How to Create Brand Guidelines For Your Affiliates

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Have you ever tried to build something without the instructions? Imagine the thousand little screws and bolts that come with a piece of Ikea furniture and having no idea where you’re supposed to put them and the end result is a half-slapped-together mess with parts leftover that seem important.

While winging it can sometimes lead to success, it’s always better to have a detailed list of instructions to follow and that’s as true of your affiliates as it is of your flat-pack furniture. 

How can you expect them to be successful if you don’t guide them in the right direction? Don’t make your affiliates guess how they’re supposed to represent your brand. Instead, start them off with clear directions so they can prop up your business and deliver those crucial sales. 

Previously, we talked about how important it is to set up a proper onboarding process for your affiliate partners. Getting your affiliates all the tools they need will help them get started efficiently and effectively.

But one of the most important tools in the onboarding process are your brand guidelines. Think of a brand guideline as the blueprint for who you are and how you expect your customers to understand you. It will establish for your affiliates the tone, language and attitude that they should use to represent your brand. It will also establish important marketing points to highlight as well as sensitive issues you want your affiliates to avoid. 

For example, you might want your affiliates to say that your product is affordable or consumer conscious, rather than cheap. One paints your brand as inferior while the other creates the message that you are providing value for your buyers. 

Your guidelines should create a consistent message across all of your affiliate partners. 

One of the most important parts of any business is consistency. For instance, Arizona tea continues to sell its products at 99 cents a can even with inflation because they’ve remained consistent in wanting to be an affordable alternative to popular sodas.

Likewise, your brand guidelines should give your partners a single consistent message about your brand to communicate. To do so, make sure your guidelines are as detailed as possible and that all of your affiliates are presenting your products with the same voice, tone and language.  

For example, you want your guidelines to contain key phrases that your affiliates can use. A furniture brand might want to emphasize “affordable luxury” style products. Meanwhile, tech companies would highlight the “latest design” or “cutting edge” innovation. What key phrases do you want to associate with your company? What about values? Creating your brand narrative will go a long way to helping your affiliates understand your identity.

Your logo should be recognizable and consistent across all of your materials.

It may not be much of a shocker to learn that a good portion of your audience is visual learners. In fact, 75% reported that they recognize brands simply by their logo. That means that you don’t want your affiliates to get “creative” with your logo or alter it in any way that’s inconsistent with your design. 

An underappreciated but important part of your guidelines needs to directly address the size, colors and other design aspects of your logo and make sure that your affiliates don’t change them in any way.

Visual cues are essential to the identity of your brand. Think of Coke’s iconic red can or the Nike swoosh. Creating a consistent visual identity means making sure that your affiliates know that your logo, color scheme and other key visual elements are not to be messed with.

Comply with regulations and rules. 

An important note that your guidelines should establish is that not all of the rules and regulations are your own. In fact, affiliates must comply with the FTC regulations that govern your brand, some of which are universal and some of which are specific to different verticals.

For instance, the FTC requires that language used in marketing should be easy to understand for the common person and that your marketing materials, especially if they make a claim, should contain a disclosure in readable and close proximity.

On websites, you may need to use repetition to repeat the disclosure as necessary. These are just a few of the FTC regulations you may want to use in your guidelines. The most important thing is to make sure your guidelines contain all the necessary information so neither your brand nor affiliates get in trouble with the government.

Partnering with affiliates is often the beginning of a beautiful friendship as they say. But creating consistent and informative guidelines will more than help you in the long run. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to take a sectional back to IKEA.

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