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New Year, New You: Creating And Communicating Brand Guidelines For Affiliates


Ruthie Carey

The New Year is a great time to refresh your brand guidelines and help your affiliates stay on track for the next 12 months. A lot has probably changed for your company in the past year — new products, new staff and more. As you prepare for the first quarter of the year, this is an ideal time to update your marketing approach.

Building a successful, trusted brand takes significant effort. You have invested in product development, branding, employee training and online marketing. To avoid creating confusion, encourage your affiliates and brand ambassadors to follow your brand guidelines.

Setting up brand requirements is vital when working with affiliates. After all, some affiliates are probably working with multiple brands and different offers. Affiliates may accidentally apply another company’s requirements when promoting your products.

To develop comprehensive brand guidelines, you may need to engage other people to help you. To win the support you need to create comprehensive brand guidelines, keep these reasons in mind.

  1. Speed up onboarding:

Your goals might include onboarding 1,000 affiliates this year. In that case, you need a streamlined process to guide your growth. For example, you may have a goal to onboard 1,000 affiliates this year. To achieve this goal, consider implementing a consistent process to guide that growth. One way to start is by giving your affiliates a copy of your brand guidelines when they first sign up. This will help provide them with answers to immediate questions, and allow your team to onboard them much more quickly.

2. Reduce (or eliminate) regulatory problems.

Less experienced affiliates might attempt to push the envelope in terms of promotion — and potentially run afoul of FTC restrictions in the process. Avoid assuming that affiliates know the importance of FTC expectations. Instead, develop brand guidelines that reflect both your goals and FTC requirements. Ultimately, a lack of brand guidelines means more inconsistent affiliate activity and a greater chance that your company and affiliates might end up being investigated, fined or suffer negative publicity for breaking the rules on products.

3. Enhance your brand consistency.

Think of the world’s most iconic brands, like Pepsi. They have communicated a consistent brand for a long time that has made them memorable. Setting up brand requirements means affiliates are more likely to represent your brand in the same way, as well as boost your consumer’s brand awareness.

Every company will have its own approach to developing brand rules. It is crucial to develop brand expectations that reflect your specific situation. To speed up the process, consider the following topics.


Brand guidelines are ultimately a tool to help your company achieve its goals. Start with traditional goals like profits and revenue, but don’t stop there. You might also aim to improve customer satisfaction scores or achieve a higher net promoter score. If you are focused on developing loyal long-term customers, your brand expectations will need to reflect that goal.

Legal and regulatory considerations:

Take some time to review the requirements your affiliates must follow. For example, the FTC has specific restrictions on advertising supplements that may be relevant to your company.

Past experiences:

Reflecting on your company’s history with affiliates can be helpful. Specifically, look at the questions you are repeatedly asked. When affiliates reference your brand inconsistently, you may be able to address that problem with better brand rules. If your company has faced legal or regulatory difficulties relating to affiliate promotions or marketing, reflect on those experiences.

Size and complexity of affiliate program:

Generally speaking, a company with many affiliates will need to spend more time developing comprehensive brand rules.

At [brand name], we use the following brand guidelines to represent all of our wellness products.

  • Values first: Please read our corporate values document.
  • FTC compliant: We take our obligations to follow the letter and spirit of the law seriously.
  • Inclusive: We encourage brand affiliates to adopt an inclusive approach in their marketing materials.
  • Responsive: When we get a question or complaint about the brand from a customer or potential customer, we respond promptly and courteously. We encourage affiliates to take the same approach.
  • Brand assets: We ask all affiliates to use consistent brand assets such as the following images and font styles.
  • Brand guideline support: Not sure if your marketing plans align with our brand rules? Click here to send an email to us.
  • Brand guideline reviews: We periodically review our affiliates’ websites and social media accounts to verify everyone is following our brand guidelines. If there is a problem, we’ll share feedback with you.

Communication is essential, whether you are launching your brand rules with affiliates for the first time or sharing an annual update. In your communication to affiliates, there are two principles to keep in mind:

Use multiple media and formats:

Give your affiliates plenty of resources to keep them engaged in your affiliate program. For instance, try using several formats like posting an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on your website, creating a video, and updating your onboarding package for new affiliates. Sending a reminder message to your affiliates annually is a good way to keep everyone on the same page.

Market your brand guidelines:

Your affiliates are busy people, and they may not understand why it is essential to follow your brand requirements. In your communication, emphasize why following these brand requirements matters for affiliates. For example, you might point out that your top affiliates consistently follow all brand rules. This sends the message that affiliates are more likely to be successful when they follow your expectations.

There are several ways you can follow up with affiliates to make sure they understand your brand guidelines.

Conversations with affiliates:

When you have calls or webinars with your affiliates, adding occasional reminders about your brand requirements can help.

Update your brand guidelines annually:

As your company changes, your brand guidelines will need to evolve as well. Remember to let your affiliates know about it whenever you make a significant change to your brand requirements.

Brand guideline reviews:

Despite your best efforts, some affiliates may ignore your brand expectations. You can make this type of problem less likely by carrying out periodic reviews. For example, if you have 500 active affiliates, consider auditing one affiliate at random per week. If you find affiliates are not following your brand rules, send them a warning message with specific steps to help them become compliant.

The first steps to a strong brand strategy are simple.

Review your affiliate communications:

Has it been more than a year since you last contacted affiliates about your brand guidelines? If so, sending them a reminder is a great place to get started.

Review a few affiliate websites and social media accounts:

Carry out several brand guideline reviews to verify that your affiliates are following your expectations. This review will help you congratulate affiliates that are doing great work and provide feedback to others as needed.

There is no doubt that managing your affiliates and ensuring brand guidelines are followed requires a significant amount of time.

With new promotions to offer, questions to answer, and metrics to report on, merchants need an affiliate management program they can count on for support.

Refersion’s technology allows busy retailers to automate and streamline their affiliate management, ultimately leaving them more time to handle their priorities.

To simplify your affiliate management efforts and start building a stronger brand today, sign up for Refersion’s free 14-day trial.

Our platform is primed to handle the needs of your business and affiliates, so you can focus on making the most out of this New Year.

Special thanks to our friends at Refersion for their insights on this topic.
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