The best and most successful brands – regardless of size – are all unique, recognisable, and memorable. How do they achieve this? Through consistent application wherever that brand is visible.
This sounds simple enough. It’s relatively easy to make sure your website and printed materials share the same graphical assets (such as logos), visual styles, colour schemes, and use of language.
But how do you maintain that same level of consistency over social media? Each platform has its own way of presenting posts and media, so how can you possibly keep everything uniform? Let’s find out.
Why is Brand Consistency So Important?
The most powerful brands rely on consistency. Putting forward a stable, single brand picture time and time again naturally aids memorability and brand awareness. However if a brand doesn’t portray themselves consistently – say by constantly changing up colour schemes, design styles, and textual tone of voice – they forfeit that same level of memorability.
How exactly could such inconsistencies damage a brand’s inherent value? Let’s take a hypothetical look at a big brand like Google. Most of us use at least one Google service every day, and we put a lot of trust in them to keep things working smoothly. We’re therefore familiar with their airy aesthetic and well-crafted brand assets.
However, if that friendly-yet-reputable brand image slipped from time to time, revealing inconsistent colour palettes, cramped design, and poorly crafted copy, chances are this would have a knock-on effect on our trust in their brand. Even Google’s die-hard followers may start to value the brand less, perhaps favouring other solutions in the future.
Maintaining a consistent, professional brand is just as important for smaller companies, if not more so. Small brands don’t have “household name” status to lean on, so they need to make their visual style as uniform (and therefore consistently recognisable) as possible.
For more info about the importance of brand consistency, check out our guide: Brand Consistency: The Most Important Part of Branding
How to Maintain Brand Consistency Over Social Media
Before we start, we need to establish your brand’s visual and textual personality. Firstly, investigate your target audiences – what kinds of companies are they interacting with? What sorts of visual language and tone of voice do they seem to gravitate towards?
If you haven’t already, it may be worth asking a design or branding agency (such as OLCO Design) to help you produce a visual brand identity that’s built on rock-solid design principles and market research. Branding professionals can also help you put together a “brand guideline” document. This is a guide that states how your brand should be presented, including information about your brand’s colour palette, logo presentation, tone of voice, and typography choices.
All of your publicly facing text and visuals should adhere to these guidelines – that includes your website, all of your social channels, your content marketing, and your print materials.
You also need to work out a few practicalities relating to social media. What do you want/expect your business to achieve from social media? Which team members are going to manage your social channels? What kinds of topics and content should they share and how frequently?
If you still haven’t set up your social media accounts, always aim to secure the same username across all platforms. It’s an important way to keep your social presence consistent – and keeps everything easier to remember too!
Staying Consistent Across Multiple Platforms
With your brand guidelines in mind, let’s get to each platform. Each social platform has its own features and considerations, so let’s take a quick look at each.
When you land on a Facebook Page, the organisation’s name, cover image, and profile picture are all displayed prominently. Your brand’s Facebook profile picture should ideally be a clear image of your logo (or a version of it) with a solid colour background. Facebook profile pictures are presented in a circular format, so you should choose a square graphic with space around the perimeter to allow for this. You can be a little more creative with the cover image – this is a great opportunity to broadcast your company’s tagline, or provide a high-res photo of your results if you provide a visual product or service.
Facebook is a great platform for sharing both visual and textual updates, but we’re naturally drawn to graphics – especially videos. Consider how your brand can translate its existing graphical stylings into motion. Videos uploaded to Facebook generally autoplay on mute (unless the user’s autoplay settings switched off) so try to make your first few seconds really enticing to encourage viewers to stop scrolling and watch more.
Alongside each post, you can also share up to 63,206 characters of text; however this truncates into a “see more” link at around 400-450 characters. Therefore you ideally want to keep any text below the 400 character mark.
Inspiring Page: Google’s Facebook Page – Google’s page provides a good mix of videos, on-brand illustrations and carefully selected photography.
Your Instagram profile picture follows many of the same rules as Facebook in terms of size, dimensions, and its circle shape. Though there’s no cover image here, you do have space to enter your brand’s name, location, and a short piece of “bio” text – a brief introduction to your company. In this header section, you can also provide a single web link. Unfortunately Instagram only allows you to include a single link here (and URL links within posts aren’t clickable) so choose wisely.
Instagram is chiefly a visual platform, so your visual brand, typography, and colour schemes need to be particularly polished here. Though you can post landscape and portrait-oriented graphics, Instagram’s layout does favour a 1:1 square format.
Each post provides the opportunity to share a 2,200 character description, including 30 hashtags. Using popular, well-suited hashtags are a great way to make your content discoverable.
Much like Facebook, YouTube channels require a header and profile image – both of which should be on-brand and get people in the mood to want to see more. You can also set custom thumbnails for each of your videos – great for providing variety if your videos themselves are visually quite similar.
Many professional YouTube videos feature “idents” – short branded animations at the start and (sometimes) end of each video that establish the channel’s brand and identity. You’ve most likely seen a similar concept on TV – here are some classic idents from BBC2 as an example.
Inspiring Channel: Emma Mills & MiPA’s Channel – This channel is a great example of a YouTube channel for a small business. It’s a carefully curated channel with on brand graphics and completed about section. Each of the videos have opening idents and custom thumbnails too.
There are really two elements to a company’s presence on LinkedIn – personal profiles and company pages.
Setting up a company page is an essential part of keeping your brand consistent across your social channels. Without it, your team members can style your company name however they like within the “Experience” section of their personal profiles. If you use multiple trading names or have styled your company name differently in the past, this may cause confusion. However when you set up a company page, each team member can associate their current (or previous) roles using the same company name.
Both company and personal pages require a header/cover image and profile image. Much like our advice on header images above, they should be visually and textually on-brand, piquing a viewer’s interest in your company, and featuring a short, on-brand slogan if possible. The visible part of LinkedIn’s cover images is quite narrow, so any text needs to be bold, short, and sweet.
Your company page’s profile image should distinctly display of your logo on a plain background. Personal profile images should be a clear, high-resolution headshot of the person, taken in good lighting and in professional surroundings. Snapchat filter selfies and sun-singed holiday snaps are a no-no – though unfortunately you do see them from time to time!
The language used on your company page and used by your staff should reflect your brand’s agreed upon tone of voice.
Alas, that’s all we have time for today, but remember that all of your visual comms need to be dictated by your company’s unique, established brand guidelines. And if you need some help pinpointing your brand’s unique style, get in touch with OLCO Design! We take time to get to know your brand inside and out, helping you to put forward a consistent, professional, and welcoming front across all touchpoints. Want to learn more? Check out our Branding services, or simply call 0330 223 1193 or email [email protected] to book a free consultation session.