Staying on brand. A phrase you’ve probably heard a lot lately. Maybe it’s from your 18-year-old cousin talking about her Instagram aesthetic. Maybe it’s your boss talking about it in a this-could’ve-been-sent-in-an-email work meeting. Regardless of context, it turns out that maintaining a consistent brand across all of your social media profiles actually is important, for both business and personal (if you’re into that sort of thing).
One cannot simply maintain brand consistency without defining exactly what brand consistency actually is. Starting off broad, branding falls under marketing as a whole. According to the ~Dictionary~, branding is the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. Designs can be anything from logos to slogans to the actual names of individuals or companies. Essentially branding is putting a metaphorical face to the product or service being sold in order to form a relationship with consumers.
Moving on to the consistency element of branding. Consistency is key to just about anything you do in life, branding in particular. It comes down to brand recognition. The more consumers see your brand and associate it back to your product or service, the higher the increase in profit (at least that’s the idea).
Brand consistency on social media goes far beyond handles and profile pictures. Yes, those are very important elements to brand success, but they aren’t everything. Brands should also be consistent when it comes to tone, voice and even emoji and hashtag usage (welcome to 2017). Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love James Corden on Twitter, retweeting his request for Gucci Mane to follow him is NOT ON BRAND. Unless, of course, your brand doesn’t shy away from humor and celebrity gossip.
When it comes to visual-heavy social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, etc. even maintaining a color scheme or photography style is of the utmost importance. Some brands will even go as far as leaving a watermark or signature on their images. Sometimes this can take away from the content itself, but if your main concern is getting credit for reuse it is definitely an option to consider.
By now you may be thinking to yourself, what does branding matter if I’ll never achieve mainstream success like Nike or Chance the Rapper? Well first off, never say never. Second, it doesn’t matter if it’s your dog’s Instagram or General Motor’s. Branding matters, and it’s no longer just for the big players. The coolest thing about social media and social media marketing is that for the most part it is virtually free and something that everyone can take part in.
While you may never reach Ellen Degeneres’ follower count, big brands are an excellent reference point for what it takes to maintain a consistent brand. Let’s take Nike for example. With a combined 79 million followers on Twitter and Instagram and 28,273,147 likes on Facebook, it is safe to say that Nike knows a little something about maintaining brand consistency on social media. We won’t even get into the millions of followers they have amassed on their tributary accounts like @NikeBasketball and @nikestore. From the header image to bio to hashtag use to that signature swoosh, there is no question that these accounts belong to the Nike Corporation and align with their overall mission. So while the person being paid to execute Nike’s social media strategy may love James Corden, he/she will not be retweeting him.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a successfully branded social media profile (probably). Here’s what Marketing Supply Co. recommends to start building, or rebuilding:
1. Decide which platforms you want to exist on. Is having a presence on SnapChat really necessary for your architecture firm? Maybe, if you are trying to show that your brand has personality, but maybe not. If you are on too many platforms that don’t necessarily align with your brand, you will likely struggle to post consistent and quality content.
2. Develop a branding strategy that will stand the test of time. This should include a style guide laying out your distinct design, tone, and voice as well as any other guidelines you deem necessary.
3. Create quality content. Whether it’s images, graphics, blog posts, etc. It is important to have sustenance. Especially if you want people to click through and stay on your site. While your content should stay true to your brand, it is also important to be connected to the real world and current events. Help your audience and consumers form an emotional connection to your content.
4. Consistency. Need we even say more? Probably not, but we will. Posting one fire tweet and then not tweeting again for three weeks is not the way to develop or maintain a brand. Content needs to be uploaded consistently so your consumers can be reminded that you exist. This is where having an entire team dedicated to content creation becomes important. Writer’s block is real, even if it’s 140 characters or less.
In short, branding matters and staying on brand matters more. Whether you’re Kim Kardashian West or Delta Airlines, find what works well for you and roll with it. With quality and consistency, your followers will surely come out of the woodworks. And if they don’t, at least you know you’re on brand, right?