Have you ever considered writing a brand bible as a guide for your affiliates?
Whether for yourself or for a wider team, it’s a good idea to go through the process and really think about how you would handle any situation where your brand is misrepresented, should it arise.
A brand bible is essentially a set of rules for how partners can represent your brand, content about your products and services and guides marketing situations, like the creation of new graphics, content being written and more. It’s useful for many reasons to have a brand guide ready to share with new affiliates joining your affiliate program because it sets the tone for how they can promote your business and services online.
Understanding how your brand needs to be portrayed online is essential for your own team too.
So, what are these reasons for keeping an affiliate program brand bible, and where do you start?
It keeps your brand coherent
A brand bible can be pulled out in many different situations. For example, a house style will be required for any written content. It’s a tool amongst affiliates for each editorial or content piece they are writing or creating to represent your brand. Each affiliate type will use your brand bible for a different purpose. This, for example, can be applied to a blog , a review, a listicle, a video – essentially you want to make sure your affiliates understand how best to showcase your business and products to their audiences. A brand bible helps them to do that.
Your brand bible should dictate your customer demographic, core strap lines and messages partners can use, and preferred tone of voice to use when communicating to their audiences as a referring partner to your brand.
The brand guide helps you to outline what you are trying to do with your brand and then move on to how you intend to express that with your partners through their content.
It means anyone who is added to your team understands your brand
Say you’re an influencer and it’s just you and your webcam/travel photos/art studio, etc. Maybe eventually you might think about hiring an editor because it’s taking up too much time. On the other hand, maybe you’re a business outsourcing the digital marketing aspect and putting together a team of marketers: either way, you’re going to need a brand bible.
This is the way your new people understand your brand. They can pick it up and pick up the basics, but it’s more practical to put together a brand bible. That new editor can look up what editing decisions they are supposed to be making without waking you in the middle of the night, and bigger brands don’t need a back and forth with a new editor where they vaguely tell them to try it again.
Additionally, it means that partners can understand you in a nutshell. You don’t have to send them the entire bible, in fact, we would definitely not recommend that, but you can express to them the basics as you’ve established them: demographic, message, tone. Sum it up enough and you’ll have an elevator pitch that you can offer to affiliate programs and brands looking to make a sponsorship deal, etc.
It outlines grey areas – more clearly and helps prevent PR disasters
A brand bible is also very useful for you because it forces you to really think about how you want to portray yourself in any given situation and act accordingly. We recommend you experiment and find your content style before you start making dictating the details of your brand bible. Start with your core points (demographic, message, and tone), and stick to them, but you can get creative with how you intend to express those and refine your brand bible as you go. Maybe something isn’t working and isn’t getting the response you want, you can change it, see how it performs, and add it to the brand bible.
If you really want to get proactive – you can think about what steps you would take to avoid or handle a controversial action spotted by fans. It’s useful for a big brand to consult compliance officers, brand marketing teams and public relations departments to help you write up immediate steps so that no one gets hasty and makes an impulsive mistake.
What does a brand bible entail?
There are a lot of things that a brand bible covers, which you can consider to include in your own:
- Tone of voice
- Content language (grammar, omitted words, how you write names or numbers etc.)
- Subject overview (including any omitted topics)
- Editing language
- Brand colour palette and logo
- Photography style
- Imagery guidelines
- Practical graphic applications like letterheads and business cards
- Music use (original, copyrighted, or stock)
Setting out clear rules of engagement with your affiliate partners helps to keep your program compliant and content marketing cohesive. Now that the partner economy is expanding it’s important you set the boundaries that your partners perform to and best to do this at the start of their onboarding into your program – together.
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