In our day and age, it’s safe to say that there are a plethora of social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, and so on and so forth) that all brands can use to stay in touch with consumers and promote their products in creative and engaging ways. Most brands understand that surviving and staying relevant in today’s market is nearly impossible without maintaining a constant presence on all mediums, whether digital or physical. However, not all brands have been successful at leveraging the advantages that social media platforms offer, and not for a lack of trying. In this article, we will go through a few basic branding concepts and discuss what companies of all sizes can do to better brand their business in the current market environment. Here is how to maintain brand consistency across all mediums.
What is Brand Consistency?
Before delving deep into the subject of the article, let’s go briefly through a few basic concepts related to brand consistency:
- Brand Identity: A company’s brand identity describes a company’s mission, vision, logos, colors, practices, tone, and essentially everything that makes said company stand out from the others. Brand identity is, “all the constituent parts that form the character of the company,” and this can include visible, invisible, tangible or intangible elements.
- Brand Guidelines: This is the set of interior rules that establishes strict limits on how a company should use their assets — logo, colors, copy, and so on and so forth — for the purposes of portraying their brand. For instance, a brand guideline may specify that the logo should be used only in certain contexts, certain colors, or in a particular width. Brand guidelines are essential elements, the pillars, if you will, of brand consistency.
Going further with our point, brand consistency simply refers to how ‘’on-brand’’ your company’s marketing efforts are, meaning whether or not it respects the rules and guidelines that were established to maintain the brand’s identity in the first place.
A company is brand consistent when it ensures that everything that goes out of the company’s gate — whether we are talking about products, copy, documents, social media posts, and so on — adheres to the brand’s identity and guidelines.
We are aware that it sounds confusing — you are not the only one. Even big companies occasionally fail to stick to their own branding rules. The reasons are as varied as they can get, but brand inconsistencies usually arise when the personality of the individual or individuals handling the marketing aspects of the company outshine the specificities of the company’s brand. For example, some marketing materials can be more upbeat than required due to the person’s personality, or vice versa.
This finally brings us to the subject of the article: How can companies maintain brand consistency? Let us find out.
Understand Each Platform
And by this, we mean to understand the audience that populates each platform:
- Instagram: It’s is a highly visual platform and is especially popular among teens and millennials.
- Facebook: It’s the most established of the social media platforms. The average user spends about 20 minutes per day on the network. However, Facebook is slowly losing its young members in favor of other platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, so take this into consideration before building a marketing campaign here.
- Twitter: A popular medium for short and on-the-subject conversations, with its spikes in activity occurring during major events like elections and the Super Bowl. Twitter is the best platform for engaging in conversation directly with popular entertainers and companies.
- Pinterest: It’s more focused than other social platforms in the sense that it is used mainly for planning, with a particular focus on conducting research on DIY projects, travel, trends, homes and so on and so forth. Pinterest is the kind of place where internet users are actively looking for practical information, so brands have a great opportunity to leverage the platform and create targeted branding.
- Snapchat: This is currently the most rapidly growing social platform out of all. Unlike other social media portals, Snapchat harnesses the concept of immediacy like no other, as the nature of the platform encourages immediate communication and engagement. Snapchat is a great opportunity for companies to both market their products to a younger audience and maintain brand consistency.
Do Not Spread Too Thinly Across Social Media Platforms
Although there is a case to be made about focusing on as many social media platforms as possible, it is a better idea to excel in exploiting one social media platform than being mediocre on all of them. If you are new on the market and the brand is “fresh,” the best approach is to take it slowly and focus on a single social media platform.
Once you have grasped the basics of your chosen social media portal, you can move on to another one and concentrate on that. As we have mentioned previously, each social media platform has its own specificities and requires a unique approach to ensure maximum success. So, instead of biting off more than you can chew, take time to study each one to see what the audience expects.
Interlink Multiple Channels
Once you have figured out how to balance your social media presence across multiple channels, the next step is figuring out how to make your followers subscribe to your other platforms. A good approach is conducting a continuous awareness campaign – for example, when posting something on your Facebook page, let your followers know about your Twitter page, and vice-versa.
This tactic is advantageous for multiple reasons. First, this allows to increase the size of your following without needing to do too much extra work (and as a side note, less work means less staff to keep on your payroll, which is especially useful for newer brands). Secondly, this ensures that your followers see your brands several times in a short period of time, increasing the exposure and the ad revenue at the same time.
Last, but not least, by linking your multiple channels correctly, you will gradually achieve the status as an authority in your niche which, in turn, ensures brand consistency. By doing this, you will let both your followers and potential clients know that your brand is professional and on par with the times.
Share Curated Content
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for viral success – more often than not, it all comes down to algorithms working to your advantage. However, what you can do is increase your chances of achieving viral success by curating brand-specific content for the company’s social media pages. Consumers want (and expect) quality content that is relevant to their interest and, by extension, to your brand.
As cliche as this might sound, brands should strive to create an online environment that encourages conversations and interactions. This will give followers an additional incentive to respond positively to the posts, write comments and interact with them. This will happen as long as the content that you post (memes, pictures, videos, what have you) do not feel forced — they should make sense in the context of your brands. Outlining a specific tone and maintaining it will ensure brand consistency as well.
Be Careful With Visual Consistency
More often than not, followers will recognize a particular brand or company through visual means only. You want to achieve a point in which followers can recognize your brand instantly, either by glancing at an icon or reading the first two words of a description. Therefore, it is important to keep the same visual elements across all channels.
For example, if you are in the habit of posting an image with a song or book recommendation, or you frequently quote writers, then do the same across all social media platforms. Your objective here is to make your posts recognizable solely by their formats, and there is no other way to achieve it than by maintaining visual consistency.
Emotional Consistency is Also Important
Apart from being consistent from a formatting and visual perspective, your posts also have to maintain emotional consistency across all platforms. Admittedly, this is harder to pull off as the concept of “emotion” is less tangible than, say, a blog post. The approach here is to keep the emotions induced onto the follower unchanged as you switch from one social media platform to the next.
Keeping the same color palette across all posts is a great way to maintain emotional consistency. It is a well-known fact that colors increase brand recognition, so by using the same palette, you will increase the likelihood of followers, or potential followers, associating certain colors with your brand. Some relevant examples include Coca-Cola, a company which is famous for using red in their marketing campaigns, Sprite with their green shades, and Microsoft with their bright blues.
Consider the 5 Bigs of Branding Consistency
Brand consistency is a very complex process that follows a certain methodology, especially when it comes to social media. To ensure that your brand meets consistency standards, take into account the following factors:
- Posting Frequency: On social media, this can make the difference between gaining a big following or falling into the depths of internet obscurity. Your rise on a social media platform, whether we are talking about Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, can suddenly turn into a decline if the posting frequency is poor. Make sure to establish a rhythm (for example, three posts per day, in the morning, afternoon and evening) and stick with it. If you decide to change your social frequency, do not do so before consulting the relevant metrics.
- Watermarks: This is an essential element of brand consistency, both on digital and physical platforms. Make sure to include a watermark on any images that you post, as followers will immediately recognize the images as being yours. Furthermore, it reduces the risk of people stealing your images.
- Identity: Speaking of images, make sure they are unique, and avoid using stock images as much as possible. For marketing campaigns, it is always recommended you shoot your own images for two reasons: First, followers will identify the images with your brand and second, you can build a visual marketing style that is unique to your company alone.
- Reliability: The name of the company should be the same everywhere — do not use nicknames and slang terms. There is a reason why Advertising Age shied away from switching to Ad Age for such a long time — do it only if it makes sense in the context of your marketing campaigns.
Striking and maintaining brand consistency, especially in an era characterized by intense interconnectivity, is a good way to stand out in an already oversaturated market. By implementing the strategies presented here, you can be sure that your brand will be consistent across all mediums and maintain the loyalty and appreciation of your followers.