The importance of visual branding on social media.
Set the right impression with your brand.
What comes to mind when you think of the word branding?
When you think of the word branding, you might be thinking of the colours and fonts you use on your visual assets. You might think of the design of the packaging that you sell your products in. But chances are when you think of the word branding, you probably almost instantly thought of a logo.
And while your logo is a key element of your company's visual identity- it's only one part of a suite of elements that make up your overall branding.
Much like your logo, your social media profiles represent who your company is and what it stands for too. And chances are, if your audience already follows your socials, they will already have a perception of your brand based on your social media profiles, so it's up to you to shape how you want people to feel about it.
So, how do you shape your brand's perception on social media?
Brand guidelines are a set of rules that help define the perception and vision of your company, they also define how your assets look and feel of your brand and help to build the identity your audience recognises. Having a well-structured and detailed set of brand guidelines will really help you to keep your social media accounts consistent with the rest of your branding.
- Post consistently. There's nothing worse than dormant accounts. Aim to get into a routine of posting relevant content to the channels that your audience is on. It's better to do one or two channels well, than five or six channels done badly. To be seen as consistent, it's important that you carve time out of your diary or get support to help you manage your social media.
- Share high-quality content that adds value to your audience. This revolves around you knowing what your audience wants to see on your channels, not posting what you think they want to see.
- Make sure your key messages are consistent across all your marketing channels. You might have different audiences on social media than you do on your marketing emails, but your core messages should always be the same.
- Identify who your competitors are, see what they're doing right and wrong and learn from them
- Encourage user-generated content- there are no better ambassadors for your brand than your clients or customers. Are there opportunities for your customers to create content that you can then share?
- Ask your customers to leave reviews both on your social channels and on your Google my business account.
There are four pieces of social content that all audiences will engage with:
- Emotional- Does your social content spark an emotional reaction in your audience? Does it make them laugh or cry, does it motivate them? Always try to avoid annoying or making your audience angry.
- Relatable- Will your audience relate to your content? Will they be affected personally?
- Practical- Does it help your audience solve a problem they have? When I have to do some DIY and don't know how to do it, the first thing I'll do is YouTube the issue to see if there is a tutorial I can follow.
- Remarkable- Is the content something that they wouldn't usually see every day?
Think of your social media account as a person.
Now that you know what to communicate on social media, you next need to think about how to communicate it. The easiest way to do this is to think if your social media account was a person, how would that person speak? There are lots of ways you can develop a social media tone of voice, and there are lots of online tools that can help you too.
Now you know how to communicate as your brand, and you know what your audience wants to see on your channels, here are a few ways you can keep your visuals consistent on social media.
- Make sure your logo and header banners are sized correctly, and if you have text in the banners, make sure it isn't cropped for desktop, mobile and tablet. This might seem obvious, but these are the first visual elements your audience will see of your brand on social media, and you want to set the right impression.
- Build a range of customisable templates that you can quickly update for regularly posted content like testimonials or blogs.
- Use a consistent colour palette. Choose colours to use consistently throughout all of your social media posts and marketing (the same colours in your brand guidelines). See how Cadbury uses its iconic purple and white across all of its imagery, text and logo.
Use the same fonts as in your brand guidelines. This ties into the consistency piece we mentioned above. As a rule of thumb, avoid generic fonts such as Comic Sans or Papyrus. And when you are sharing a text-based graphic, keep the line length short and triple-check your spelling and grammar.
An important part of effective imagery is your brand filters, which can add consistency to your graphics and make them more appealing on social media. For example, Corona uses a sun-drenched filter in its social graphics to give a 'summery' feel
Make sure your images are sized correctly. Sprout Social have a page that is constantly updated with the latest sizes for all platforms. Sharing a horizontal image in a story? Give the image a story-sized background. Don't put anything in the upper and lower 250-310 pixels
Get the best quality images/videos possible. There are lots of free tools and apps you can use to help improve the visual elements of your content but use them sparingly.
Visuals get more engagement, which helps increase the reach of your post. Share videos, images, and infographics as well as longer-form content. Video is the best-performing type of content so if you can, prioritise this where you can. You don't always need to use fancy cameras or expensive equipment either, an iPhone and a lapel mic can be just as effective and more authentic.
Your social media posts don't always have to be serious. Using memes and GIFs in the right situations can help your brand be more human.
Use reels for video content and adjust the cover photo of the reel so that it looks consistent with your grid. Also make use of stickers, locations and trending music too
Beware of copyright. You can't just save an image from Google and post it on your own social media accounts. Your social media content needs to belong to you. If you need stock images, take a look at sites like Pexels or Unsplash but remember to give credit if you need to.
While on the subject of using stock images, remember every visual you put out represents your brand. You may have no other option but to use stock images on social, but remember your content will look so much better if you use real photos of yourself and your team.
When producing visuals for social media, you'll want to make them accessible to as many people as possible. Use features like alt-text to describe what's happening in the image to help those with visual impairments and screen readers, and avoid using green and red or blue and yellow colours together as they're difficult to read.
So there you have it, that was a few ways that you can keep your social media visuals consistent.