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4 Tips for Building an Impactful Brand Toolkit: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | May 02, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking how to build an impactful brand toolkit. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: 4 Tips for Building an Impactful Brand Toolkit

An impactful brand toolkit is one of the most important things you can create for your business. But it’s just the logo, font, and colors, correct? Nope – it’s MUCH more than that. An impactful brand toolkit must include both visual and verbal elements, builds consistency with sample executions, and does not have to mean you overhaul what currently exists. We’ve done some version of a toolkit for nearly every client we’ve had onboard since the inception of ForthRight People, and are super passionate about its role in bringing your brand to life. This episode covers everything from logos to brand feel. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you build an impactful brand toolkit?
  • Why is it MUCH more than the logo, font, and colors?
  • What are Brand Guidelines?
  • Why should your brand toolkit include both visual AND verbal elements?
  • What is the point of sample executions?
  • How does PowerPoint play into your brand toolkit?
  • Do you need to overhaul what currently exists with your brand?
  • How did the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa create an awesome experience?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you miss anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to

April Martini 0:30
Marketing Smarts!

Anne Candido 0:31
I am Anne Candido.

April Martini 0:32
And I am April Martini. And today we’re going to cover a topic that I would have sworn we had done in the past until an went on a search of all the previous episodes and realize we had not and that is 4 tips to build an impactful brand toolkit. And one of the reasons we’re so baffled is that we have done some version of a toolkit for I would venture to say nearly every client we have on board since the inception of forthright people. And the other reason is that we are I especially am very passionate about why it’s of utmost importance to have an impactful brand toolkit versus what we have often seen claimed to be one and we will get into that in detail today.

Anne Candido 1:14
Yes. And one of the things we see regulated, I really wanted to point out before we get into this discussion is a difference between a brand toolkit and brand guidelines. Right. So a brand toolkit should be a set of creative assets, both visual and verbal, the brain, the brand the life in an authentic and consistent manner across all the touch points. So this is different than brand guidelines that tend to have many, many, many, many pages, sometimes way too many pages of how the brand is supposed to be executed. So it’s things like you can position the logo this way, but not this way. Or you can have it not reversed or you can have it reversed. So it basically just articulates all the way that all your brand assets are supposed to be leveraged.

April Martini 1:55
Yes, that’s exactly right. And good point and clarification. And like I said, we will talk much more about that throughout the episode. And that leads very nicely into our first point in four tips to build an impactful brand toolkit. And the first one is a brand toolkit is much more than the logo, font and colors. So to the very point that and just me there tends to be a lot of confusion. And quite frankly, Miss execution. That’s a word when it comes to it is today. Now when it comes to a brand toolkit, and you’ve heard us say before on the show that will ask clients if they have a brand, and they’ll say yes, and then we come to find out that they have a logo and maybe a few fonts and a few colors. So there for the point of this point, the same thing tends to be true of the toolkit. So hear me when I say this brand toolkit consists of many more elements associated with your brand and already said verbal and visual than just the logo, font and colors. And we have seen brand guidelines that have well over 100 pages, which we would argue in total brand guidelines are outdated, unnecessary, and really a waste of money anymore. And on those pages, it’s just really how to bring to life those three elements that is not the toolkit. So what is the toolkit, again, all the visual and verbal assets to bring your brand to life. This includes your strategic foundational elements like your brand story, your character, your tone of voice, and then how those things are brought to life through all of the visual elements. So yes, logo font colors, but photography, treatments, textures, iconography, macro and micro visual elements, the usage of all the these items, also inclusive of executions, and we are really big fans of before and after examples of executions. The reason for that is you can give people all the tools in the world, but if you don’t show them how to use them. And even better if you can show them how to use them in context, it’s hard for them to be able to make the leap even with the very best strategic toolkit elements, everything you could ever need. It’s hard to say okay, now what does that look like, like when it comes to life. But they can also be totally new executions as well. It’s just a little easier if somebody has something familiar that they can start from. And we said in the intro that the point of the toolkit is to build a consistent and authentic brand experiences, all of these items together are needed to do this. It really is unfair and unreasonable to think that you can have just the logo, font and colors and be able to do it all, especially given the fact that there’s so many options within the world of marketing and advertising today, if you think of digital, just in and of itself and how many options there are there. So that’ll bring us to the next point. But first I’m gonna let and jump in and give her point of view.

Anne Candido 4:37
The way I look at it is this is basically like your brief of your brand. Yep. Right? It’s for anyone it’s internal or external. That’s doing work against your brand and make sure that all these things show up in a very consistent manner. And you might not think it matters. It doesn’t probably matter if it’s like two things right? You know, the blue is a little bit different or you know, the fonts a little bit different but then two things become Um, for things, eight things, and then they go physical things and digital things. And all of a sudden, that blue that didn’t really matter in two of the elements now is like, you know, a dark navy blue over here and a lighter blue over here. And all of a sudden people are like, I don’t even know what this brand is because I can’t visibly in visually internalize it, because it looks so different amongst all these different materials. And when that happens, your brand starts looking very fragmented, it starts looking very disjointed and doesn’t look very polished. So people start to question the quality of your brand. So all these cues, and clues definitely impact the quality of what you’re trying to represent. So this is going to help people really understand how to create against your brand in a consistent manner.

April Martini 5:51
Yeah, and the other thing I’ll say, there is, you know, we’ll get the pushback sometimes of like, you just said, I don’t have a lot of elements, or I don’t have a lot of places where this works. Number one, that’s not true anymore. But number two, if you don’t have consistency, and you know, that example of the blue color being different, right? Sometimes we’ll get the pushback of like, nobody notices. Nobody can tell number one, yes, they can. But number two, if you don’t have it nailed down somewhere, you know, what happens? Your team squirrel. And so they go to create something, and they waste a lot of time and energy and resources either trying to hunt down which one is right, or the most consistently used, or creating something new, because they don’t like the one that’s there. I mean, this is where it can get to be a little bit of the wild, wild west. And you have so much of a better chance of getting things consistent and authentic, like we said, but then also saving time and frustration and energy within the internal teams that have to create against this toolkit.

Anne Candido 6:50
Yeah, and I think what you said about they’ll just make it up. Otherwise, we see that happen a lot when when people profess themselves to be immature designer. Hmm, then all of a sudden, in a palette that’s supposed to be one set of colors, a red shows up and where did the red come from? And then all of a sudden, somebody else sees red and like, Oh, I like pink instead. So I’m gonna start using pink and all of a sudden, your brand assets look like a rainbow.

April Martini 7:15
Yeah, I think I’ve referenced this before. But it’s worth saying here. I had one client who did have I think theirs was well over 100 pages, brand guidelines. But all they had was the logo, the blue color, and the two fonts. You know what happened? Every internal committee, team, sub brand product offering had its own color, and we had to do the exercise to collect everything to decide what could stay in what could go, it looked like the freaking rainbow. And not only did you have red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, but you had six different reds. And on Anne’s point, some that were pinker and some orange or red. And I mean, we were like howling laughing at the end of it. Because I mean, otherwise you would have cried. But it was just like how in the world does this happen? Well, exactly like this, because you didn’t have the toolkit in place where people felt like they had the flexibility to create what they needed to but then also the rules around it. Yep, absolutely. All right, number two, and I mentioned this in the first one, but it definitely deserves its own point, the brand toolkit must include both visual and verbal elements. A lot of those historic brand guideline documents that we talked about are missing the verbal strategy. And while we know and I’ve experienced this as a strategist to the point of PTSD, many times in my career, the visual elements are exciting and sexy and stimulating. And all of these things, you know, a picture’s worth 1000 words. That’s why that exists, right? A bunch of words on page aren’t super exciting to look at. But they have to work together if you’re going to have any chance of your brand, meaning anything. And this is where the toolkit elements do have to be chosen with care. And that care should be through the lens of your brand strategy. So the sub point here is you must do the verbal elements First, in all cases before you ever try to go down the path of visual executions. And then all of those visual executions need to be based off of those strategic elements. So again, the story of the character, the tone of voice, sometimes there are additional ones, there’s brand architecture, there’s mission, vision values, there’s all kinds of wordy strategic things that exist out there. But if you don’t have those elements, this is another place where we see brands fall very, very flat because they don’t have a starting point. So then it just becomes an exercise in subjectivity. What people’s favorite colors are, what they’re feeling that day, what brand they saw that they would like to emanate, or they go on Fiverr and they get a logo created. Yeah, And they get, you know, 100 options for $500, or whatever the rate is. And they’re like, Oh, I like that one. And they just go ahead and pick it. And so it’s not based on anything. And so how you can expect an experience to be created, let alone consumers to emotionally be attracted to you any of those types of things, that doesn’t happen. And it happens more than you would think. And we’re not here to, you know, call people to the mat, I guess, or accuse them of doing it wrong. I don’t think it comes from a negative place. I think it just comes from a lack of understanding about how all these elements work together. And the importance of establishing your why through your brand story, and then how those things come to life through your brand character. And then you have a lens and some parameters to work from. We also get the pushback that designers don’t want the parameters of the guardrails, I’m here to tell you right now, and this is a separate episode in and of itself. But I’ll just get on my soapbox all throughout this, I guess, that it is really, really important, but also very impactful for designers to have those guardrails, because otherwise they’re trying to boil the ocean, right? They’re thinking of every possible creative execution out there. And what comes back then, is either watered down or not applicable, or they wasted all their energy just trying to brainstorm and it makes it really hard to then translate that into a visual brand that has appeal and is effective in is on strategy. So I will stop talking now. But hopefully, you hear the case for it being a verbal and visual brand toolkit or brand and compasses both sides of that coin. Yeah, I

Anne Candido 11:38
have. I have two things to say about this, because I think it’s a really, really important point. And one is, and I will say until we started working together, I didn’t fully appreciate the power of the brand toolkit. And I mean, we all had one, obviously, for all of our brands at p&g, and I’ve seen others even outside of p&g, but I didn’t really understand the full value of it until I actually saw someone design for one, right and seeing the difference when everything kind of comes together and how a designer actually processes through what visual elements are going to convey the actual story of your brand, it’s actually just a fantastic art. And when people really do it well, like our designers who are awesome, it carries so much weight that actually establishes the cornerstone of your brand. That not having it used to start from very weak place to begin, yes, like building your house on sand. Why would you build your house on sand, you want to build your house on a very strong foundation and a strong foundation is a well designed and cultivated brand toolkit that has all these elements coming together in order to be able to really sell your story, because that’s the point. Right? So I wanted to say that because that was definitely something I learned. But then the second thing I want to say is that words are sexy. So for those less so maybe, but yes, I’m gonna beg to differ. I, you know, I come from the PR side of the business, right? And you have to convince me I love the words I know. But when you think about communications, and you think about how people are actually sharing your brand, or a lot of times they’re sharing it through words, right. And so it’s really important that those words have meaning and they have intention. So you have to develop your brand story in order to have that y that impact really define because that is what’s going to springboard all your message tracks, it’s going to make sure that everybody across your business, we’re all functions are consistently telling your story and the way that you want it to be told, because otherwise, just like the visual elements, that starts looking very fragmented, because people start making up whatever they want to make up about the business. And so you find out your salesperson is selling this, but your marketing is actually talking about this, and then it doesn’t come together. I mean, one, it’s a really huge loss opportunity to it’s just a matter of inefficiency and spending money that is not going to work for you and three, you don’t get the power of the brand to lift everything up. And that’s what scale is all about. So if you’re not intentionally creating the words, a giant lot of times the visuals don’t have the same impact. They don’t have the same level of gravitas because the words are needed in order to reinforce it becomes together in order to complete the picture. So that everybody has the full set of tools in order to go sell the business. Yeah, and

April Martini 14:27
I appreciate what you said at the beginning about it being a bit of an art form, because it is very much that and the strategy, I think, to the point you just made and we talk all the time about brand, being a tool in your business toolkit, right to make sure that you’re making the right decisions for your business through that lens. But, you know, we went through this exercise, as I said, with almost every client but we’ll have one that’s very top of mind and the frustration associated with their toolkit was to the point where no one wanted to do the work and you more like it was just like I’m running up against the same problem over and over and over and over again. And the power of the words came in, when we were able to want to establish that they didn’t have the tools, right, they hadn’t done the story and the character and all that. But beyond that, when we could express that the toolkit wasn’t working, because they were over indexing in half of what their brand stood for, and not bringing the other half to life. And then we showed them what that meant visually by breaking down the existing elements. In this case, we did have some where we said, you need to forego these and not use these anymore to balance it, right. But we did keep the integrity of certain elements, we didn’t redo it. On the other half, we brought to life more of what we were calling like the mastery and the craftsmanship. And before it, it just been all really hard, heavy hard lines, big bold brand messaging and visuals and things when you counteracted it and you gave it some breathing room with the other side of it the sense of relief among the team. And then the comment which this is maybe not going to sound quite right was. And it was such a simple solution. Right. That’s the beauty of artistry, right? It’s not that it actually was a simple exercise for us. In fact, I will say I will vary a bit of the complicated. Yeah, I will tell you peek behind the curtain that the designer and I were like, well, what the hell are we doing with this one, right. But

Anne Candido 16:22
created the strategic tools had that to fall back on evaluated the existing brand against those tools realized half was missing. And then the exercise became a lot less complicated for us, and for them, but I think it just proves the point that you have to do it all together in order to get there because they had established a few things that they stood for, and then just run with that. Yeah, because you have to keep in mind, you’re building a personality. Exactly right. And so it’d be like an E, you always refer to the brand in a very humanistic way, April, which is like if you’re just doing the visual elements of it. And without like the way that a person sounds or the way that they present themselves, in the way that they construct their presence. I’m like, it doesn’t have a complete total personality. It’s complete total vibe, you’re missing part of the brand. And so therefore, it becomes very hard then, like you said to design against it, and it becomes very subjective. Whereas somebody over here is like, Oh, I like it when you know, we’re kind of snarky and funny. Well, I don’t like snarky and funny because it makes us look unprofessional. Right? And so it starts becoming a you me who wins here versus having a very well intentioned list of brand attributes that allow you to then to make that decision in a much more objective way.

April Martini 17:40
Yep. 100%. All right, our third point here, sample executions go a long way to build consistency. And I touched on this in the first one, too, but this is another one that deserves its own day in the sun, as they say, I don’t know who they are. But, but really the point of this is, another misconception we see is if the toolkit quote unquote, however it shows up, doesn’t just have the logo colors and fonts, and there has been some effort to get it photographic style, or there’s some iconography or some other things. Where it falls off is when there are no executions to refer to. Because then again, you’re relying on the choices to be made by a variety of folks that are working against your brand. Even if you have designed staff, there’s still variability, those folks are patients who yes, and how they’re going to interpret it. And that’s because every designer I’ve ever worked with, including myself are visual human beings, right? And so you have to kind of step us through how it’s going to work and how it’s supposed to be brought to life. And so for example, if you think about all the applications that exist in a business to bring it to life, right, you have PowerPoint templates, you have Facebook posts, you have websites, you have letterheads, you have packaging, you have on site, signage, you have building signage, you have environments, right, there’s all these different ways that needs to be applied. And so the important thing here is to be able to show the transformation through the execution of the toolkit of those elements. And so I said before, that we’re really big fans of before and after, because I think that when you can give somebody something that they’ve seen every day, right, like the PowerPoint presentation, they know what it exists, they’ve been working on it, whatever as one example, and you show them the new version, they’re able to make that leap in their head of okay, I can see now how this is going to be different. You know, that example I gave before where we went and said, Okay, here’s what you had before. Here’s what we would eliminate. Here’s what we would bring in and then we went into the execution phase here is what your PowerPoint template used to look like. Here’s what it looks like. Now, here is you know, a deck that you use to show from a sales collateral perspective. This is what it looks like now. Now, the caveat here is, you don’t have to do a 36 page PowerPoint presentation, execution to show people what it looks like, that’s not really what we’re saying here from a before and after perspective, you take a sampling of the slides or the pages or the whatever, and you show this is what it was before. And this is what it looks like now. And then people can make the leap from there to execute the rest of it. So this isn’t meant to be something where you go and you take every piece of collateral you’ve ever built, and redo it or everything that is in the rotation. Now, it’s just to give enough of a nod so that people have something tangible to latch on to, in order to go ahead and make the new executions. The one caveat, I will say here is there are times where things are really, really broken. And you do have to do a restart or an overhaul. So if the elements just are not serving the business, or the sales team or whoever, on any level, then you do have to take a step back and say, Okay, we do need to start to create new things. And sometimes that’s we have all new channels, and we never did those things, or we’re in digital for the first time or a website hasn’t been touched in 100 years. You know, there are arguments for that no matter what though, the toolkit needs to create some level of execution, so that people can understand in the real world, how these things are going to come to life.

Anne Candido 21:29
And all they have some maybe some tactical ways of being able to execute this, if you’re kind of wondering like, How can I how do I go about doing this? And April, I invite you to agree with me or disagree with me.

April Martini 21:42
Depends on mood I’m in today.

Anne Candido 21:43
That’s true. So the one way I would suggest at least kicking this off is to do a audit in a training session format. Yep. Right. So that you have a bunch of people that are going to be touching your brand your business in a room together. So they’re hearing all of the critique all of the feedback all at once. So that’s why you can calibrate it in the room at that moment, between the interpretations so that other people are seeing it. And so that really helps people just to get on the same page, or at least start from a common understanding versus having a very siloed in like, oh, well, we’re gonna train Amy. And because AMI does digital, okay, now we’re gonna go train, you know, so and so because they do are collateral, like, if you can bring all those people together, you can do that before afters. And it starts to really more expedite the understanding the knowledge in collaboration, so that people can understand how it’s supposed to be coming together. And the more that you can make that principle based, the better because sometimes when these things become we can use lines here are not curved, we use this in space, but not in space here, right? It starts to become like very clouded as like, like almost like one of those flow diagrams, if yes, do this, if no do that, right. But if you can make it very principle based about with regards to when we use this level of visual or when we use these sorts of verbal people can start then to use that as a way to train their brain versus getting kind of in the muddy muck. And then you always should have somebody who oversees visual in some person who oversees the verbal in order to make the final call, so that you is lettering back up into one person that basically owns the visual and verbal communications for your brand or business. So I invite you to provide perspective there.

April Martini 23:35
I think that that’s totally true. It can’t just live. I mean, like everything we talked about, from a brand perspective, if you’re going to launch anything, you have to onboard people to it, right. And I think you’re right, I have to my point of diminishing returns of redoing an entire deck, you don’t need to have one off meetings with different folks, you can run trainings at one time, I mean, we’re about to undergo this exact thing with that client I was referencing before where our designer is going to assist in educating a younger designer on that team on how to flesh out toolkits for each individual sub brand. Right. So we have the major one, she’s going to oversee that process, he’s going to do a lot of the heavy lifting, oh, by the way, he’s also going to do a lot of the work, right. But then also one of the other tools in the toolkit that I think can be helpful is to have an evaluation loop for a period of time. So you just mentioned having one person or two, you know, verbal and visual person own things. That’s true. But also, this is one of those places where you really have to make sure you get it right. So if you have fill in the blank, a younger designer or new people on the team, or people who haven’t necessarily done this type of work before or even just people that are like, hey, I want to be the brand manager but I’m not totally sure all the ins and outs like you said in that it’s totally fine to have whoever created the toolkit or the team that did it too. We have that feedback loop for a period of time. So we created X, what do you think? And then you know, and this is, you know, plug for us, but our team can stay involved and say, Okay, this is 90% there, but you need to not use these arcs here, or this is safe space for this, or whatever they can get into that level of detail. Or it can also be, hey, you know, at the really high level, we don’t think that this overall execution works, how you have it, and this is why and we would use this instead. But it does help to bring it to life, there’s also only so much you can anticipate, right? So there are cases where people bring us stuff. And even if we did the full audit of all the materials that exists, something new inevitably pops up, and it’s like, oh, okay, I can see how and why you did that. But we didn’t really think about that piece in particular. So we would nuance these things, or reframe it this way, or whatever. But it just takes the pressure off, you know, some of that swirl I talked about before, where if you don’t have the tools, or they don’t work appropriately than the teams just swirl that can happen on this side, too, if you don’t take the time to have the open dialogue and continue to evaluate and, and redefine. Yeah, agree. All right. And the fourth and final point here is the toolkit does not have to mean that you overhaul what exists currently. And this is a very, very big point here. So when we tell our clients, they need a brand toolkit, the biggest pushback we get is I already spent X time money resources to get us where we are, we like our logo just like it is there’s legacy tied to what we have. All of this may be justified and true. And actually, it’s totally okay with us. We’re in the business of making things better and more strategic, we’re not one of those agencies, and we never will be that comes in and tells you everything is wrong. And you have to start over. And that will be my soapbox for the day, because I’ve worked for them. And we’ll just stop there. But since the inception of our business, we’ve done dozens and dozens of toolkits at this point, they always look different. And I will go on the record and say that 75% of them at least include existing elements. And the reason for that only being 75% is because we have created brand new brands that didn’t exist before. So therefore, we were starting the toolkit from scratch. But that’s because there was nothing out there. If a company comes in and says and I guess I’m hopping back on the soapbox, but says you have to do it all over, you need to get a second opinion. Yeah, and yes, this is a shameless plug for us. But it doesn’t even have to be us Do not sign up for a review without checking with somebody else. You might need it but 90% of the time, I’m going to tell you, you probably don’t, the only time it is irrelevant is if you’re doing a total revolution of your brand. If things have gotten so tired, so sleepy, so irrelevant, or you’re you know, entering your brand new space, yes, there are reasons for brand creation from the very bottom. But in most cases, if there are elements that are working for you that have been around a long time, that means a lot to people at the company, you can keep those you absolutely can keep those. Now on the other side of this, you have to be flexible, when you do find a partner that’s going to come in and say, Yes, you can keep those elements, you do need to listen to them on the other side, if they come in and say things are broken, or you can’t move forward without this, or the blue is actually not as consistent as you thought it was. And as we dug into the files, there’s nine different iterations of it. Those are the types of things that you do need to listen to and hear them out. I’ll give you an example. We had a toolkit where the designer got into the logo and said, I’m not comfortable working with this file, it’s not built appropriately, at some point, it’s going to break down and corrupt. And I’m not going to put my name on that, right. And so we had to go back and say we won’t change the integrity of the logo, no one will notice, however, the file needs to be redone. And you’re gonna have to we’re gonna have to add that to the budget, because it’s not going to sustain for the future. There’s also a lot of digital impact these days. So a lot of these toolkits that we see are non toolkits, I guess, have fonts that don’t work on the web, you can’t get them. And if you try to convert them, it breaks. So there are instances. So I think it does become a little bit of you know, you hear us out, we’ll hear you out. But the bigger point of this whole point is, generally speaking, I will say you do not have to forego everything you have done before. In order to create the toolkit, we’re much more in the business of surrounding you with the tools you need, filling in the gaps of what you don’t have, and making sure that the strategy is really sound so that the toolkit will be effective for you know, 95% of the situations that exists today.

Anne Candido 29:47
Yeah, I think all those are really good points. And I think it’s it’s really the difference between an agency who gets branding and an agency who doesn’t owe 100,000% Because when you’re thinking about building a personality, a lot of times if you’re gonna go to an agency You have quote unquote, agency to go and do your brand toolkit, they are going to give you the three fundamental things, your logo, your colors and your fonts, right? Those are the three things that you generally get. And then you get your brand guidelines to go with those. What a lot of people miss, and a lot of these agencies miss, which I really appreciate, based on what our designers can do is to secondary elements, the iconography, the textures mean, these add an element of WoW, to your materials that you can’t just get from a font logo and colors, right? So this is like what a lot of times people are craving, when they start to design on their own as they they’re looking for a little bit that says, Oh, how do I spice this thing up. And that’s why they’re kind of creating on their own. But if you have a suite of these things that they can leverage, they can layer. Of course, within reason like this is not supposed to be like a willy nilly, you can use them however you want kind of thing, they all have specific purposes, you are you have a lot more flexibility, right, so then your materials could still all a cohesive, but they can look somewhat a little bit different depending on where they are, what channel you’re leveraging. And that gives you the ability to add on new product offerings or new service offerings, and have that look a little bit different. You can use iconography for those sorts of things, you can then make sure that your photography that you’re displaying actually looks very consistent. So you’re not using these elements of maybe cartoons and one or sketch art one and but you’re using then real photography, another that starts to look very disjointed. And people are not exactly sure what to believe about that. So all of these elements start to bring out that personality and start making things come to life in a very cohesive way. That starts adding some depth of character to your personality. So it doesn’t feel like all one note, it doesn’t feel like it’s just a one trick pony is starting to have depth, but it still consistently all looks like the brand. It’s the same thing on the verbal side, right. So once you have your brand story and you have your brand character and your tone of voice, you start to create those into like I said, message tracks deeds become messages that your sales folks are using, these become messages that just show up on your Google Ads in your marketing materials, that starts to kind of create then an element of depth, that you’re you can use the same core messages. So people understand those, and it starts to resonate with them. But you can see them in a slightly different way. You can have different ways in to talk to different customers and consumers and clients, you can start to flex a little bit, but still stay cohesively anchored to your brand. Otherwise, like I said before, if everything starts to look disjointed, and you don’t have the power of the brand ellipse, yep. So don’t underestimate the value of these secondary elements. Again, I would say of the 75% that we don’t overhaul like, that’s probably most of the work that we do is adding those elements, we might sharpen some things up, make some strategic choices about the colors and the fonts. And, and we might make some comments about the logo about refreshing the logo if we feel like it’s needed. But a lot more of it is like adding the freshness, actually, that comes with adding those secondary elements.

April Martini 33:03
Yeah, and I think that’s really where the wow factor in that relief that I mentioned earlier comes for our clients, I mean, fresh in my mind, because we just presented one of these yesterday. And the owner said something along the lines of I’m paraphrasing, but have, I would have never been able to envision this. And now I really want to go there. And now I understand the value and the level of sophistication which that’s was my interpretation of what he said, right? But like, of where we can actually go to be different in the marketplace, right. And we’ve had a ton of conversations about how you could take the logo off of any of the competitors stuff, including some of their stuff, quite honestly, and put any other logo in the business. And you wouldn’t know the difference. But this was the moment where it really clicked, where we started to show the value of those secondary elements and how necessary they actually are to reach that heightened level of sophistication and break away from everybody. You know, I mean, I could just see the look in the room where it was like, Oh, you were saying these words. But now that I see it in execution, I completely understand what that means. Yeah,

Anne Candido 34:14
I don’t get it until I get it. Yes, I’m what I see. And what I hear then it’s like,

April Martini 34:18
oh, yeah, well, they could see the problem, right? It’s kind of missing. Yeah. But it was like, I don’t know how to go and solve that. And even when we said secondary elements, develop the toolkit, you know, and we had showed in prior examples, but it was like, it just clicked you hit home and it was like, oh, and then all of the broken things were like now I understand why those were not working and what we were running up against.

Anne Candido 34:42
Yeah, so 90% of problems can be solved with brand. That’s exactly

April Martini 34:45
right. Yeah. All right. So our next segment is always a brand that is doing things well or not so well when it comes to their marketing smarts and based on our experiences and observations and this one’s fresh in my mind as I’m fresh off the beach, or at least when we’re recording this episode. And so the one that I want to talk about is the Harbor Beach Marriott, which is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And the thing that I found really interesting and and I always talk about how we can’t turn our brains off even on vacations. Yeah, yes, that’s true, is I was very impressed by the consideration of the target audiences within this space and how they were handled accordingly. And so I look at it as they’re kind of serving three groups, but two of them are closely tied based on the experience. So you have the conferences, and I’ll talk a little bit about that. But then you also have adults that are at this resort. And then families with kids that are at this resort, so inclusive of adults, obviously. But you had just as many that were just adults coming here. Don’t vacations versus family vacations versus conferences. Yes, exactly, exactly. And so therefore, the target markets and so I interestingly, my family used to go to this resort when I was younger, but I haven’t been in over 20 years. And so I think the layer of what’s been optimized and changed through the lens of the audiences became really apparent to me. But some of the things that struck me is, I think, in previous experiences we’ve had, you never really get the balance of adult to families with kids, right. So it feels like it fits more with one versus the other. And in this case, I thought they did a really nice job of integrating the two. So for example, we’ve been to resorts where there are adult only pools, and then there are kids pools, right. But that in and of itself kind of creates this wall or barrier of us versus them. In this case, there was an area of where you could reserve seats, that was adults only. But it was as part of the whole pool and the experience. Then you had where and I’ve been to ones where it over indexes on catering to kids, right? Like there’s 85 activities through the day, there’s a microphone at all times. It’s like high energy chaos, which I that’s not going vacation. This was very strategic, same time everyday activities at 11am, there was some sort of water activity for the kids that the adults could also do if they wanted to. At three o’clock, there was some kind of like game. So like Pictionary, or Bingo or something at 230, they served warm chocolate chip cookies every day. And outside of that, it was not kid focused was kid friendly. It wasn’t kid focused. So if you’re an adult, you could leave at those times, which let’s be real, it was like 1520 minutes, and most of it was pretty funny. Or you could participate. Or you you know, just sat there and knew that it would be overseen, right. And then for the adults of the families with children, the areas were strategically set where for example, at the beach, they had all of the you know, cornhole, soccer goals, volleyball nets, but they had built since I’d been there, the last time a bar and like a grill directly next to it. So the parents could sit and enjoy their time and look out at the ocean and also have the kids within their view, doing whatever they were doing. On the other side of things, what I found interesting is we’ve been to plenty of resorts where there’s like a dining room that’s kid friendly, and one that is not well, we like food and nice restaurants. And so our kids on this trip were very much welcome within the fancier dining room. And it wasn’t done with like an IRA when the server walks up, and my kids are there, right. But it wasn’t a, they were taught to just as much they were respected as part of the group. Now, manners and behaving are a big part of our education within our family and the roles. But I didn’t feel like Oh, are we going to be looked at a different way because we’re bringing our kids in the nicer dining room. And so for all of this, I think it was a really, really nice experience. It was thoughtful, you could tell that they were planning with the target audiences in mind. The other thing I want to say about the conference groups is and how they experience this, I always hate when you go to a resort, but you spend no time outside until you’re in the conference room the entire time, you’re like I’m in this beautiful location. Here. They had designated areas also for the conference groups that were integrated in the spaces but also separate enough, right. So like an outdoor area where they didn’t have general people that were staying at the hotel, but that was an area where they could have their event whatever. The outdoor restaurant, a portion of it was sectioned off if there was conference that night. So it was like I saw the conference people almost as much but not in a way that we’re like we’re all in our swimsuits and they’re doing their business stuff, but also not like quarantined off in the indoor conference area. It just felt like it was all highly functioning and they had thought about like how to include and incorporate but not overly focused on one versus the other. And I think sometimes we know this when you have target audiences, it’s easy to over index in one and kind of leave others behind this one I felt like it was comfortable and pleasant and considered no matter which of the three kind of groupings you are a part of.

Anne Candido 40:04
Yeah, it’s very interesting, because I’m sure they have a target group that they do target. Oh 100%, regardless of its family is the conference goers are the adults, like there’s one that they’re going after. But they’re being very mindful that they’re not alienating the others, right? So if your primary group is going to be 60% of your business, where are you getting the other 40% from? Right, and you have to be very strategic about how you’re going to orient those experiences so that everybody is maximizing their enjoyment of the facility without it feeling like, yeah, a big compromise or overly taxing the staff? Yes. Or having to have such a huge place that you have, then it just impacts your bottom line, right. So it’s the same thing that like you said, that we think about when we’re trying to orchestrate our brand love vehicles, if you will, that are like trying to get to those customers, clients, or consumers in a way that’s going to attract them emotionally connect with them by being very strategic, and how those things are oriented? And how do you draw those common themes across, but I’m sure they have some common themes about what’s important, the principle based thing that we just talked about further toolkit applies here, what are the principles that we need to maintain? The rest of the stuff may kind of be okay, like, you know, fine, there might be kids at the restaurant. But you know, I bet is strategically laid out that the kids and the families kind of have some part of the dining room and some of the adults are probably reserved at other parts of the dining room. So it’s not like this big like hodgepodge, or homogeneous collection of everything in everybody just trying to work it out. So what I’m kind of getting from this story that you’re telling is that when you’re thinking about how you’re orchestrating this, think about that from the core group, but also think about how to not alienate the others, but do it from the constant principle based of what you’re going to, or what you’re trying to achieve across the board. Yep, that’s

April Martini 41:59
exactly right. All right. So just to recap four tips to build an impactful brand toolkit. Number one, a brand toolkit is much more than the logo, font and colors. It consists of these elements plus all your verbal elements plus photography, textures, patterns, iconography, and more. Number two, the brand toolkit must include both visual and verbal elements, a brand is not a logo. And if you have a logo with no strategy, it won’t be strong enough to build an authentic brand experience. Number three sample executions go a long way to building consistency. It’s not enough to just create the elements and house them in the toolkit you have to show intended usage to build understanding and application. And number four, the toolkit does not have to mean that you overhaul what exists currently it’s perfectly possible and reasonable to add elements to complement what you already have. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!