We Must Protect This Brand
It’s okay to go for variety when you’re picking out your outfit. It’s okay to go for variety when you’re deciding what to make for dinner. It’s okay to go for variety in your dating life.
In a lot of places variety makes sense, it’s smart even.
Branding is different.
In order to create one solid image throughout your customer base, and continue to maintain that image, consistency is critical. A brand will only fracture itself by introducing new “personalities” in each of the spaces it occupies a presence.
If you’re not consistent then your customers have to meet you and get to know you all over again. Not to mention finding you in these spaces turns out to be a lot harder. It turns into a game of ‘50 First Dates’. But trust me – unlike romantic comedies, all does not end well.
Now this is not to say you shouldn’t evolve your brand over time. That is not what I’m talking about. What I am talking about is at one point in time is your brand presenting a united front to its customers in a platform agnostic way? A company’s brand is a very valuable asset and as a social media practitioner it is your responsibility to protect it in the social space. Here are three ways to do just that.
Develop A Style Guide
Chances are you are not the only voice of your company in the social arena. If you consider your customer service team part of your voice in the social space (which I’d strongly argue their proximity at least warrants consideration) then you’re definitely not alone.
How many voices, personalities and tones does that make? 2? 20? More? Each of these people are acting on behalf of the company but they’re doing it via interpretation. Unless you have outlined a style guide for communication then everything they do will be their interpretation of the brand, and their ideas of how the brand would communicate and respond.
In developing this guide consider all of the touch points your brand has. Also consider the wide variety of situations that your representatives would encounter. Use the style guide to lay out your brand’s personality, tone, voice and methods of interaction. Inform the tone of communication with this document. Build this out right and it will become an invaluable resource both for training purposes but also as a reference guide for those individuals continually interacting with your audience.
Beauty Is Not Only On The Inside
Humans have always used visual queues to organize information, but this propensity becomes even stronger as we are exposed to increasing amounts of content online. Our attention spans are shrinking. Not just yours and mine. Your customers are too.
The visual queues that we’ve always relied on are more important than ever before. Walking through a crowded shopping center you can bet your sweet bippy that I can sort through all of the visual clutter and find the Victoria’s Secret in a hot second. It takes me even less time to find a Sephora.
Why? It could be my inner compass. Sure. But I’d argue rather that they have developed a very strong brand visually speaking. They use the high contrast elements in their logo and other creative and use all of the graphic elements consistently. You will never see one of these brands varying their presentation in even the slightest. Be them. Be striking. Be consistent. Be memorable and instantly recognizable in all of your locations whether they be brick and mortar, print, or digital.
Mark Your Territory. Virtually.
I’m constantly surprised by how many people I hear talking about troubles they have with brand squatters on social media sites. I’m not surprised that it happens. But I am surprised people allow it to happen. That’s right. Allow.
It is insanely easy to reserve and protect your brand’s name in the social media space. Using a service like Know.em all you have to do is go type-clickity-clickity-clack your brand name in to check what holes you have left in your armor.
Then register and the magical leprechauns behind the curtain do the rest for you. If you leave yourself open in this area you run the risk of someone grabbing your brand name and either squatting on it, or worse using it maliciously. Once your branded account name is in someone else’s hands it isn’t necessarily impossible to get back – but it becomes exponentially more difficult. Especially in cases where the brand does not have a right to it any more than the person currently holding it. BMW is a perfect example of this in my mind.
Be The Squeaky Wheel
Keeping track of things internally is just as important as what is going on externally. Regular meetings of all of your social touch point managers should be scheduled and ongoing. Even if they are just update meetings. Likely all of these people are not on the same team so there may not be an organizational way for them to keep in touch. Make that happen. Set up cross-silo meetings. Stick to them. Make sure appropriate stakeholders are included.
While you are at it – develop a central depository of social account information. Include account passwords, log-ins of course. But also include the people that have access to these accounts.
If someone leaves the company you need to be aware of what access they’re taking with them. Do regular audits of this information in conjunction with your HR team to ensure that part of the exit process is to evaluate the person’s previous levels of access. If they were a Facebook page admin, remove them immediately. If they had access to the Twitter account, change the password post haste. Yes, post haste.
Essentially, developing a sense of who and what your brand is both in terms of personality and visually is important. Implementing these things consistently and managing them deliberately going forward will help maintain your success and continue to grow the value of your brand.