album art for covers and posters, planning marketing campaigns for travelling musicians, and things like that. So basically, I learned about branding from rock and roll legends!

Raitis Velps: I’ve also been in the marketing and branding space for about more than seven years. Plus, I’m a lecturer on marketing and branding for local universities here in Riga, Latvia.

Where did the idea for Corebook come from?

Janis: Well, we are working in design agencies ourselves. And we noticed that the majority of brand guidelines were not being used in real life.

That was a huge amount of resources just being wasted. And it meant that brand guidelines were not doing the job of maintaining consistency and collaboration in this fast-moving world of InstaStories and TikTok.

At the same, design and branding were becoming more important than ever before across organisations of all kinds. Modern companies were hiring people with titles like chief branding officer, brand guardian, and brand experience designer.

So every company was trying to build its brand… but they weren’t doing it efficiently. And the right people were not talking to each other across the organisation.

How does Corebook solve that problem?

Janis: We’re basically doing two things. Firstly, we’re introducing a new global standard for living, online brand guidelines, which will never get outdated.

Secondly, we’re introducing a better brand management system by disrupting how modern teams give each other context around brand assets and guidelines. And the more people who can access brand guidelines, the more people can give feedback on them at the right time.

In short, our mission is to connect people who haven’t been connected before. That’s the core idea behind the Corebook universe.

Are you putting a lot of work into updating Corebook itself?

Janis: You can’t imagine: it’s a neverending process. We love to iterate and change a little bit every day. And most importantly, listen to our customers.

Raitis: That’s the key thing for us, actually. Whenever we think about the product, we always think about the client first. What is going to be their experience? What are the features? What are the things that matter to them? Since we’re all coming from the creative side, we already have an understanding of those things.

As well as actively listening to our clients, we’re also always on the lookout for what’s going on in the market and what’s going on in the industry. So that mix of two things really helps.

You started Corebook in 2020. Do you think lockdown influenced takeup?

Raitis: I think working from home meant brands were looking for ways to communicate their brand guidelines better to teams. It’s very easy when everybody is in an office, right? Everybody can just ask each other, ‘What’s going on here?’ But when you’re all at home, it becomes critical to have an easy way to communicate and one source of truth for everybody.

There are others in this space, though, right?

Raitis: Yeah, we’re definitely not the first. But in my humble opinion, we are the first to focus on allowing our clients total and utter creative freedom in creating and sharing their brand guidelines. And we’re also thinking about how to change the asset management system in a new way.

Let’s talk about like PDFs, for example. If you’re sharing them on Dropbox, say, then the user has to go into two separate environments: go look for a paragraph in the guidelines, and then go ahead and look for those assets somewhere else. And that can be a whole day spent just looking for a single version of a logo.

With Corebook, we’re almost forcing our users to think about how they can integrate those assets into brand guidelines. Because whenever people see a logo, they, of course, want to directly download all of the logo versions from the same place.

Janis: With Corebook, we want to be the centre point of all your brand assets by replacing the Dropbox folder. And then connecting all the stakeholders with all the hip digital tools they’re already using, like integrations with Figma, Slack, Miro, Adobe, etc. In other words, we’re all about making collaboration easier.

Raitis: Brands are ever-evolving, so it’s crucial that online brand guidelines are always being updated. With Corebook, you’re always in control of who has access to what and who has sharing possibilities. So for the first time, you truly are the owner of your brand. And you can access and update your brand guidelines wherever you are in the world.

What’s your vision for the future of Corebook?

Janis: We want to build a Corebook universe for all things branding. Brand guidelines are just the beginning. So the grand vision is for Corebook to become the central point of every rebranding in the world for companies between 10 and 10,000 people.

Raitis: Our mission is that by the year 2025, PDF brand guidelines will be a thing of our past. It gives us such joy to see new and established brands join our mission by ditching their PDF and going digital and online. We want to shift that mindset of how brand guidelines are perceived, and we’re at a very good place to actually accomplish it.

If you are interested in original article by Tom May, you can find it here

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10 Reasons Why Your Brand Needs to Be Online in 2022

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The internet has become the great equalizer as opportunities continue to increase in the online space.

Online branding is simply leveraging all of the opportunities that are available in the digital world to position, package and promote your brand. Having a strong online brand or online presence helps you to build credibility, trust with your audience and will help to position you as a thought leader in your area of expertise — essentially creating social proof for your brand.

This can be through your brand or company website, LinkedIn profile, social media platforms, newsletters, blogs and podcasts. Your online presence even may include old images, profiles from company websites, published articles, recorded speaking engagements and even that video from that one time you thought you could be a good stand-up comic.

Here’s the thing, people are already searching for you online, and because they cannot find you, they are going for the next best option that shows up on the first page of their search result even if they may not be the ideal candidate. Why? Because they are showing up in spaces where you may not be.

If you still are not convinced that you should be looking at building your online brand strategy, let’s start with these 10 reasons why your brand needs to be online.

  1. Platform – Being online gives you an immediate platform. When you take your personal or professional brand online, you are creating a platform to provide value by sharing your knowledge and expertise. This allows you to be positioned as a thought leader in your field or industry.
  2. Amplification – Online access means brand amplification. You get to be seen, heard and experienced in a bigger way to a much wider audience and people can really get a “feel” of who you are by how you choose to show up.
  3. Visibility – With so many opportunities online, you can now become the star of your very own show. You can utilize multiple channels to share through video such as IG Lives and IG Videos, LinkedIn Lives, YouTube, Podcasts and so much more. Your audience can see the personality behind the offer and behind the brand leading to trust and connection.
  4. Connection – People are in the business of buying goods and services. They are also in the business of feeling, connection and emotion. Building an online brand helps you to connect with your audience in a real way that ultimately leads to a community of like-minded individuals.
  5. Searchability – Is your brand searchable and is the right content coming up for you in an online search? As you start positioning your brand online, ensure that you are using the keywords that your ideal audience would search for to find your product or services. Ensure that online profiles on active and inactive accounts all have relevant information.
  6. Collaboration – The opportunities to collaborate are endless in an online world. From speaking on virtual stages, guest speaking on a podcast, or inviting other experts to partner with you on a signature event. Start following, connecting and collaborating with like-minded professionals in your field to expand your reach and grow your audience.
  7. Builds trust – When people like you, they will trust you. When they trust you, they will recommend you. Showing up online allows you to connect with your audience in a way to generates trust and likeability.
  8. Expands your reach – With so many platforms to choose from, getting online automatically increases your opportunity to expand your reach. People no longer need to come to your physical location to get information, buy a product or recommend your services. Everything happens online and if the experience is great, your chance for shareability also increases. When you are online your reach multiplies.
  9. Lead generation and new clients – You have the opportunity to attract and cast a much wider client and lead generation net when your brand is being positioned online. The key thing is to ensure that you are always sharing immense value. Build trust, make the connection — the sale will come.
  10. Make money – When you have positioned your brand online, offered great value, created the social proof that showcases your knowledge and expertise and built a community, you can start saying hello to multiple opportunities to make more money. But first, people need to know you are indeed the right candidate for the job and that starts with consistently showing up online and giving value.

Think about your brand and how you are currently showing up or not showing up in your various online spaces — what currently shows up for you or your brand in an online search?  The key thing is to ensure that your content and social media platforms are always updated with accurate and relevant information about you, your company and your brand and you are offering great value to your ideal audience.

You can read full article by Naomi Garrick here

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Having second thoughts about first-person branding? You should be

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Brands and products that refer to themselves as ‘I’ come across as infantile and annoying. Think twice when creating your tone of voice.

There’s no ‘I’ in brand.

No, this isn’t going to be one of those pieces that excoriates individualism in marketing departments and castigates those who step out of the consensus culture with a version of the ‘no-I-in-team’ put-down. Brands can be built either way: in harmonious, consensual togetherness or by brilliantly ruthless lightning strikes of personal genius.

Who would argue that Steve Jobs was not the ‘I’ in Apple, at least until Jony Ive came along and made it a ‘we’? And eponymous, founder-led brands would never get off the ground without the impassioned, often monomaniacal, zeal of the pioneer with their name over the door. From the outset, and for decades after, there was an ‘I’ in Ford and his name was Henry Ford.

But we’re going to come down a few levels from the elevated dichotomies of that subject matter. Many levels, in fact, to the subterranean zones of the branding edifice, to consider a communications trope that would be an unlikely contender for serious marketing comment were it not so very annoying and pervasive.

That trope is ‘I am’ branding, where products deploy the first-person singular to declare their benefits and virtues. ‘I am a green bus’, says the side panel on a passing bus. Why not ‘This is a green bus’, or ‘Get on board our new green buses’, or ‘Look! This bus has gone green’? Why ‘I’? It’s infantilising – a copywriting language straight out of the pages of Thomas the Tank Engine.

And it’s everywhere. On the wrapper of a peanut butter bar: ‘Ta-da! I am one third of your daily fibre fix.’ On a range of cleaning products: ‘I’ll do your dirty work,’ claims one; ‘I’ll give you some sparkle,’ boasts another. On the website of a big-brand sofa retailer that gives its products personal names: ‘Hi! I’m Bluebell.’ Or Isaac. Or Jack.

Taking things to another excruciating level of informality is the message on the brown wrapper of a big block of ice that comes with a recipe box delivery. ‘Ciao!’ it starts breezily, as though it made my acquaintance way back when we were both students at uni. ‘I am an icepack. Don’t worry if I have melted by the time you receive your food. I have used all my energy keeping your food chilled during the trip.’

‘You what?’ I want to say back. ‘You’re just a sodden lump of frozen H2O that’s now oozing in my sink’ – before realising that I have fallen into the trap and dignified an inanimate object with the second-person singular.

And that gets me wondering what these brands’ preferred pronouns are. We do not habitually refer to those who introduce themselves with ‘I’ as ‘it’ further down the conversation. So, is the bus/bar/sofa/icepack a she/her/ he/him/they/them or what?

Stand out from the category

The ‘first-person’ trope is merely the latest expression of what Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam’s head of strategy, Martin Weigel, has bewailed as “the mind-numbing, unrelenting chattiness of consumerism”. In a tweet devoted to that gripe he focused on some Innocent-inspired back-of-pack copy for a shampoo that talked about how ‘your hair is your friend’.

Perhaps I should take a cue from the ever-thoughtful Weigel to make a serious marketing point here. Before mandating a ‘friendly’ tone of voice for your brand, check if it is really what you want – or whether you’re ready for what you’ll end up with once the agency has put its stamp on it. Not everyone wants their brands to be their friends. In fact, does anyone, ever? What if your brand’s gravitas, authority, reputation – or its very category – precludes that level of presumptive chumminess?

Before mandating a ‘friendly’ tone of voice for your brand, check if it is really what you want.

As a precautionary tale here, I offer an example from the serious, often life-and-death world of medical devices. A brand that makes probes that go into the groin and up through the vascular system to locate, and hopefully withdraw, stroke-inducing clots deep in the brain addresses surgeons thus:

OPINION

Having second thoughts about first-person branding? You should be

Brands and products that refer to themselves as ‘I’ come across as infantile and annoying. Think twice when creating your tone of voice.

Helen Edwards marketing columnist

By Helen Edwards  28 Feb 2022

There’s no ‘I’ in brand.

No, this isn’t going to be one of those pieces that excoriates individualism in marketing departments and castigates those who step out of the consensus culture with a version of the ‘no-I-in-team’ put-down. Brands can be built either way: in harmonious, consensual togetherness or by brilliantly ruthless lightning strikes of personal genius.

Who would argue that Steve Jobs was not the ‘I’ in Apple, at least until Jony Ive came along and made it a ‘we’? And eponymous, founder-led brands would never get off the ground without the impassioned, often monomaniacal, zeal of the pioneer with their name over the door. From the outset, and for decades after, there was an ‘I’ in Ford and his name was Henry Ford.

But we’re going to come down a few levels from the elevated dichotomies of that subject matter. Many levels, in fact, to the subterranean zones of the branding edifice, to consider a communications trope that would be an unlikely contender for serious marketing comment were it not so very annoying and pervasive.

Marketing’s transformative questions don’t start with ‘how?’

That trope is ‘I am’ branding, where products deploy the first-person singular to declare their benefits and virtues. ‘I am a green bus’, says the side panel on a passing bus. Why not ‘This is a green bus’, or ‘Get on board our new green buses’, or ‘Look! This bus has gone green’? Why ‘I’? It’s infantilising – a copywriting language straight out of the pages of Thomas the Tank Engine.

And it’s everywhere. On the wrapper of a peanut butter bar: ‘Ta-da! I am one third of your daily fibre fix.’ On a range of cleaning products: ‘I’ll do your dirty work,’ claims one; ‘I’ll give you some sparkle,’ boasts another. On the website of a big-brand sofa retailer that gives its products personal names: ‘Hi! I’m Bluebell.’ Or Isaac. Or Jack.

Taking things to another excruciating level of informality is the message on the brown wrapper of a big block of ice that comes with a recipe box delivery. ‘Ciao!’ it starts breezily, as though it made my acquaintance way back when we were both students at uni. ‘I am an icepack. Don’t worry if I have melted by the time you receive your food. I have used all my energy keeping your food chilled during the trip.’

‘You what?’ I want to say back. ‘You’re just a sodden lump of frozen H2O that’s now oozing in my sink’ – before realising that I have fallen into the trap and dignified an inanimate object with the second-person singular.

And that gets me wondering what these brands’ preferred pronouns are. We do not habitually refer to those who introduce themselves with ‘I’ as ‘it’ further down the conversation. So, is the bus/bar/sofa/icepack a she/her/ he/him/they/them or what?

Stand out from the category

The ‘first-person’ trope is merely the latest expression of what Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam’s head of strategy, Martin Weigel, has bewailed as “the mind-numbing, unrelenting chattiness of consumerism”. In a tweet devoted to that gripe he focused on some Innocent-inspired back-of-pack copy for a shampoo that talked about how ‘your hair is your friend’.

Perhaps I should take a cue from the ever-thoughtful Weigel to make a serious marketing point here. Before mandating a ‘friendly’ tone of voice for your brand, check if it is really what you want – or whether you’re ready for what you’ll end up with once the agency has put its stamp on it. Not everyone wants their brands to be their friends. In fact, does anyone, ever? What if your brand’s gravitas, authority, reputation – or its very category – precludes that level of presumptive chumminess?

Before mandating a ‘friendly’ tone of voice for your brand, check if it is really what you want.

As a precautionary tale here, I offer an example from the serious, often life-and-death world of medical devices. A brand that makes probes that go into the groin and up through the vascular system to locate, and hopefully withdraw, stroke-inducing clots deep in the brain addresses surgeons thus:

‘I am a balloon guide catheter specifically designed for stroke patients. Before I came along, balloon-based variable stiffness catheters brought all manner of technological constraints. I’m here to change that. With my kink-resistant construction, I can shimmy and twist through the most challenging of neurovascular procedures.’

This puts me in mind of those books that you got in junior school that started: ‘I am John’s liver’ and continued from there to tell the tale of all the clever things that particular organ got up to in a typical day. They were a brilliant way of giving you the basics of what the various bits of the body were there to do.

But do you know why that worked so well? Because you were seven. Brain surgeons, conversely, have moved on from junior school to big school to medical school to teaching hospital, and from there to hone their specialist skills in life-critical surgical practice. They might, just maybe, be ready for something a little more – I don’t know – sophisticated.

Another reason for marketer caution is a more fundamental one. Brands are supposed to stand out. They are meant to be different from the others in the category. To have their own distinctive way of being, feeling and communicating. Unless those tonal values, those distinctive brand codes and cues, are very clearly mandated on any design or communications brief, there is a good chance you will end up as a victim of fashion.

And right now, the fashion is to become the big ‘I am’. Should you find yourself on the receiving end of a version of that, my advice is to run a mile. As ever when there is a rush for the cover of cleverness or cuteness or zeitgeisty modes of engaging with consumers, the soundest tactic is to go the other way, keep improving the substantive features of the product and service offer, and communicate with genuine, rather than ersatz, empathy and perhaps a little humility too. Is everyone out there up for that? I know I am.

You can find original article by Helen Edwards here

branding-campaign

How to Create a Successful Branding Campaign By Using Interesting Design Ideas

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Creating a successful branding campaign is no easy task. However, it is necessary to ensure that your company gets the recognition that it deserves, particularly in an increasingly crowded marketplace. To get started on this endeavor, you will need to consider different ideas that are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd. From unique design concepts to the use of bold colors, there are several ways that you can ensure that your branding campaign is a success. In this article, we will take a look at some design concepts and how you can use them to create a successful branding campaign.

 

Don’t Neglect Your Offline Branding Campaign

One common mistake that companies make when creating a branding campaign is to focus only on the online market. In today’s world of technology, more people are making purchases from their computers and via their mobile devices rather than visiting brick-and-mortar stores. To get your brand out there, however, it can still be very helpful to establish a physical presence for your company as well. You can do this by using interesting design concepts in AOP printed tablecloths or promotional posters. It will look more professional and inviting if you have a physical location in your community, and people will be more inclined to visit if they can see what you have to offer. By taking advantage of the marketing opportunities that are available to you, you will stand out from the crowd and set yourself up for success.

 

 

Use Unusual Packing Solutions

When looking at design concepts for a branding campaign, you should consider going in bold new directions that will ensure your company stands out from the competition. One creative way to do this is by using unusual packaging in your product line. For example, a company that manufactures vegetarian snacks could package the products in a fun and creative way. This could be done by using bright colors and interesting design elements that will have a lasting impact on your customers. In this case, you could use diagonal stripes as a theme and present the snacks in a triangle-shaped box. Unusual designs such as these are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd because they immediately catch people’s attention. By taking advantage of bold color schemes and interesting design concepts, you can be sure to create a strong first impression for your customers and help them remember your brand name.

 

 

Use Bold Colors

Another way that you can increase recognition for your company is by using bold colors throughout the branding campaign. For example, if you manufacture luxury products then it would make sense to incorporate luxurious colors such as gold and silver. These colors would be guaranteed to make your product stand out from the crowd and provide a strong sense of authenticity. If you are new to the industry, however, then it may be difficult for customers to take your branding campaign seriously and you will need some time to establish trust amongst your target audience. To accomplish this goal, you could use bright colors in your design schemes but play down any bolder elements until you have built up credibility. When designing products, look at ways that you can incorporate eye-catching features such as gold accents or striking patterns into your design concepts.

 

 

Explore Different Website Layouts

If you want your branding campaign to attract attention online, then it is also necessary to consider which layout designs would work best for your company’s website. One common layout design strategy is by using one dominant image with supporting information below it. If printed tablecloths fit into your branding campaign, for example, then choose an image depicting banquet hall settings printed on custom printed tablecloths over an image of individual snacks printed on printed non-woven tablecloths. This layout will be effective because your customers could share this image on social media and show their friends that they are interested in purchasing these products for their next event.

 

 

Use Your Logo as the Centerpiece of Your Branding Campaign

A core element of any branding campaign is your company logo, which should be prominently featured throughout all print designs, web design concepts, tablecloths, displays, signage, etc., to create a cohesive look for your brand. Using an abstract logo can help you stand out from the crowd but it may not be appropriate for every type of product or industry that you are involved with. Therefore, take some time to think about what message you want to convey through your branding campaign and research different design concepts to see which would be most effective. Just remember to stay consistent when it comes to the color schemes, layouts, styles, and fonts, and always use your logo as the centerpiece of all design elements.

 

The design concepts that you use for a branding campaign could make or break your company. Therefore you must do your homework and explore many different styles before deciding on a concept to fully incorporate into your brand. By following the tips above, you will have a much better chance of creating a successful branding campaign that will attract customers from all over the world and put your brand on the map.


You can find original article by Allen Brown here