Raitis Velps is a local of the Baltic region with a global presence in the branding industry. He currently works as the Chief Marketing Officer at Corebook, a digital brand guidelines platform, where he helps plan, implement and manage its marketing strategies.
68% of companies claimed that brand consistency has increased their revenue from 10% to more than 20%, Marq reports.
Enter brand guidelines — the standard organizations use to maintain brand consistency across all platforms to ensure consistent messaging, visuals and tone of voice, among other branding elements.
Unfortunately, 70% of these companies don’t have their branding all figured out. It explains why 47% create off-brand content that can undermine their trustworthiness.
Corebook Chief Marketing Officer Raitis Velps spoke to DesignRush to address the common challenges businesses make when creating brand guidelines and also discuss the need for moving the PDF guideline into a digital form.
Spotlight: Research by Edelman reveals that 81% of consumers need to trust brands before considering a purchase. What are the elements that make a brand trustworthy?
Raitis Velps: There is no single element that will create trust for the brand. No logo, color choice or tone of voice can create trust in itself. It is a combination of a lot of factors. Yes, it does start with how you are presenting yourself to the potential target audience. If your social media content is sloppy or your website has more bugs than you can count, then of course it will not create trust. So, you have to be critical about everything your brand publishes.
When you are done with basics and feel like you have done a great job with your brand representation, then it is time to add the most important factor — how do you treat your clients? What does your customer support look and feel like? Do people leave satisfied or they are still riddled with questions, or do they feel like they were not important enough in the first place? The communication tone of voice, style and willingness to serve your audience on your website, in your emails, in your chats and on social media are keys to building a trustworthy brand.
Now that we have established what is needed for prospective clients to gain early trust we get into the core of building trust — what happens when a sale is done? Do you still serve your customers with total brilliance or do you de-prioritize them, now that they are paying customers? Your decision here will determine if you build a brand that can be trusted and have those baby steps in building brand loyalty or if you are going to have a hand full of churned and disappointed clients that will never trust your brand with their purchase decision ever again.
What are the most common mistakes brands make when creating their brand guidelines?
There is no single way a brand could make a mistake in creating its brand guidelines. Having brand guidelines is always better than not having anything at all. But the mistake is thinking that brand guidelines will not evolve as time goes on. It doesn't even have to be a full rebranding exercise or refresh. Brand guidelines, as time goes on, will grow with more content and more resources. That is why starting online brand guidelines is a brilliant idea, even if at the moment it only includes brand fundamentals. It will evolve and grow in size eventually.
From a more practical point of view not providing context for assets can be like telling someone a story without a punchline. Cool story, but what is the point, right? By providing context it can help teams to understand why certain elements and assets are used the way they are. Brand guidelines are not a rulebook but more of a brand portal of multi-sensory experiences that guide us and tell a contextual story.
Most businesses use PDFs to create their brand guidelines. What are the limitations of this approach and why should brands invest in digital brand guidelines?
The majority of PDF brand guidelines are actually never used in real life. They either sit on someone's laptop or somewhere on the cloud for them to never see the light of day. But even when they are actually used, we stumble upon a fresh batch of issues.
Let's start with one of the biggest — versioning. Brand guidelines nowadays are living and breathing documents that experience a lot of updates and versions in their lifetime. Dealing with different versions of brand guidelines can create tremendous friction and reduce efficient brand guidelines usage. Even if we manage to keep track of all of the versions floating around, it then raises the question of how we share brand guidelines with our team and external partners. How secure is it? Can we trust that someone will not leak them online? PDF brand guidelines are a total privacy nightmare.
On top of that, of course, are the mediums and asset types that brands want to make use of today. It's no more just about pretty photography and typography. We live in a fast-paced digital age where things like short-form video content have completely taken over. Not even mentioning that brands would want to use motion, video, audio and interactive assets for their marketing channels. These asset types are not supported in the static version, so we have to take a look at a new format, online brand guidelines, that can host all of that. And even include direct access to downloadable content, so brands can forget about going through folders and folders on their cloud storage to look for that one relevant asset mentioned on page 64 of their static brand guidelines.
Corebook is an online brand guidelines platform helping businesses digitize their brand kit. What’s the inspiration behind it and what does it aim to solve?
The idea came when founders were working in design agencies and they noticed that the majority of their deliverables were not actually put to real-life use. Just sitting in a nice folder on someone's MacBook. That was a huge waste of resources for everybody included. It also meant that brand guidelines weren’t fulfilling its purpose of maintaining consistency and collaboration across teams in this fast-paced 15-sec world.
At the same time, design and branding were starting to play even bigger roles and being more important than ever. Brands were posting Chief Design Officer or Chief Brand Officer roles to make sure that their brand has its guardian. So a lot of brands were trying to build their brand, but they were not efficient in format; they chose to be the core hub of it.
So, Corebook aims to solve this. By bringing together and nudging teams to collaborate and keep their brand consistent and their brand guidelines actually in use with up-to-date modular branding systems.
Please introduce us to your recently launched extension, Core Studio°
Core Studio° is an extension of Corebook where creative agencies and studios can prototype online brand guidelines and hand off deliverables. Unifying the project experience with the team and the client. From creating mood boards, writing down insights and live notes from workshops to delivering asset changes while designing and delivering the final identity and strategy. With Core Studio°, creatives can collaborate with a team to create an unlimited number of brand projects, toolkits, pitches, proposals and share them with ease to partners.
On top of that, we have developed mindful core features that can really make the difference between how and what kind of brand guidelines creatives can build while reducing repetitive tasks.
Opel, Martini and Mozilla are some of your clients. What makes Corebook a top choice for such big brands and how do they leverage the platform?
Corebook allows them to keep their brand guidelines consistent and always up-to-date with their internal team and their external partners. Leveraging Corebook advanced sharing and privacy features, they can rest assured that their brand guidelines will always be accessible from any device, any location and all of their up-to-date core assets will be there for them to grab and work on.
Having brand guidelines living in the same environment as the brand assets is critical for more efficient and better brand management, where we can forget about context change and not waste valuable time just trying to find relevance or that one asset that is mentioned on page 99. Everything is available at their fingertips with the right context at a glance. Also having a nice link for brand guidelines doesn't hurt.
Keeping everyone on the team on the same page is key to having consistency for the brand. Especially now when we have so many creative mediums. It can get chaotic really fast. Corebook gives that peace of mind to the brand as it can add any content or integration from tools such as Figma, Miro and Sketch in a matter of minutes and everyone on the team will be able to get the latest context. Brand guidelines should not be static anymore — they are living and breathing experiences that get updated frequently.
You are on a mission to make PDF brand guidelines extinct by 2025. What initiatives are you taking to achieve your goal?
Not only by creating products that can really transform how brands approach their brand guidelines, but we also have great initiatives and programs that support non-profit organizations, NGOs and up-and-coming creatives where they can create their online brand guidelines with an up-to-date format.
We are also looking to expand more into the education space. As a fellow academic, I wanted to make sure that students and lecturers can use up-to-date approach and format.
But #BRAND2025 is not only about non-profits and education spaces — it's a mindset and mission that it's time to ditch formats from the 90s and get on with the new generation format. We celebrate all brands that contribute and pop non-alcoholic champagne each time.
Thank you for your time, Raitis Velps. Best of luck to you and Corebook!