If there’s one thing to take from lessons on branding, it’s this: consistency is the key to success. I maintain a few social media sites, and have accounts with a few others that don’t get used much/anymore. Those I use most often, in the public eye, all fall under one set of branding images.
Each site contains the same key elements: a matching profile picture (which will change simultaneously across all platforms whenever I feel like updating it), a set colour-scheme (orange and white, for me, because they’re often underused, but stand out pretty well), my name/username (site depending – more on that later), and the same pattern of pencil, speaker, drama masks and camera.
Across Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, I have the same type of branding applied. I also tend to make the same sorts of bad jokes, and talk about the same sort of things that excite me. Each one is as likely to be able comic books or Irish folklore or writing as the other, and each other helps supports the audience development of the others.
The differences in each image come down to the fact that every social media platform has different requirements for image dimensions. Facebook prefers a thinner image, and positions the profile picture in such a way that anything in the lower left corner cannot be seen. Twitter prefers a wider image, and YouTube a wider one still, which presents an issue with a repeating pattern like the one I use.
The branding that I apply to my social media is also, by no mere accident, the branding I applied to my business cards. (Actually, the cards came first, but that’s a moot point.) In case someone can’t put a name to a specific face at an event, if they happen to have my card in their pocket (among dozens of others) my social media links will all allow someone to find my profile with an identical picture on each one.
While I’m not orange in person, if they see the face and remember that I was the one they were talking to – confirmed immediately by the matching branding across the social media sites and my business cards – then there’s a good chance that conversation can continue without any awkward re-introductions. (Hey, I’ve been there. Both sending the message, and being awkward in doing so.)
As well as making it easier for people to recognise you without a doubt across your social media, consistency in branding images looks significantly more professional than having a mismatched set of banners online.
Some things to take into consideration:
1. Some designs don’t translate well to print. Before I had my current business cards (we don’t talk about the old ones anymore; they weren’t, as the kids say, ‘on fleek’), I used a cream and grey banner for my YouTube, Twitter and Facebook accounts. By all accounts, it was okay. Just that. When it came to getting new cards printed up, I wanted to liven up my brand, and to match my cards with my plans for my website design. (The cards and website all rushed into production with the first BLOGGERCONF coming up!) The old design would have resulted in a flat, dull business card that didn’t say much about who I was, and was likely to go missing.
2. If you have someone designing your branding for you, you’ll need more than one image to use online. As I’ve noted above, different social media platforms require different image sizes. Rather than crop an image to fit, it’s better to have a design that fits into the framework of each platform. Depending on your design, you may need to have certain elements rearranged for each platform, to make the most of how users see the image. Remember that on different devices – from desktop and mobile to television and tablet – there can be some variety in how an image is viewed. It’s best to check out the required dimensions before sending off for work to be done, so your designer knows what to expect. (YouTube in particular has several different sizes for different devices. All the info you need for it can be found in the Support section on Google.)
3. Your branding should be unique to you. Have you ever looked at a business card, website, or social media platform and thought, ‘I wish mine looked like that’? I imagine a lot of people would say yes to that, especially if they’re thinking about branding or re-branding in the near future. I’m going to state the obvious here, to prevent any confusion: no matter how much you like something, you don’t want to have your version look identical. When I turned on the television recently, the Kardashians were discussing their new websites. One had gone for a white design. The others liked it. Another told the web designer they were all working with that she also wanted white. Now, my lack of interest in the specifics relating to the Kardashians aside, there’s a bit of an issue here: I couldn’t tell you which one of them was which, and because of their decisions to mimic each others’ styling and branding, I probably wouldn’t be able to quickly remember which website belonged to which sister, either. Yes, there are common colours used by similar sites and fields of study/interest. How we implement those colours, however, is a completely different ballgame. By all means, create a mood board to reflect your desires for your own designs, but don’t allow it to become anything more than inspiration. You’ll only be forgotten for your work, otherwise.
Tomorrow, we’ll be exploring branding further, taking lessons from old media to bolster your new media needs.