10 Guidelines That Will Help You Create a Consistent Brand Identity Online
Digital branding describes your efforts to create an online identity through content marketing, SEO, social media, and other marketing endeavors. The goal is to be distinct and set yourself apart from your competitors, memorable and create lasting impressions, and scalable to allow for future growth. How can you do this? Keep on reading to find out.
Brand identity is more than a logo or a color scheme; it’s who you are. It’s what makes an emotional connection with your audience, what influences their interactions with you, and what tells them if you’re relevant, trustworthy and engaging.
“Our personality determines how we behave in different situations, how we dress and what we say. Of course, for people it’s intuitive and it’s rare that you even consider what your own character is, but when you’re building a brand, it’s vital to have that understanding.” – Dan Einzig, Founder and MD of the brand design agency, Mystery
1: Know Your Audience
The most important factor, by far, for creating a successful brand identity is to know your audience. Simply put, you can’t have one without the other. Without an identity, your audience has no one to connect with. Without an audience, your brand has no one to identify for. Who are they? What attracts them? What do they believe in? Researching your audience will be the foundation for your brand identity and what molds it. It’s what your digital branding efforts will build on.
So, who is your audience? And no, please don’t say everyone. Not only is that impossible, but endeavoring to build a brand that identifies with everyone is a waste of time, energy and money. More often than not your brand will fit into a specific niche with a set audience and identifying factors. Target them, market to them, and create your identity for them.
2: Be Social
The next step is to enter the social media landscape. About 83% of B2B marketers in North America use social media content as part of their marketing tactics, and you should too. Why? Because 97% of Internet users aged 16-64 use a social media platform.
Your best bet is to have a presence in as many networks as you can while reserving your efforts for the top platforms used by your audience. Chances are good that these will either be Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Also important is tailoring your content for that particular platform. Facebook creates emotional connections while Instagram and Twitter create visual moments. Here’s a visual social media marketing strategy that can help.
3: Get an Influencer
Part of your social media plan should be to recruit an influencer. Influencers are the people the masses look up to for advice and guidance. They’re the ones whose blog you read, whose tweet you see, and whose audience you want to appeal to. It’s the transitive property of equality in action.
If A = B and B = C, then A = C. In other words, if your audience likes an influencer and that influencer likes you, your audience will like you.
The point here is that aligning your brand with someone who is considered by many to be an authority figure will solidify your identity in a certain respect. If you’ve ever purchased a Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick or a Beauty blender after scrolling through the Kardashian’s Twitter feed, you know what I’m talking about.
4: Optimize for Mobile
This one’s a no-brainer. Unless you just traveled from a parallel universe with no smartphones, you know how big mobile is. The fact of the matter is that a majority of your audience will use a mobile device more than once today, tomorrow, the day after that, and so on until we come up with something that allows us to do everything with our mind. Actually, even then you’ll have to optimize for that, so you better start with what’s big today.
Smartphones have become an extension of ourselves for good reasons. We can call, text, search, capture, record, and do pretty much anything with our phones. What do we do if we want to look something up? Turn to our phones. What do we do when we want to find something to eat? Turn to our phones. If the answer will always be, “turn to our phones,” why wouldn’t you want to account for that? The goal is for your audience to be able to easily connect with you on any device, be it a desktop, smartphone or tablet. If they can’t do that, can they actually identify with you?
5: Improve Your Customer Service
Did you know that 73% of consumers love a brand because of friendly customer service? No? Maybe you didn’t know because customer service is often overlooked in the branding process. It’s unfortunate but true.
Aumcore, a digital agency, writes on their website, “Brand Identity is who you are as a business or organization, and that statement needs to be strong and clear, resonating throughout all aspects of your business decisions.”
This means everything from your social media posts to your customer service is in play. What is your audience going to do if they have a question about your brand? Contact customer service. What about when they have a problem? Again, contact customer service. That moment, when someone decides to get in touch with you, is vital for branding. It’s what will make them think of you as something more than just a brand.
6: Go Live with Your Brand
Live streaming is in the moment; it’s now. More than video, going live means that for those 10 minutes, 20, 30, or however long, you know you have your audience’s attention. It gives you an opportunity to show them what happens behind-the-scenes and for them to connect with you.
With Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or other live video services, viewers can comment as the live stream progresses. This means that a conversation between your brand and them can take place. You can host a live Q&A session, webinar, product demo, anything. Take this as an opportunity to make lasting connections that will solidify your brand’s identity.
7: Use Custom Images
Let’s play a quick question game of sorts. What gives a brand more of an authoritative identity, posting content with custom images or posting content with third-party images? If you chose the former you are…correct! Not only that, but posting content with custom images allows you to tailor it according to your wants and needs. Translation? You can use images to further your brand identity.
8: Create a LogoThe legendary logo design expert, Sam Bass, once said, “Logos are a graphic extension of the internal realities of a company.” Logos are your brand’s identifier; how your audience will recognize you. It’s best to keep it simple, yet memorable. Too vague? Well, yeah, that’s the way it is.
There’s no formula for the perfect logo because it changes from industry to industry, from business to business.
Take Twitter’s logo, for instance. It used to be ‘twitter,’ then ‘twitter’ followed by a small bird, and now it’s just the small bird. As Twitter became a more recognized brand, its logo moved farther away from text and became a simplified image that is easily recognized by millions.
9: Choose a Color Scheme
Let’s start with a statistic: color increases brand recognition by up to 80%. Sure, whenever I see red and yellow I think of McDonald’s, red and white and I think of Coca-Cola, and white and orange and I think of the Home Depot. Colors evoke certain emotions in people and symbolize different things for different civilizations across the world.
Choose what emotions/beliefs you want your audience to associate with your band and go from there. You can have monochromatic color schemes, analogous, complementary, triadic, or honestly, whatever you think best symbolizes your brand. Take a look at this page for a more in-depth explanation (and to see how McDonald’s changes their color scheme from country to country).
10: Pick a Typography
Last but definitely not least, typography. Typography gives your brand personality. Whereas a handwriting font is casual and personal, a script font is formal and declarative. The best part is that you have hundreds of options, literally. You have font, size, leading (vertical space between each line), kerning (adjusting space between characters), measure (width of text block), hierarchy and scale (differences in size), and more. And between each of these, you have a lot of options as well, meaning an exponential amount of options.
Your brand identity, or how people see you, leaves a lasting impression. With this in mind, it’s best to create an identity that your audience relate with. For this, you have two options: the first is to go to a branding agency that can help you with all your branding needs; the second is to adopt a DIY attitude and follow the guidelines below:
- Know Your Audience
- Be Social
- Get an Influencer
- Optimize for Mobile
- Improve Your Customer Service
- Go Live with Your Brand
- Use Custom Images
- Create a Logo
- Choose a Color Scheme
- Pick a Typography
Whatever you choose, best of luck with your branding!
Matthew is a creative content writer at Aumcore. He has a passion for marketing and specializes in brand identity services.
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