December 27, 2020
Most big companies nail it. When you meet a brand like Nike, no matter where that is, you always know what kind of branding you are going to get. The question is: How do you make sure your brand is consistent across all channels and is it even important?
Quite a lot has happened in branding, marketing and advertising since Don Draper drank old fashioned for breakfast and wrote taglines for cigarette companies. The biggest change, by far, is the channels: Social media, websites and smartphones have completely changed the “how”, the “when” and the “where” of reaching your target audience.
Most companies know that. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to understand the importance of a well-targeted Facebook ad or a beautiful brand film on Instagram.
But how do you tie it all together? How do you utilize all your different channels in the best way possible while making sure the brand stays consistent and true to your brand identity?
In this blog post, we’ll dive into just that.
What are the most important channels for my brand?
Let’s start with the basics: What channels do you actually need to use? There are a lot of options, but here, we’ll touch on some of the most essential ones.
Your choice of channels obviously depends on your product and your industry. If you’re a major pharmaceutical corporation, TikTok probably doesn’t need to be your biggest priority.
With that being said, quite a lot of channels can and should be used by most companies. Everyone needs a website (duh). As of right now, you can argue that everyone needs a Facebook account, too. Sure, Facebook isn’t cool anymore, but it has become such a common platform that it almost seems sort of sketchy if a company doesn’t have one (using SMS for texting isn’t cool anymore either, but you would probably be concerned if your bought a phone that wasn’t even able to send an SMS).
If you’re a B2C company, Instagram might be the best social media platform to reach your customers. It can bring a lot of value to B2B companies as well, though, either for employer branding purposes and/or to show your customers the people behind the product. Remember, even if you’re selling to companies, you’re actually selling to people - and they’re all on Instagram.
It goes the other way, too. Obviously, you need to be on LinkedIn if you’re a B2B company, but even if you’re a B2C company whose brand isn’t business at all, LinkedIn can still make sense for the more formal aspects of recruiting and employer branding. Speaking of LinkedIn, consider using your CEO’s personal profile as a channel as well. Here, you’ll be allowed to give a more personal touch on your company’s communication. You can do the same for other top-level management profiles in your company, too.
To round out The Big Four in social media, Twitter is another platform that can be used by most companies. Its format is ideal for both short, formal announcements and more personal, tongue-in-cheek communication. For some companies, like many airlines, Twitter has even become a major channel for customer support. The importance of Twitter depends a bit on geographics. US-based companies, for example, need to be on Twitter, no matter the industry or target group, while it's less of a necessity for European companies.
Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to channels. For companies with a young target audience, YouTube and Snapchat might be important tools. Google is an absolutely essential channel for all companies. Don’t count out more traditional channels such as TV and outdoor ads, either. Events are mostly online these days, but they’re still a great way to speak directly to your target group. PR is more of a method than a channel, but its value is the same as it was back when everyone was reading the Sunday paper: you gain brand awareness and trust among your target group. And so on and so on.
What is brand consistency and why is it important?
The above are some of the most important channels to use in your communication and marketing - and there are many more. So how do you tie it all together?
One essential aspect is brand consistency. In short, brand consistency means using the same tone of voice, brand messaging and visual identity across all the channels you use. It means making sure your target audience meets the exact same brand at every single touchpoint.
It’s important to stress that brand consistency isn’t just using the same logo and colors on different channels. Rather, it’s establishing a deeply embedded brand DNA and letting it show across all channels and all your communication, even in ways that aren’t obvious to the audience.
The content and format of what you’re communicating should, of course, be tailored to each channel. It rarely makes sense to post about Friday bars on LinkedIn or sharing long, technical blog posts on Instagram. But the tone and the brand identity should be the same whenever you share something for the outside world to see.
To gain true brand consistency, your brand should, at least to some extent, reflect the culture and the actual values of your company. In essence, branding is external. But because your brand identity is so vital to all the communication and marketing you do, it’s close to impossible to completely separate your external and internal identity. Aligning your culture with your brand makes brand consistency easier and better because your brand identity becomes more authentic.
How can brand channels complement each other?
Besides identifying your most important channels and establishing brand consistency across them all, you also need to define what type of content you’ll actually communicate on each of them. We won’t touch on that here, though, as that’s for another blog post about content strategies and content planning. But what we will do before signing off is to quickly touch on how the content of all channels can complement each other.
You should approach all channels as part of a collective communication and marketing effort. Each channel is a different tool but it’s all part of the same toolbox. A Facebook post isn’t just a Facebook post - it’s a piece of content that you choose to share on Facebook because the content makes sense for that channel. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shared on other channels, too. Just make sure to adjust the content to each channel.
If you produce a brand film, upload it to your website. Then cut it down to a shorter version and share it on Instagram and Facebook. Then write a personal post about the values of your company and how they are being shown in your new brand film and share it on your CEO’s LinkedIn profile.
If a media outlet writes a story about you, make a Facebook ad sharing the link to the article. Then go to the media outlet’s Twitter account and join the discussion in the comment section from your company’s own Twitter account.
And so on.
In short, the way you handle your channels can make or break your communication and marketing effort. You should treat them as such - carefully pick the right ones; make sure your brand DNA is visible on them all but adjust your content to fit each unique channel; and make sure they complement each other and work well together.