Posted by Murray Sye
on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 @ 07:19 AM
Branding in the inbound age is different. It's different because branding in the age of inbound marketing, is inherently branding in the age of the internet. And the internet moves fast! That means your brand can be elevated in an instant – and destroyed just as quickly.
But it can also be built up over time, and reach far more people than ever before (keep in mind a long build-up can still mean a quick fall, though). The opportunity for a small company to have a big voice is here with the internet – but to do it, you need to be good at not only getting found; you need a differentiator, too.
What does a brand look like?
Perhaps above all else, what a successful brand looks and feels like online is consistent. No matter which channel your customers and prospects choose to interact with your brand – website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, or whatever tomorrow's technology brings – they should all demonstrate the unique experience your brand represents.
Southwest Airlines, for example, built a large part of its brand experience around those signature packets of peanuts they serve onboard. Seem trivial? Not so, being a little "nuts" is now part of the Southwest brand – from flight attendants singing about how to buckle your seat belt, to a contest-winning photo of smoochin manatees on Southwest's Facebook page (the airline is, after all, headquartered at Dallas' Love field).
Visually, your brand should include the same elements – logo, colours, fonts – across all channels. But more important than just mere design consistency, it's the experience people have with your brand online that should transcend each channel and be instantly recognizable as your brand.
How to achieve brand consistency across channels
Use this checklist for your social networks, website, blog, email marketing, and any other marketing collateral to ensure your audience is have the same experience with your brand everywhere they go. Strive to reach consistency of:
Tone and Voice – What does your brand sound like? Are you irreverent? Professional? Sarcastic? All of the above? You may find it changes depending on your marketing channel; social media channels for example, may be more informal than emails.
Font – What font or fonts do you use, other than Comic Sans, of course?
Colours – What are your brand's core colours? Include variations of those colours to give designers room to be creative, but still on-brand.
Design Elements – What design elements define your brand? Would you consider your part of the Web 2.0 movement? Do you embrace white space? Do you have a logo, banner, or mascot that accompanies all your content?
Messaging – How do you message your core products and services? What's the value proposition you assert?
Positioning – What's your brand's take on controversial industry issues?
Putting your brand into play: Social Presence
A social presence for your brand and your brands is essential in the inbound age. But not every social channel is right for every brand. You'll need to sort through what's out there to see what's best – particularly for your target persona and any new target audiences you're working to reach in the future.
Here are some of the major social media networks a brand strategist should consider, and what they're best used for:
The King Kong of social media with 1 billion users and counting, establish a Facebook page for your business to develop and foster a sense of community between your brand and your customers, and among your customers and their target audiences. Practically speaking, no brand, no matter what their business, can afford to be without a Facebook page.
Twitter, and the communiqués you send via Twitter (tweets), is a great way to keep your brand connected to your audience in real time with 140-character burst of information. Great tweets for a brand are things that are humorous, celebrate your clients or customers, offer discounts or special offers targeted to your persona, or tips that will make them more successful. And remember, deliver all of these in a tone that's appropriate for social media (you know, social), even if your tone isn't typically so casual.
For any B2B business, LinkedIn is important not just as a tool to forge connections – it's also a lead generator, traffic generator, and most important for brand managers, a place to assert your company's thought leadership position. Showcase, through sharing content and participating in relevant discussions, what your brand has to offer about the topics that are important to your target audience. The bonds you'll form here between your band and LinkedIn members will pay dividends down the road.
This Google-owned video-sharing service is a valuable place to share content that is best demonstrated visually. Use YouTube for everything from broadcasting one-on-one interviews or roundtable discussions, to product demonstrations, to entertaining newsjacks of pop-culture events that will help elevate a client's brand (or your own).
Follow our content curation channel, Inbound Digital Marketing with WhiteSpace for daily breaking news!
Flickr Photo Credit: by Rusty Blazenhoff
Written by Murray SyeMurray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.