The former CEO of Coca-Cola probably knows a thing or two about successful brands. He once noted, “A brand is a promise. A good brand is a promise kept.”
The danger for inconsistent brands is they come across as unable to keep promises. That’s why consistency is fundamentally important to brands. It can make or break your relationships with customers.
But it doesn’t mean being repetitive. Consistency shouldn’t stifle creativity. It doesn’t mean there’s no freedom to adapt according to a given channel or moment. Instead, it means understanding the fundamentals and non-negotiables of your brand.
Then you need to communicate these, while exercising creativity and freedom depending on your channel or audience.
Whether someone is visiting your store, stadium, website or Twitter feed, they should know they’ve come to the right place.
Here are some of the key considerations when it comes to getting it right on social media…
Brand guidelines as a broad framework
Brand guidelines work best when they nail the fundamental identity of a brand but also give you the flexibility you need depending on the specific campaign, audience or channel.
Are your customers on your social channel younger on average than those in store? How much of their undivided attention do you have in these separate environments? Have you considered how your brand offers the instant gratification expected on image-led social channels, such as Instagram and TikTok? How about how this differs from the way you represent your brand on more text-friendly platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter?
These are some of the key questions your brand guidelines need to address.
Consistency doesn’t mean losing sight of context – with the right research, insight and thought, it’s possible to be consistent in your brand promise while adapting to the specific interaction.
Translate the brand authentically
Translating the brand so that it works across different channels requires an understanding of whether it feels authentic and delivers the intended result.
You should have some fundamentals around brand values and identity, including colour palettes, logos, fonts and tone of voice. It’s important not to lose these or your social presence will lack authenticity.
Above all, you need to think about the feeling and emotion your brand evokes. You want your audience to feel the same way about you, no matter which platform they’re on.
A study by Cardiff Business School researchers found that well-chosen colours can offer great value to brands. Part of this is creating a colour palette that works across all channels.
If your team’s colours are black and gold, for instance, you’ll find that gold doesn’t work as well on social channels. It ultimately ends up being yellow with a render to make it look gold. Other colours might work less well when animated. That’s why it’s important to identify secondary colours that are consistent with your brand and work well on social platforms.
Choose your colours wisely, and where possible stick to 2 or 3 core colours. This helps simplify things for you, and helps you achieve greater consistency.
Fonts are another important area where it’s possible to achieve brand consistency, whilst adapting to specific channels and activations.
A smart approach involves using font pairings. This means there’s the flexibility to create three or four levels of hierarchy, ensuring your headlines pair with your body copy and your choice of fonts consistently reflect your brand personality.
It’s also important to consider how best to animate your brand assets on social channels.
This works best when animation communicates something about the values and identity of the brand.
Consistent visuals combined with relevant animation can be a smart way to build affinity with your audience.
A sound approach
Brands with a clearly defined tone of voice should look for audio that matches this identity, whether that’s excitement, authority, or energy. Developing this with a clear story and rationale is key. The most effective sonic branding is a genuine extension of your brand. Equally, your style of voiceover should be carefully selected to reflect your brand’s values.
At this stage of consistency, it should be possible to recognise your brand simply through your choice of colours and sounds.
Again, any approach needs to be channel-specific. Facebook users will rarely have audio on when scrolling through their feed. Meanwhile, up to 80% of users viewing Instagram Stories will have sound on. It’s important to adapt accordingly and consider how your assets will perform when sound isn’t switched on.
The value of toolkits
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to creating an engaging, consistent brand that works across channels.
We’ve found that we can best help clients here by creating a toolkit containing templates of assets they are likely to need. This makes it possible to create tailored assets without relying on a design team over and over again.
These are particularly powerful when used to create reactive campaigns that rely on a quick turnaround.
The result is a brand that engages and builds relationships with consumers. A brand that keeps its promise.