Everybody knows what templates are, something that can be used as a pattern for future items. When talking about your brand, this sounds very useful and helpful in speeding up the process of future work. Unfortunately, the word template seems to have a slightly negative connotation in the brand and design world. Fortunately, though, we can get rid of that negative connotation by explaining how much better it is for you to use templates in your brand.
In this article, I am going to offer the business English definitions of templates offered by the Cambridge dictionary…
[A] method or system that can be copied and used by others.
IT. A particular model for arranging information or images in a document, etc. that you can copy and use for your own purposes.
Production. A design or pattern made of metal, plastic, or paper that is used for making copies of a shape or to help cut material accurately.
Let’s add one more definition here linking to production, but keeping it digital…
4. Production. A design or pattern made in a digital file that is used to make other files appear the same way.
TYPES OF TEMPLATES
The first thing to note here, before I split it into two different categories, is that templates can vary. They can be as complicated as forms where only the checkboxes change to an outline stating what goes where.
Content can include posts, articles, emails, social media posts, and more. Here are some quick examples of content templates that can help speed up your entire business process…
Posts and article templates can outline a specific length, a number of paragraphs, the flow of information, or all end the same way.
Basic email templates can consist of signatures or away-from-desk messages.
More advanced email templates can include generic responses to clients or making sure emails are worded the same way.
Social media content templates can include the specific length, hashtag location, hook location, and different options for CTAs.
Technically, any content that you create multiple times, can have a template. Videos, podcasts, reels, Lives, etc. And they can all be different depending on the platform they are meant for. For example, Instagram captions have a strict character count, while Facebook posts can be longer. You can use the same template for both, or create a new one.
In addition, I’ve written an article previously about The importance of style guides for your brand. In that article, I talk about content, design, and brand guides. Because having a styling guide can help you with the type of language used on all of your content and create a general template for pretty much anything.
Since I already mentioned it earlier, I will first refer back to the same style guide article as earlier. These style guides are the basis of your templates, both for content and design. Outside of that, though, your design templates can include business collaterals, social media posts, lead magnets or freebies, downloadable products, videos, and more. Here are some quick examples of design templates that can help you out…
The easiest example of a useful design template is a business card for a company, by making sure all employees’ cards look the same.
Same thing with any other business collaterals such as white papers, letterheads, and internal documents.
Most social media posts come with some type of graphic to draw attention and keeping all of those graphics in multiple template styles will ensure that all of your posts link back to one another.
Lead magnets are an easy way to get closer to your audience, and you can create a design template to make the process of creating these faster.
Same thing we downloadable products, by ensuring they are all the same size, your name and contact information are always in the same place, etc.
A template can be very useful if you want all of your videos to have the same entrance and exit graphics, transitions, flow, subtitle or text effects, sounds, and more.
As with content, any design work that you or your designer do can have a template. Videos, podcasts, reels, Lives, etc. Basically, all of the same stuff as content. They can be different depending on your platform, and you can even have one template that includes both design and content guidelines, or multiple templates for each design and content and then mix and match in between.
THE BENEFITS OF USING TEMPLATES
Templates are the easiest way to ensure that everything you create follows your brand and style guidelines and keeps you consistent. Remember, the easiest way to make yourself memorable to your audience is to have some sort of repetition. Using templates can really help you out with this without thinking about it too much. In addition to that, here are some other quick benefits to using templates in your brand…
It is so much faster to copy and edit a file than to start a new one every single time. Additionally, the entire process is also much faster when you hand it over to a new person to work on. This also means that you don’t need any special skills. If you have access to the software used to create your template, you can make future changes or copies yourself where you only change the text and images.
As weird as this may sound, templates can help you better understand your own products. Think of carousels selling your services or products; templates make sure that you hold every one of them to the same standards. This can also lead you to generate ideas and additional content! If you have a specific flow for a podcast episode with set headings, you can use those headings to help you come up with additional content for that episode.
Consistency! I know I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating. Consistency is extremely important when creating anything that will represent your brand. It can be especially hard to keep track of brand identities and style consistencies when you have multiple people working on your documents. Templates can make the entire process of following guidelines much easier for both a team and yourself.
And my favourite benefit is safety! Sounds weird, but consider your contracts. Let’s say you have a five-page contract you give to all of your new clients. Instead of writing it new every single time, you can create a template that highlights only the parts that will change for new clients, while keeping all of the other legalities the same and therefore, keeping you and your bank account safe.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN TEMPLATES
I am going to share two different ways to create templates for your brand. For all of these, I suggest first organizing different content and design creation by platform or touchpoint (touchpoint is the content, design, post, video, etc. that belongs to your brand and your audience interacts with).
Create your file, content, design, or whatever piece you are going to share with your audience, and then save your file. The next time you create the same type of content, copy that file and rename it, then re-write over it and make only minor changes to the design, keeping the general idea the same.
Draw up a blank version with textual descriptions of what will go where. For example, a lead magnet design document saying that page one will be the title, page two introduction to you, page three introduction to lead magnet, etc. Another simple example for this is a caption template, where you say where your hook, problem, CTA, etc. will go and the length for each of them to ensure you meet character counters.
Note. Remember to copy and paste your documents or content. Never edit or write over another document, as I am pretty sure you will want to go back and take a look at the original at some point.
In addition, I want to clarify one thing! Don’t waste your time creating a template for a file that will only have one-off use.
OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO NOTE
INTERNAL INVENTORY OF DOCUMENTS
All businesses will have an inventory of stock they sell to customers and some even have an internal inventory to keep track of items within the office. An inventory of your documents can be very useful too. In the case of templates, this inventory can help you keep track of your templates and make sure that all documents are following the correct templates.
PERSONAL STOCK LIBRARY
I’ve written an article regarding Using stock photos for your brand. If you have decided to stock up on your photos (pun intended) then keep track of them either as part of your inventory or a library. Keep your photos organized by style, subject, or product, and you can include in your templates what type of photo to be used where.