Building a brand manual that provides detailed guidelines for the design elements of your brand is crucial. (Check out part 1 of this blog for insight on your visual identity.)
It’s equally as important for your manual to offer standards for the words that go along with those creative pieces.
Here are four things you should keep in mind when addressing messaging in your school’s brand manual.
It’s All About Consistency
When it comes to messaging, it’s all about being consistent. When you’re consistent in how you use words and punctuation, you build trust from your readers.
If you sometimes capitalize all of the words in your school name and other times don’t, then why should a student trust you when you provide information about their scholarship award amount or your study abroad programs?
Do you use the Oxford comma? Students don’t care. Use it, or lose it. Make a rule, and stick to it.
Does the idea of using the word “the” before your school name make you sick to your stomach? Fine. Then reject it in your brand manual.
This is also a good place to list key facts and stats about your school. Gather them in one spot here so that they are used consistently throughout your messaging.
Develop some key ideas about your school that you want to portray in your communication pieces.
Take this example: One of Capture Higher Ed’s partners wants to emphasize that they are located in a superb city that gives students access to many jobs; that the campus community is a thriving and creative one that supports each other; and that the cost to attend the school is much lower than other similar universities. If those are the three main messages you want to communicate and you’ve identified them, you can build all messaging around these items.
You also should spell out what you DON’T want to say about your school. Do you want to stay away from talk about sports? Is that not important to your students? Or is the story of how your mascot came to be an awkward and uncomfortable one that would uproot a history of your first students hurting animals? (We don’t make this stuff up.) Then stay away from that in all of your communication pieces.
Readers – especially young ones – don’t want to be marketed to. And they know when you’re doing it.
Create language and taglines that actually SAY SOMETHING.
Avoid fluffy language, and make sure that every word used offers specific information and value for your readers so they’ll keep coming back.
Where’s Your Voice?
Finally, find your voice, and don’t let it go.
Do you want your messaging to be formal? Should it all sound like it’s coming from the president of the university sitting at a large oak desk? Fine.
Do you want your messaging to be informal? Do you want to be hip and relate to your student audience and talk to them like you’re a peer? Cool.
Decide what tone you want to take. Identify it now so that all of your pieces have the same voice.
By Jacqui Boyle, Senior Communications Specialist, Capture Higher Ed