5 Reasons Why Branding Matters in Your Sales Proposals
Is your company instantly recognizable? Do your customers know what to expect even without speaking with you?
If you answered no to either of these questions, branding is how you can improve your position in the marketplace.
Branding is necessary if you want people to remember you. A brand guideline is a tool you can use to allow others at your company (and your partners) to project and strenghten your brand. Once you develop brand guidelines, it’s important you apply them to all content you create—everything from blog posts, eBooks, and emails to brochures, contracts, and sales proposals.
Here’s how you can start developing brand guidelines and five reasons why branding is so important to your sales proposals.
Developing Brand Guidelines
There are some great agencies that will go about establishing brand guidelines (and all the assets that go along with it) the proper way. However, for startups, (some) non-profits, or other agencies that don’t have agency partners (or the in-house talent), there are some things you can do on your own. Here are a few key aspects to look for when you set out to develop (or re-create) brand guidelines for your business.
The Brand Basics
A brand is a promise of value. When you present yourself in a visual way (digital, print, in-store, or otherwise), you’re conveying to the customer what they can expect from you. You need to project who you are and what your company is (and follow through), otherwise you’ll create dissonance for your customers and they’ll look for something else. Customers are smart and they will pick up on cues, so don’t try to use your brand to deceive your customers. You wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to play soccer and you shouldn’t wear soccer shorts to a black-tie gala.
The first step is to clearly understand your business, team, and how customers perceive you. Then you want to put words down that describe your company, and that becomes the basis for your brand. Are you low-key, buttoned-up, high-gloss, or down-to-earth? Once you describe your brand, you will then be able to execute on it (or have someone else do it).
Hopefully you already have a logo that accurately reflects your brand, but if you don’t, get in touch with a graphic designer immediately! This is one place you don’t want to “skimp.” If you can’t go with a world-class branding agency, there are many independent designers, as well as agencies, that will serve your business well. There are even some that will compete for your business such as 99Designs.com. Do your research and make sure you provide, in writing, a clear description of your brand. The more information you can provide to a designer, the more likely they will be to convert that message into a visual for you.
Choose two or three colors and get the RGB or hexadecimal values (hex codes) for those colors. If possible get the Pantone™ colors as well. These are ways that you can technically identify colors to designers. Precision is very important when working with a brand. You don’t want to tell a designer, “use blue,” because there are thousands of shades of blue. If you tell a designer to use a particular color and use the Pantone™ name or hexadecimal value, then they will know exactly what you’re looking for and they will pick complementary colors to work for their particular needs.
If you did your job on your brand basics, then making stock image selections should be easy. What kinds of images fit with your organization? Again, authenticity is key. If you’re highly technical and you use cute babies, there may be some explaining to do. However, if you pick architectural designs, blueprints, or other visuals that “feel” technical, your brand will reduce any disonnance. Another key aspect of images is the emotion they convey. This is harder to establish, but it is highly important. A stock image with a group of people versus a single person looking right at you creates very different emotional responses. Only you and your design team will be able to determine which is appropriate for your brand.
There are lots of articles published on fonts and I encourage you to search a few out. New fonts are created frequently. Styles and preferences change. Your brand story will also help guide your font selection. Are you trying to convey that you’re classic, “been around” and know the ropes, or are you cutting-edge? Choose two or three fonts at most for use across all of your content (both online and off) to ensure brand cohesion. Your brand guide should indicate when and where to use each particular font; for example, a particular font should be used in headings only, or never used under 8pt font, etc.
Why Branding Matters
Here are five reasons why branding matters in your sales proposals.
1. It gives you an advantage.
Adhering to brand guidelines when creating your sales proposals will position your business as sophisticated. Your sales proposal will be seen as fitting to your overall brand presentation, reassuring the prospect that you’re consistent.
2. It drives customer decisions.
According to research by McKinsey, “decision makers consider the brand a central rather than a marginal element of a supplier’s proposition.” In fact, their survey indicates “a company’s brand is on par with sales as an influencing factor.”
3. It sets you apart.
Branding is unique to you and your business; it will help set your company apart and differentiate you from the competition!
4. It increases visibility.
Adhering to your brand guidelines and building up your brand over time will help you increase online visibility. People will associate your “look” with your business, making your content more easily recognizable.
5. It bolsters your bottom line.
McKinsey also found the correlation between brand strength and financial performance to be significant. They found that “companies with brands that are perceived as strong generate a higher EBIT margin than others.” In fact, “strong brands outperformed weak brands by 20 percent.”
Branding is a key part of any business, and using branding in your sales proposals will help project professionalism and consistency.
By utilizing branding, you’ll tell your prospective clients that you take your business and image seriously, which means you’ll do the same for them.