Guide: How to create a company brand book for a UK SME – with brand book examples

company brand book

Every successful business in the world has a Company Brand Book which is simply an agreed written guide to the fundamental values and behaviours of the business. These guides not only make sure that the marketing is effective but that they hire the right people and train them correctly.

We’ve developed our own process to create a powerful and useful book for our clients who don’t have the six figure budgets of the multi-nationals. This article will take you through that process to give you full understanding.

1. Gather information on your target market and sector.

Desk research or ‘proper’ market research?

Proper market research is done by specialist companies such as Kantar at the very top end of the market and more affordable yet still excellent companies such as Ragdoll. Market research is valuable but by no means essential in all cases. This is your first big decision – if you can afford to employ such a company – you’re unlikely to spend less than £25,000 – then do so.

Market research will inform the part of your brand book that talks about your buyers – questions such as

  • Who is our buyer?
  • What do they think of us ?
  • What are they worried about?
  • Where do they live?
  • How much do they earn?
  • What type of house/ car / hobbies do they have?
  • What competitors do they like and why ?
  • Why do they choose us?
  • And many more…
  • If you can’t afford or don’t want to employ an agency then you may well simply create a persona of your target audience using your knowledge of your customers and the conversations you’ve had with them. This can work very well.

2. Now the big one: Interviews

Remember above when we said that this process is easier for an outsider? Well this is one of the parts where that is especially true. We would now conduct structured, recorded brand interviews with between 10 and 30 people in and around the business – each lasting about half an hour.

These questions are extremely carefully designed to prompt honest and unconsidered but truthful responses that shed light on the current values and ethos of the business. They are designed to avoid the corporate dreams and waffle that are easy to fall into.

(we will happily share our list of questions with you so just ask).

This results in a LOT of hours of recorded conversations which we then listen to as we create the book.

Recap: What have we learned so far?

  • Our desk or paid market research has painted a picture of the market we operate in and where our prospective buyers’ needs match our offer.
  • We’ve uncovered our own precise service or product offer.
  • Our interviews have uncovered the real heart of the business: the true values and drivers of all involved.
  • We are ready to create our Company Brand Book

3. First draft of your company brand book

After a mind boggling amount of listening (20 interviews can easily generate 15 hours of recordings which must be listened to more than once!) we are ready to create the first draft.

4. Workshop 1

It is vital that a Company Brand Book is not imposed upon a company but developed with them throughout the process resulting in a book that feels authentic and natural and exciting for them.

A workshop with the business leaders is an important part of the process.

5. Rewrite the book

Providing we’re staying true to what we learned in our initial interviews and we’ve explained any challenges to the company feedback we have, then we’ll write the book in a way that feels just right for the business.

6. Finalize and agree

We should now be at a stage where we can all agree the Company Brand Book. The client will make final tweaks and adjustments.

7. Design, print and bind

Yes, ‘Print and Bind’. We say this deliberately – a brand book should be physically available and regularly referred to by anyone working on the business’s communication, HR and leadership.

‘The best thing we’ve ever done for our company’

We’ve heard this comment many times over the years in relation to the process of creating a company brand book. Why ? There are 4 key reasons.

  1. Suddenly everyone in the business knows clearly what the ethos of the business is – they know the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’.
  2. Everyone feels ‘heard’ – the interview process means each department and person has a chance to be part of a vital process for the future of the company
  3. Marketing decisions become easy and communications become consistent to create a brand that really resonates with their audience.
  4. Business leadership relaxes, knowing that marketing will be in line with their aims and objectives.

Your Company Brand Book

There’s no doubt that a company cannot really scale successfully without a Brand Book in place. We’ve never seen this be done effectively by an internal team or individual because an outsider’s objective view is much more useful and there is a good deal of skill involved. Talk to one of our team today about your Company Brand Book >

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