Tips for Unifying Your Brand (Part Two)
When Lewis Carroll’s Alice is struggling with identity issues, she refers to figuring everything out as “the great puzzle.” She’s 100% right. Identity isn’t a single entity; it’s a vast matrix—a puzzle made up of interconnected pieces.
Pulling together all the interconnected pieces that comprise your brand and creating one cohesive, consistent message can be daunting. But that’s how you gain and maintain a positive media presence.
So how do you organize and structure your messaging so that it stays uniform across multiple channels? How do you foster positive interactions with your customers, and position them as ambassadors for your brand? How do you tell your brand’s story without your message getting lost in all the noise on the internet?
Let go of the logo
So many articles on branding start off talking about logos. Even this one is doing it. But, what I’m about to say runs counter to the traditional advice you’ve heard about the importance of logos. Yes, you need one. And yes, it needs to be reflective of your company’s mission and values. And yes, color matters. But is it the first thing you should design? Is it the thing on which you build your entire brand? Absolutely not.
As Jon Hollamby, the creative director of Australian digital media company Domain, which specializes in real estate, recently wrote in his article No One Cares About Your Logo, “Logos on their own actually say nothing.” They can raise awareness and help with discovery, but your logo is not your brand, or even your brand’s foundation. It’s just one single piece of your brand—and it should be developed along with all your other design elements. It shouldn’t be the thing you focus on or design your campaign around.
So if your logo shouldn’t be your focus, what should be?
Guide your brand
Instead of focusing on individual parts of your business’s brand, your primary focus needs to be on the brand itself. What does that mean?
You need to provide overall direction for your company, and developing a brand guide can help do that. Think about it this way: if your brand is the face of your company, your brand guide is its skeleton—providing structure, support and movement.
A brand guide should be the primary visual component of your company’s branding identity. It defines aspects of your logo, color palette, typography, layout, links, navigation and imagery. It covers language use and tone, as well as spelling and grammar. It incorporates elements that highlight your company’s personality. It supports your identity, mission and values.
Your brand guide is a blueprint for people who have a hand in any sort of messaging relating to your business. It provides uniformity and consistency in everything from common user interface elements to how your NAP is styled, ensuring that your marketing message is cohesive. It also saves time. Having templates for various design and communication elements saves you from having to reinvent the wheel every time you want to engage with your customers.
Unfortunately, very few companies give brand guides the time and attention they deserve. This results in inconsistent and even incorrect branding and content going out. These muddled marketing messages only end up confusing your base.
Our expert designers and content writers can help you establish a strong brand foundation by creating brand and content guides for your company that will simplify brand management and strengthen brand messaging.
Dig a little deeper
Your brand guide will bring consistency to your visual identity system, and that’s a great start. But while your brand guide is your company’s skeleton, it’s your experiential identity that is your company’s heart.
A customer’s experience isn’t just about the product or service they’re purchasing. It’s about every single interaction they have, at every touchpoint along the way. Ultimately, it’s about how your company makes them feel.
The companies best at this—Apple, Lululemon, Starbucks, CrossFit, Southwest Airlines, Nike, SoulCycle—make their consumers feel like they are part of something special, part of a family. Once they feel like that, they stop being customers and start being advocates and ambassadors.
A strong brand identity can help establish that emotional connection, which in turn builds brand loyalty. This is why it’s so important for your employees—from sales clerks to tech support—to reflect the company’s core values when dealing with customers.
In order for you to know you’re getting this crucial element right, you need to be able to get feedback from your customers. This feedback can come in the form of establishing a customer service rating system, surveying customers or eliciting testimonials. Soliciting this information communicates to your current customers that you care about their experience, and it gives potential customers more insight into your brand’s ethos and values. That insight translates into increased profit, as 71% of people are more likely to make a purchase that’s been referred to them through social media.
Managing your brand’s reputation may seem daunting though, especially in an era when a whopping 78 percent of Twitter users expect a company to respond to an inquiry within one hour. Ignoring complaints or responding too slowly will only increase their disgruntlement, and the chance that they’ll leave bad public review.
That’s why 360 PSG offers reputation management as one of our services. An effective online reputation management strategy can provide you with new opportunities and insights to increase brand awareness. We can help you promote positive customer interactions while countering any negative reviews. Mitigating the damage done by a frustrated customer who leaves a bad review is especially important since research suggests that businesses risk losing nearly a quarter of their potential customers when a negative article appears on the first page of a search result.
Go the distance
Thought you were done? Not hardly. But if you’ve instituted all the recommendations made thus far, you’ve positioned your brand nicely. Now you just need to keep the momentum going.
We’ve talked a lot so far about what you need to do, but not so much about where you need to do it. So where are you supposed to market your brand? The truth is, the where is everywhere.
As important as social media marketing is, it’s definitely not the only game in town. You still have to concern yourself with website marketing and traditional marketing methods. And you have to keep your brand consistent across all of them.
But social media marketing is especially crucial, and it’s getting more complex as time goes on. This is why social media management isn’t an option; it’s a necessity. If you’re not making the most of your social media accounts, you’re likely losing out to your competition.
With the proliferation of the internet into every facet of modern life, social media channels have diversified to the point that a business can’t thrive if it only has a generic “social media plan;” it has to have a plan for each of the handful of major social media platforms as well as the relevant niche platforms.
Fifty-six percent of adults use more than one social media channel, and each of the major platforms—Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, LinkedIn, Viber—has its own nuances and limitations, meaning you’ll have to tweak your posts for each platform, while keeping your overall messaging consistent.
You need to do more than just promote your products on social media. In fact, if that’s all you do, you run the risk of losing followers—46 percent of users state they’ll unfollow a brand that posts too much promotional material. Instead, follow the social media rule of thirds: one-third promotion; one-third engagement; and one-third sharing industry news.
Social media also provides great insights into your customers’ wants and needs, but if all you’re doing is looking at the analytics generated by Facebook’s Page Insights, you’re missing out on a lot of crucial data that will help you meet your KPIs (key performance indicators). At 360 PSG, we can aggregate higher level data from website traffic, social media, email, apps and other marketing channels to provide you with a clear picture of what’s working and what needs to be worked on.
Whether it’s helping develop a brand guide, performing reputation management or gathering insight on the success of your company’s marketing campaigns, 360 PSG can help your company generate more leads and convert them into sales by designing a customized marketing plan that will drive your business forward.