SAN FRANCISCO — Consistency in branding is an ongoing challenge for all companies.

Even the best most iconic logos must be tweaked and updated periodically to remain current and appealing to the target market.

If there is any question in your mind about the veracity of these statements, search the logo history of your favorite brand. The timely updates are often too subtle to even notice unless you see the versions side by side.

Since consistency of branding is a critical factor to make the most of your promotional budget, taking the Brand Challenge is a very productive effort for any management team.

Is your logo iconic and current or does the existing array of your company media look like the chaotic mess of the proverbial dog’ s breakfast?

Perhaps your logo is used harmoniously throughout the company but looks like it is stuck in your grandparents’ era? Does that appeal to the current customers and the clientele you want to attract?

Every company should regularly take the Brand Challenge to ensure appropriate updates are being scheduled and implemented.

THE BRAND CHALLENGE:

1. For your next management meeting, assign your team a preparation project. Have them scour the company for samples of all media seen inside and outside the company that might be construed as branding.

If the example is not easily portable to your meeting room, have them take a picture of it and print it for the meeting.

The list of possibilities is endless, so the number of samples to be reviewed should be huge. Prepare to plaster the table, walls, windows, easels, floors and projection screens with the collected images. Prepare to exhibit all of it at once.

The list should begin with and build from:

  • Signage (be sure all versions from every location are represented)
  • Letterhead and stationery
  • Business cards
  • Company vans, trucks, cars and any other vehicle Website (all pages)
  • Social media presence (all variations)
  • Published advertising (all publications, all variations)
  • Flyers
  • Packaging (all variations)
  • Hang tags
  • Uniforms (all variations)
  • Non-uniform attire of the entire team
  • Store exteriors (all sides)
  • Lobbies (photograph each one from all angles to show what customers see)
  • Delivery people (both store and route)
  • Customer service representatives
  • Production staff
  • Newsletters (hard copy as well as electronic)
  • Staff headgear (sanctioned or not)
  • Delivery carts
  • Route promotional materials (consumer and business)
  • Handouts of every description
  • Promotional items provided for event participation of any kind
  • Press releases
  • Photo op announcements
  • Anything and everything that is visual in around and about your company

2. Before the meeting begins, assign general category areas for the samples, such as table for stationery, wall for store exterior store photos, windows for van. Be sure to assign a miscellaneous locale for unique items. Provide plenty of non-permanent tape for attaching the samples.

3. Begin the meeting by having your managers post their samples in/on the general areas for each category.

4. Ask your management team to take 5-10 minutes to individually assess the examples and write notes of their personal initial observations.

5. Have each manager share their individual observations with the entire team.

6. Tally the observations by category on a white board (electronic or manual) or flip chart so they can be captured for future use and reference. The format should be visible for the duration of the meeting.

7. As a group, select items that you all feel proudly represent your company in their current version and group them together.

  • List what makes them representative of your company identity.
  • Note which categories are covered by the selected samples.
  • List the categories that are not represented by the “proud” samples.
  • Provide check marks by the ones that need to be tweaked to be timely or could use updating for any reason.
  • Do they all use the same version of your logo?
  • Do they all have a currently consistent look about them?
  • If you saw one of the samples alone, would it be instantly recognizable as being produced just for your company alone?

8. Choose the best of this selected group and discuss why they best represent your logo and brand. Note: While doing this exercise, keep in mind that:

  • Everything Apple does has the current version of their logo prominently displayed.
  • Amazon boxes always display their logo as the most visible thing you see, even from a distance.
  • The Nike swoosh is always wherever Nike is.
  • The McDonald’s arches can be seen for miles.
  • Is there any way to avoid the Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook or Google logo for longer than 5 minutes?

9. For the categories that are not represented in the “proud and current” group above:

  • Determine which media groups are relevant and valuable.
  • Select the remaining versions that are the “best” from the category group.
  • Determine what necessary revisions would be required to meet your current branding ideal.
  • Implement a plan to bring the critical media groups to your new standards level.

10. After completing the steps above, determine what categories of promotional media are missing in your current collection and that should be added to your materials.

11. Unless you or someone on your immediate team is a media/graphic professional, it is time to engage a pro to assist in taking the process from your initial assessment and recommendations to a professional reality.

Your branding and logo can be as iconic in your market as the most recognizable and ubiquitous brands that surround all of us every day.

It just takes awareness and constant vigilance to ensure this is a reality instead of a dream.