Yes, like genres of music.
Think of each social media platform like a genre of music. You may love opera and hate rock ‘n roll. Or love country and hate jazz. It’s the same thing with social media. You don’t have to love it all but there will be a platform (or two, or more) that you really enjoy engaging in, and those are the ones you concentrate on. After all if you’re not having fun with it, you won’t engage with it and then what’s the point? Social media is about being engaged, consistent, and active so pick the genre(s) you love! And stick with them. To understand the style of each genre of social media check out this posting on donuts. It’ll make sense when you get there!
This graphic has been around a long time and about a year ago this savvy young blogger updated the concept to include some newer social media platforms. It’s a simple way of understanding the difference between social media platforms. Each has it’s own feel and style, just like genres of music. So, which platform does your brand fit with best?
From private colleges with multiple locations to start up franchise companies with 15 locations and counting, visionary leaders, heads of marketing, owners are all perplexed by the complexity of their brand identities.
Once a logo is designed (the brand identity) implementation is next. Sure the agency/design firm will pull together the basics like letterhead and business cards, but what of all the material that follows? Posters, announcements, flyers, quick brochures, and so on? Over time, and sometimes even right out of the gate organizations begin to develop additional brand flourishes as visual cues for their brand that go beyond the logo. What then? Well, if it works with the brand positioning, great. But, what if it confuses everyone? That’s not good. How do you reign in those wavy lines under or behind a logo, those added dots or exclamation points? When does it stop making sense?
Here are five easy steps to ensuring your brand flourishes are adding to an understanding of your brand not taking away from it.
- Do these flourishes reflect the personality of your culture and organization? For instance, does that wavy line add a whimsical element to your look and feel? If so does that reflect who you are as an organization on the inside? Ensure the personality of who you are on the inside if reflected in the design elements you use to reflect who you are to the outside world.
- Define the purpose of each flourish. They were added to your materials for a reason: to represent an important element of how you present yourself to the outside world; to emphasize a point or part of your brand that a certain department or group in your organization feels is not well represented. Having a view of “the why” of each flourish will help fill in weak areas.
- How many additional flourishes have you added? Your designer put together a brand guideline that outlines proper uses and misuses of your logo. It includes a colour palette and a summary of typography. Together these represent your visual brand. Have you added one or ten additional graphic elements (e.g. waves, punctuation, shapes, shading, photography)? Engage your designer explaining why these were created and have them develop a set (3-4) additional flourishes that are part of your brand guidelines and meet your needs.
- Has your designer incorporated brand flourishes that you don’t understand. Nip that in the bud! Get to the heart of what the design is seeing in your brand that you may not be. A designer’s visual cues to your brand must be substantiated and grounded in a clear understanding of what and who the brand is representing.
- Understand who you are. Knowing who you are on the inside will help you present that to the outside world. When you have that inside/outside match you build trust and integrity with your audience and that breeds success.
A brand is not what you say you are.
It’s actually who you are.
Where things have gone wrong
This is where things have gone wrong with branding in the past. Agencies come up with cool and trendy stories about organizations without giving a thought to whether that image accurately reflects who they are. When who you are on the inside doesn’t match how you present yourself to the outside world you can’t live up to what you’re saying about yourself. When you do have that inside/outside match it establishes trust between you and your audiences and that breeds success. It’s what Studio Pinpoint calls Brand Integrity.
Do you hate going to work in your own company? Tony did.
The reason we look at culture is because that is a clue to uncovering your values. Cultures are the sum total of the values and character of the people in an organization. Let me give you an example. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com a couple of years ago after he made a presentation at a business conference I was attending. In his presentation he talked about the first firm he founded, a tech firm which he later sold for a couple hundred million dollars to Microsoft. Tony said people often see this as a success but to him it was like a failure. He built this firm with the help of friends and friends of friends and after a while they grew so big that the culture of the organization changed and he hated coming to work in his own company. He learned a big lesson here.
Define who you are
Defining who you are is a key to building a successful, profitable and well aligned organization – and one that you’ll be happy to go to work in. Read about Tony’s amazing work at Zappos.com in his blog post on brand and culture.
What to do?
Begin from the inside. What is the culture of your company that makes people a good or bad fit? Note those qualities and build on those. When designing your advertising, writing web copy, writing a press release reflect this quality in your outside persona.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde.
If you know anyone that’s not enjoying going to work in their own firm send them the link to this posting and have them click on the this link: We’ll offer them a brand discovery session at no cost or obligation.
No one knows what the heck it is!
This story on the launch of Food Lion’s brand strategy across 268 stores in Virginia and West Virginia, speaks extensively to in-store enhancements, lower prices, better shopping (or user) experience, greater value, and fresh produce. Well these are all great things and the company proved that in their pilot launch in a couple of stores in 2011. The issue I have is this. What they are describing is a go-to-market strategy. Not a brand strategy.
And therein lies the rub. The problem with brand strategy is no-one knows what the heck it is.
Studio Pinpoint Lexicon:
Go-to-market strategy: The strategy a company develops that defines how they go to market. The “how” includes product offering, marketing techniques, corporate social responsibility (as outlined in the article about Food Lion), the user (or customer) experience and so on. This is what Food Lion has done. Developed what seems to be a very well-defined and well-executed go-to-market strategy. Bravo!
Brand Strategy: Is the strategy that defines who you are and this is how we explain it. Successful sprinters understand the importance of a good start. It’s where big races are won and lost. And the same is true in business. That’s why a brand strategy is important to your organization. It starts you cleanly out of the blocks by defining who you are and what you are about.
A brand strategy puts your team members on the same page and provides a common jumping off point so there is stability within the company, how you deliver your product/services, and your communication to the outside world. A brand strategy establishes consistency…which builds trust…which breeds success.
Many businesses fail to establish it. Without a clearly defined vision, common set of standards, and a company culture where everyone understands the offer and how it differentiates the organization, they lose traction…waste movement…miss handoffs…and fall behind.
Studio Pinpoint embodies an organization’s brand strategy in their proprietary product the Brandfolio™. With it you lead the field with your eye on a clear goal, you know what’s needed to reach it and, move with fluidness and a strong sense of teamwork. Measure decisions against what does and does not fit with your brand. Use the Brandfolio™ as a guideline to hire, promote internally, develop go-to-market strategies, deliver effective marketing campaigns, and maintain a vibrant vision that strategically moves you forward.
A brand strategy is made up of four elements, all of them inform everyone’s understanding of an organization. These four elements are:
- Brand Essence: the underlying truth
- Brand Positioning: unique differentiation
- Brand Promise: the commitment
- Brand Personality: the way you do it
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- Does your brand flourish
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- The problem with brand strategy is…
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Brand Guide for BusinessThe Brand Guide for Business, originally published in 2010, is a do-it-yourself brand guide for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Define your unique selling proposition beyond quality, innovation, and service – there is something unique about you that is truly different, find it with this guide. Visit the brand marketing plan website for more.
BooksRomana is a contributing author in Wiley's Interior Design in Practice Read a few pages from Romana's chapter here.