By Connie Howard, ETMG VP & Founding Writer
Any template is a guide. A paper stencil of leaves to help paint a border on a wall is a template; so is a business letter sample format. In both cases, these templates allow their users the freedom to create within a defined and protected set of boundaries.
A marketing collateral template, for programs like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Microsoft Word, or PowerPoint, does the same thing. It defines the elements needed for each type of collateral. Companies define a visual identity, including a hierarchy that signals the type of information at each point in the piece.
Frequently, marketing organizations also create marketing collateral templates for writers that define audiences and what those audiences need to know. Often, one template supports both writers and designers, or two templates are designed to work together. These templates not only define what needs to be in the documents; they also protect critical information and visual elements from omission or alteration.
Marketing collateral templates enforce the uniform expression of brand elements across all kinds of collateral.
Using a predefined marketing collateral template helps both writers and designers work more efficiently and consistently. From the writer’s perspective, the template automatically outlines the information needed for the piece, what new information he or she needs to find, and what already exists and can be repurposed.
Likewise, designers can quickly flow copy into a well-designed marketing collateral template, using predefined tags that immediately distinguish the visual hierarchy, and the company’s brand identity. They don’t have to create each deliverable, with new visual elements, from scratch. Templates save time and money.
Here are some examples of the kinds of information elements that marketing collateral templates help to define and protect:
- Titles, headlines, and captions
- Body copy, the substance of the piece
- Additional information types, including lists, illustrations, tables, and sidebars
- Form-specific information: white papers, case studies, success stories, data sheets, application notes, web content, and FAQs, for example
- Notes, footnotes, bibliography, and other citation types
- Headers, footers, and pagination
Below are examples of the types of visual elements that marketing collateral templates help to define and protect:
- Page layout: one column versus two, landscape orientation versus portrait, side bar, and pull quote treatments too
- Other important inset elements like icons, diagrams and infographic treatments
- Typography, including margins, justification, font types and font characteristics like size, color, style and spacing
- Color palette, specifying exact hues, tones, shades, and tints of the colors used in logos, fonts, images and graphical elements, normally called out with color codes. (Palette is usually something already established in a brand guide, but templates enforce the correct use of the approved brand color palette in layout)
- Image usage and placement: the placement and alignment of images in relation to text. Often grids or guidelines control this placement
- Important corporate brand and legal assets including logo, copyright, and company boiler plate usage (including links to social media channels) so that before you flow in a word of copy, your templates can already be set up with these correct brand elements
If you invest the time defining what your templates should do, you’ll give both writers and designers a powerful tool. Template types give writers instant direction about what needs to be written, and designers fast and easy ways to make pieces look great while preserving company and brand identity.