This article is a how to guide with 5 steps to creating a company branded template and also includes a downloadable template of a client facing document.
There is a lot of thought and effort that goes into developing a company’s brand. Throughout all branding elements, it is important to maintain consistency in order to build trust through recognition, provide dependability, and also maintain marketing advantages.
This article focuses on one of the tools that can be used for maintaining consistent brand visuals: company branded templates. These branded templates can then be used by employees when they need to create a document for the company or for a client. Without these templates in place, along with standards on how the branding should be applied within the document, it is likely that employees will create documents that suit them and their style as they won’t have set guidelines to follow. While there is value in allowing a certain amount of creative freedom, it is also important to maintain brand consistency, or the brand could be at risk as a result.
Here are 5 Steps to Creating a Company Branded Template:
1. Determine the Purpose of the Template
To be able to start your template, the first step involves establishing the purpose of the template. What sort of document will this template be used for? It is important to decide what the purpose of the template is, as this will decide what information to include and what elements to add.
Some examples of templates could include:
- Company letterhead
- Header + footer to be used for client facing documents
- Header + footer to be used for internal documents
- Purchase order Form
- Employee expense form
2. Decide what Information and Brand Elements Need to be Included in the Template
Now that there is a clear purpose for the template being created, it’s time to decide the information that needs to be included, as well as the brand elements you would like within the template. When considering the different visual brand elements to incorporate, it is important to keep in mind that maintaining brand consistency is key for a strong and recognizable brand.
Here are examples of information and elements that may need to be included:
- Company logo
- Document title
- Revision date
- Page #s
3. Create the Header
Now that you know the brand elements to incorporate and the information to include, you can begin creating the document. We recommend starting with the Header of the document, which is the top portion of the template that will appear on every page before the body of the document begins. Keep in mind it is important that the brand elements used within the template follow the company’s brand guidelines in order to maintain consistency. Did we mention consistency is key for branding yet?
The single item we recommend using in the Header of a template is the company logo. By placing the logo exclusively in the Header, it will stand out and no other elements will be competing for the reader’s attention. It is best to use the full company logo with the company name included (typeface), rather than just the symbol of the logo. The primary logo is best to use in the Header, especially for templates that will be client facing as the primary logo is the most recognizable. Our advice is to place the company logo in the top right or the top left corner of the Header, however, it could also be placed in the centre of the Header if that is most visually appealing for the logo.
4. Create the Footer
Once the Header has been decided, we recommend moving on to the Footer of the document template. The Footer is the bottom portion of the template that will show on every page of the document after the body of the documents ends. Please note that the size of the Header and Footer can both be changed depending on the margins you would like left for the body of the document. The size of the margins decides the boundaries of where the text or images can be within the page of the document. We suggest putting the required information in the Footer, or the body of the document rather than the Header.
These are some of the brand elements we recommend for the Footer:
- Some sort of visual divider which signals to readers that it is the end of the page and that any information below is not part of the body of the content. This could be a simple line, or coloured shading (with one of the approved brand colours, of course!)
- Secondary logo – This can be used to have more brand elements included in the template and is a good place to show any secondary logos the company’s brand may use. We recommend placing this in the bottom corner, opposite of the primary logo placed in the Header.
Here is some of the information we recommend having in the Footer:
- Page #s – traditionally in the bottom right corner
- Date – only include if wanted on the bottom of every page (if wanted only on the first page, include in the body of the content on the first page)
- Revision date – if this is important for the document type (i.e. a policy or guideline)
- Copyright – important for certain client facing documents
5. Build the Body
Once the Header and Footer have been created, the final part of creating a template is adding information to the body of the document where the content will be typed. It is also useful to create guidelines for creating the documents which explain the formatting and brand elements such as fonts and colours to use. A great way to explain the branding guidelines to use within document creation is including them in the brand guidelines of the company.
Information we recommend including in the body of the document template:
- Document title
- Date – if not in the Footer
- Name – if the person’s name is required for the document
Brand guidelines we recommend explaining for document creation:
- Document title font – font, font style (bold, italics, underline, regular), font size
- Document body content font – font, font style (bold, italics, underline, regular), font size
- Any extra notes on the application of branding within the document. This could include secondary brand colours that can be used, fonts for section titles within the document, etc.
Templates – Tools for Success!
Having easily accessible templates that are intuitive to use provide one more tool in the toolbox for brand management within the company! The above steps will help in creating company branded templates that allow employees to stay on-brand when creating documents. With clear intentions of what the document template is meant for, the design elements and information included in the header, footer, and body to fulfill the purpose of the document, and some guidelines to help with staying on-brand, the template will become a valuable tool for document creation within the company. A great question to reflect on after reading this article is “What templates could add value to our company’s brand management?”
Here is a template that can be used to start creating a client facing company branded document.