On the road to starting a business, branding is often the first stop for most SMEs; and so it should be! Your branding is your first line of communication with your customers, so it makes sense that most business owners have spent hours pouring over things like their name, logo, brand colours and their tagline. And this is great. Putting the time in at the conception of your brand can set you up with a strong framework for communicating with your customers going forward.
Even after spending all that precious time creating your logos and your brand colours however, it’s not always obvious what the best ways are to create a consistent brand message across your web presence. Fear not avid reader, this is where Matchstick Creative is here to help! Here are 6 simple steps that you can take to boost your branding online.
1. Put branding guidelines in place to create consistency
One of the best ways to ensure that your branding stays consistent throughout your content and communications is to follow your brand guidelines. Brand guidelines give anybody communicating with your audience on behalf of your business rules on how to do so.
Below are five features to include in your brand guidelines, and some things to consider when entering them.
Your logo is often the face of your brand, so you want it to be used correctly and consistently in all your communications. Here are some things about your logo to include in your guidelines:
- Colours – which colours do you want your logo to appear in? This is something to consider whilst working on your colour palette. Think of the different backgrounds your logo will appear on.
- Positions – Where do you want your logo to appear on web pages, documents, and social media templates?
- Variations – Logo variations are often used to reflect different services, or different uses for the logo. Variations often include a logo with text and one without. Often you’ll also find that brands have variations that are used for different services they provide.
Brand colours are a really effective way of giving your content and online communication a consistent identity. It’s important to pick colours that reflect your brand identity, and the audience you’re trying to appeal to. With that in mind, here are some helpful things to consider when creating your brand’s colour palette.
- Know your purpose – Your brand colours should reflect who you are wanting to attract as well as your brand’s personality.
- Think psychologically – Psychologists believe that each colour can evoke a different feeling for your audience. That’s why it’s good to do some research on colour psychology before choosing your colour palette.
- Analyse the competition – Take a look at your competitors and take note of their colour schemes. Then you can decide whether you want to compete by creating something similar, or whether you want to stand out from the crowd.
Once you have decided on your brand’s colour palette, you can begin to insert them across all of your online channels:
- Company Website
- Social Media Templates and other social media content
- Email Signatures
Using fonts and typography in a consistent manner is a great way to make your brand more recognisable online. Similarly to logo variations, brands often choose a variety of different fonts to meet a variety of different needs. For example, the font you use in your logo is unlikely to be the same font you use in your main body of text in a company document. Here are some examples of places you might use different typographies for:
- Main Body of text
- Social Media Templates
- When referring to different services
Iconography is something rarely utilised by brands, which is why it’s a great way of setting you apart from the competition. Choosing icons for your business to be used in your content is just another way of creating consistent visual aspects for your brand. These icons can then be used in all your communications.
For more information on creating a style guide for your brand, check out this helpful blog post from Canva.
2. Content Curation
Content is one of those words you hear being used all the time in digital marketing, but not everyone knows how to use it, or what benefits it can bring for your business. Essentially content is just a way of communicating with your online audience, and can take many forms from blog posts such as this one, to photos, videos, social media posts and more. The kind of content you share tells your audience a lot about who your business is. Being able to create your own content is great if you have the resources to do so. However, making content from scratch isn’t always an option, so curating content can be an efficient and effective way of communicating your brand message.
Branding Bonus Example: The Women’s Organisation
The Women’s Organisation develops and delivers training and support for women in the UK with a special focus on business. At the very core of their brand values is female empowerment, which reflects their overall mission of helping women to enhance their role in their own lives.
The post below from The Women’s Organisation features a motivational quote from American track and field sprinter Allyson Felix.
“Don’t wait for the perfect time to go after your dreams. Dream big and be relentless in your pursuit. Don’t be afraid to fail. Embrace your journey and learn from every experience along the way.” – Allyson Felix pic.twitter.com/zHwDZ5SmYQ
— The Women’s Org. (@TheWomensOrg) October 20, 2019
Notice that this post didn’t require The Women’s Organisation to create any designs, take any photos, or partake in any strenuous copywriting; all they needed was a photo from online and a quote from an athlete to have the effect.. Despite being a relatively easy piece of content to create, it does a great job of showing their audience the things they care about, which in this case is inspirational women and female empowerment.
Let’s look at another example of content curation from The Women’s Organisation.
There’s nothing quite like when an @TheWomensOrg event comes together – especially one as inspiring as this 🙌
— Sarah Brown (@SarahBrownComms) October 23, 2019
This content is what we refer to as user-generated content (UGC). Resharing posts created by your audience about your brand is not only a great way of responding to people talking about your brand online, it also helps to give your brand credibility and legitimacy.
3. Execute your brand’s tone of voice (TOV) across all channels
Communicating with your audience online is a little bit like communicating with someone in person. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it; this is where your tone of voice comes in. Creating tone of voice guidelines for communicating online helps to give your brand a voice that your audience can recognise. Having a consistent tone of voice can help your audience feel like they know your brand, and can also make your brand more relatable.
Tone Voice Example: Matchstick Creative Agency
Here at Matchstick Creative Agency, we commit a lot of time and effort into creating a tone of voice that reflects not only our brand identity, but our target audience. Some of the guidelines for our tone of voice are listed below:
Now take a look at these two examples from our social channels and see if you can identify the ways our guides have been used to create captions and tweets for our audience.
View this post on Instagram
This week’s #wednesdaywisdom courtesy of Irene Afful is a MOOD. ⠀ ⠀ We need to start celebrating our unique gifts and stop comparing them to other people’s 🙋♀️⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #womenempowerwomen #empoweredwomenempowerwomen #empowerment #femaleempowerment #wednesdaywisdom #femalebusinessowners #femalebizower #womeninbiz #womeninbusiness #womeninpower #wednesdayquote #wednesdaymotivation #womeninbusinessrock #bossbabe #girlboss
— Matchstick Creative (@jnragency) October 22, 2019
Notice how our tone of voice has been kept the same across both of our social channels to create a consistent brand identity.
To decide on what tone of voice is right for your brand, first ask yourself the following questions:
- How does your audience like to be communicated with?
- Does your audience want to be entertained, or do they want to be informed? Or both?
- Do they want to be challenged, or do they want to be supported?
- Do they want to be communicated to formally or informally?
- Do they appreciate a strong direct approach, or something or something softer?
Answering these types of questions about your audience can help determine what tone of voice to use, and if you don’t know the answers to these questions then you might need to do some more work defining your audience.
4. Social Media Templates
One way of creating more consistent branding for your social media posts, is to create social media templates. Social media templates are branded design templates that you can insert different text and photos in to for your social media content.
Branding Bonus Example: Snooker19
We were given the chance in April to work with Ripstone during the launch of their video game Snooker19. We were given the challenge of creating social media content for their engaging online audience. Check out the Instagram posts we created below. Notice in the posts inserted below how their text logo and website appear in the same place every time. Notice also how their text appears in the same format, with the first and last line in the pink boxes.
View this post on Instagram
We want to know which player you picked for your Career Mode journey! 🏆 Has anyone made it to World Champion? . . . #snooker #snooker19 #snookerplayer #snookercue #snookertable #snookerlife #snookergame #cuesports #snookerlegend #worldsnooker #snookeraddict #snookernight #snookersdiary #ilovesnooker #instasport #sports #snookertournament #careermode
View this post on Instagram
We want to hear about your online stats! How many matches have you won online? Share below for bragging rights 🙌 . . . #snooker #snooker19 #snookerplayer #snookercue #snookertable #snookerlife #snookergame #cuesports #snookerlegend #worldsnooker #snookeraddict #snookernight #snookersdiary #ilovesnooker #instasport #sports
You can create templates like these yourself on websites like Canva, or if you’re not very design-savvy, a professional designer should not cost you and your business too much as templates only have to be basic. Having templates like these at hand makes producing consistently branded content really quick and easy, and can really help take your social channels to the next level.
5. Email Signatures
Email signatures are a branded block of text or a design that is added at the end of your emails, usually including information your contact details, or company’s web address. Having email signatures is a great way of appearing professional and reinforcing your brand presence to people you are communicating with.
This is my personal Matchstick Creative Agency email signature that is automatically attached at the bottom of my message.
6. Social Media Avatar
A social media avatar is a manifestation of your brand as an image that you can use as your profile picture on your social channels. It may seem trivial, but actually the avatar you use on social media is a really important determining factor for the way other users view your brand. Your avatar can be anything; it could be a variation of your logo, it could be an illustrated character, or it could even be a staff photo. The key is to pick something that you feel reflects your brand identity.
At Matchstick Creative we like to use our logo on top of our brand colours. This makes it easier for our audience to recognise our posts when they are scrolling quickly through their feed.
Here are my key takeaways for quick branding wins online:
- The branding never stops – Instead of thinking about branding as something you create at the conception of your business, it is much more appropriate to think of your branding as an ongoing process. Your brand will need constant maintenance throughout your business’s life.
- Consistency is key– The key to good branding is consistency. Strong brands are ones that are easily recognisable throughout their communications.
- Who is your brand? – Creating a strong brand means creating a strong brand identity. Ask yourself before all your branding activities what is your brand message, what are your brand values, what are the things your business cares about? This should give you a good framework for how you insert your branding to your online activities.
Want to know more?
You can read more about branding in my previous blog post about branding for small businesses.
Or if this doesn’t answer all your questions, you can connect with me on LinkedIn where I’ll be happy to answer any questions.