Branding in the age of social media . . .
Brands are what people say about you when you’re not in the room, but that room has become bigger in the digital space and social media. So, how do we build brands now? When it comes to delivering your brand to an online audience, the principles of branding offline still apply. Remember, the internet is a crowded marketplace. You brand should be very visible and increasingly visual too in the digital atmosphere. The way you tell your brand stories in the retail stores is the way you should do it online. Therefore it is important to consider your digital presence as a key part of the brand experience from the beginning.
Brands are what people say about you when you’re not in the room, but that room has become bigger in the digital space and social media.
So, how can you build your brand and leverage an increasingly visual social atmosphere? Implement a strong visual branding strategy digitally.
Your brand identity and styles matter.
If your digital agency rep tells you that style guides and brand identity system no longer essential in digital marketing — he’s wrong. This is the foundation of your digital marketing strategy. Why is it important? A strong brand will allow you to clarify your message and stake out a unique position that only you can own.
- It differentiates you in the marketplace
- It makes your customers’ choices easier
- It establishes what makes you distinctive versus your competition
- It builds loyalty and can give you permission to charge a premium
- It provides answers: Who are we, what do we stand for, what is our vision?
- It creates a sense of belonging and cohesion for your employees.
- It promotes cooperation across business units and offerings
Without your brand identity system, you might send mix signals in the digital space. Actually, it is the precise tool you need for developing and maintaining a consistent brand communications to your audience. In the noisy world of digital media, staying visible and relevant is even more of a daily challenge.
Use consistent color palette.
Brands and colors are indistinguishably linked. Look at the colors of any well-known brand – like Coca Cola and Starbucks, and you’ll see that they use the same colors over and over again: its imagery, text, and logo. Learn from them. Choose the primary colors from your brand identity system and use consistently throughout all of your social media posts and digital branding presence. Using the same colors over and over again will help consumers become familiar with your brand.
Make content as a central feature of their digital strategy
In this social media driven world, people exchange or share ideas information — almost anything and everything via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram . . . and the list goes on. This works in favor of your brand. If you have great content that consumers will be interested in for their own use, this will drive them to share it. However, plan your social media content in the way you do with your tradition PR campaign. Align all your posts, messages (including your responses to direct messages/comments), and shared ideas with your brand communication tactics. As much as possible, create your own editorial calendar and your own FAQs (frequently asked questions), which can serve as your guide in responding to forums. Remember, brands have less control over what is said about them online. Users have access to the opinions of other users, which heavily influence the way they understand you, which eventually turn into their purchase decisions.
Branding has always been about connectedness.
Brands that actively engage across channels with consumers directly are what works best. And, digital amplifies the connectedness of brands and consumers. It affords brand a great opportunity and the ability to build relationships directly with its consumers. Make it a two-way communication and not merely another brand monologue. Ensure that you are engaged in the conversation wherever it might be at a certain scale that merits your investment.
It has to be real and authentic. Understanding, listening, and responding will make your brand smarter, so it’s important to maintain a lively, customer-driven social media culture. It has to be done right, with a genuineness of its purpose to connect with customers. And when you get it right, you can end up with evangelists or ambassadors for your brand.
Being relevant is absolutely essential.
Being relevant means being quick and responsive — moving at the speed of the consumer. Continuously monitor trendsetting changes in their behavior while you maintain your original brand strategy and approach. Make those Facebook posts to get hundreds of comments, and those tweets to get retweeted for the world to see and their search engine queries to toss towards the top of Google.
Follow trending ‘hashtags’ on Twitter or trending topics on Facebook and try to connect it with brand propositions. Hashtags matter a lot. They can reveal what people truly believe, and they can spread like an epidemic, in both good ways and bad – so be careful too in connecting it with your brand. If consumers love your brand, reach out to them to see if they will help promote your band via their social media. Encouraged them to make a post on their own account or page about their experience. This instantly generated referrals to your brand from friends of friends seeing those posts!
Always bear in mind that branding is not only about your product or service – it is about your social engagement, sales methods, customer services, your employees’ behaviors and everything in between. And, digital marketing allows your brand to leapfrog traditional media and forge relationships directly with customers. If you told them great stories and connected with them in real time, your brand would become a hub for a community of consumers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justine Castellon is an independent brand strategist, a business writer and founder of The Market Place 2.1 and Company. She provides creative thinking and interpretation of consumer and market insights. You may reach her Justine.firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow her at www.twitter.com/marketplace21