Treat your digital presence as your physical storefront and create a consistent online branding. While developing online branding may seem difficult at first, and creating a professional, high-quality presence may prove to be even a tougher task, it is achievable by following a few simple branding tips.
People are highly-visual and they naturally enjoy beautiful imagery and aesthetically-pleasing design. This is why creating a beautiful visual content that people will recognize and associate with your brand is not an easy task, yet a very important step in business development.
It is especially crucial to ensure the quality of the work, because brand development and website design is not something that’s changed frequently.
Save yourself some piece of mind and develop a consistent online branding the first time around for possibly higher price, than creating yourself an additional work and headache by constantly coming back to it. The branding needs to be solid for it to truly work.
Creating a visual representation before written content
Content is the king. We pretty much established that. Creating content, even with your full-time commitment is consuming.
You may, of course, publish ten articles a day for the first month of blogging and by the end of the month, you’ll have a few hundred articles. However, most of us don’t have that much time on hand and may want to take a slower, more granular approach.
What you can do right away to improve your social media presentation while building a written portfolio is your visual presentation – your website and your social media handles.
I’m no graphic designer myself, so I will share a few easy, effective steps to improving your social media presentation.
Aligning with your target audience
The first thing that needs to be considered is your target audience. What do these people share in common? What are their interests and hobbies? What’s their culture like? What would they find visually-appealing? A company offering services to retirees will have a completely different branding strategy than a startup that caters to 20-year-olds.
Do you want your brand to be perceived as young and free-spirited? Cool and hip? Elegant and timeless? Dependable and serious? These different personas can come through in the design language.
Young and free-spirited brand would want to use light and bright colors with unconventional fonts that remind of handwriting. Cool and hip brands would want toned-down colors with modern minimal fonts. Elegant and timeless brands might consider pastel colors in addition to colors from the basic palette with classic fonts. Finally, companies that want to show their high level of professionalism would lean towards simple palette of basic, timeless colors and traditional fonts.Download a Branding Guide
Creating a cohesive experience
Keep these things in mind when you’re creating new graphics for your website or social media presence.
You’ve worked on your owned media channels, ensuring branding on your website, your presentational materials and any others channels you have control over. But what about the channels you don’t fully own, like social media? Do you have a full control over your social media channel presentation? Of course, you do.
Yet, so many brands still treat social media as a separate identity that’s volatile and unmanageable. While it is true that there are lots of changes and updates that are happening on social channels almost every other day, this is not to say that you can’t maintain brand consistency across social channels.
Social media branding has to be consistent with overall strategy, to support and enhance it, creating a sense of truly thoughtful brand. So, how to extend your branding beyond your website?
Let’s see what you are accountable for.
Your basic presentation
Create cohesive experience for your customers, wherever they choose to connect with your brand. This includes your logos, cover photos, descriptions, contact info and so on.
Can a company ensure that all of these pieces are consistent across channels? You bet company employees can do that at a very minimum.
First and foremost, try to maintain a consistent imagery across all the platforms you’re presenting on. This goes for profile image and cover photo. Profile image is fairly easy – a nice photo of you or a logo of your brand. As to cover photo, spend some time figuring out what you really want your image to look like.
This is a little harder to ensure but still pretty attainable. If one person takes care of all digital copywriting needs, they will have the same voice across channels. What if there are two, three, four people that are working on different aspects of digital marketing, and what if they work on it remotely? Things just got more complicated, yet the solution is simple.
It’s called a branding guide. By creating one, and making sure everyone sticks to it, maintaining a consistent voice across channels just got much more manageable. Is your brand hip and innovative, or traditional and serious? How does your target audience talk? What language do they talk? What lingo, jargon or professional terminology do they use? Use that language to communicate with them.
I see it over and over again; and I’m not getting why. A company’s website looks modern and well-developed, and then we move to social channels and the same brand uses awful stock images. Could it be just laziness? I get that it is much easier to go online, type in a search term and download the first image that pops up.
People in suites against white background don’t work anymore. They are not representing professionalism anymore (did they ever?). If they do represent something, it’s carelessness to find a better-suiting, more unique image.
This is not to say that stock images are always bad. Some websites provide pretty amazing stock photos, so invest some time (and sometimes, a small fee) into improving your stock photo choices.
Once you master visual content development, think about the feel of the photos. You might want to consider choosing a few filters that you will use consistently. Filters are a great way to make an image pop and accent the mood. Do you want your images to be bright, pastel or somber?
Furthermore, create pictures that use your brand’s colors in them. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to incorporate your palette into some images, but spend some time on details and your branding will only improve, reinforcing a brand experience.
Also, it’s a great idea to place a logo on all of your customer communication materials consistently, using the same colors and layouts.
If your brand relies heavily on a specific look, font or logo, make sure to include it. If your brand colors are yellow and red, you can even find stock images with those primary colors. Or, if you’re familiar with Adobe products, you could probably add a pop of your brand colors or reinforce them in an image.
Do you have memorable fonts? Whenever you share a social update, spend 30 seconds to include a bit of text using that font on an image. That way, when people casually scroll through their news feeds, they will instantly recognize that this update is from your brand without even reading it first.
If you have a simple logo, include a tasteful watermark that won’t take away from an image as a whole.
Telling a story with visuals
Consider the fact that even without reading the actual “Coca-Cola,” you recognize their font, logo and colors. Without seeing the word “Starbucks,” you know that a dark green and a mermaid signify the coffee shop chain.
While your brand might not have such an extensive history, you can ensure the consistent use of colors and fonts and logos, so that your customers will be “accustomed” to recognizing the brand quickly.
You want your imagery to tell a story of your brand. Without any copy on it, the image itself should talk; the text should only amplify the message. Free People has developed a consistent style of imagery to a point where people mention the brand to describe a general type of boho-styled images.
Michael Kors is another company that championed their use of imagery. Their seemingly lifestyle photos feature Michael Kors products subtly, which is perceived more positively than overly promotional images.
The way your messaging is consumed
No, you can’t control what your audience is doing while they see your messages.
They could be scrolling through their friends’ updates to see what they are up to tonight and they couldn’t care less about you in that moment. Or maybe, they’re standing in the waiting line at a grocery store, and while your update took up the screen, their turn came and they just closed the app window completely.
Yet, what you can predict is what type of content they are looking for, what they’re in a mood for, what types of content is interesting to them at that particular moment in time. People go on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat for different things.
You wouldn’t want to put a huge block of text on Instagram or use hashtags on Facebook. It’s inappropriate. People go on Pinterest to find inspiration – so inspire them on Pinterest! People want to get some updates on Facebook – so update them there! People go to Twitter for bite-sized bits of information, so don’t overwhelm them there with a 5-part tweet.
See what’s happening? You can improve your chances of being seen and remembered by simply following the rules of different platforms. That being said, you absolutely should not change your branding from one platform to another. You have to find a way to be your different self, you have to put forth different sides of your cohesive personality.
So, if you know that people appreciate great, artsy, in-the-moment images on Instagram, give them just that. Be you; share a moment with your followers that they will relate to. Showcase on Pinterest what inspires you and your brand, what’s important to you – they’ll probably love it to!
So, invest a little time in overall branding and spend a little extra time making sure it shows through on social media as well.
While you can’t control some external factors and frequent network updates and changes, there are still lots of factors you can control to maintain brand consistency across social channels.
Make sure your positioning, messaging, and visuals stay consistent. Yet, don’t feel like you have to be the same on all networks; otherwise, following you on various platforms will get pretty boring pretty soon.
How do you create a consistent online branding? How do you extend your branding beyond your website? What details are the most important in your opinion? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.Download a Branding Guide