We all know that social media is the emerging trend for individuals and organisations who are interested in personal branding, corporate branding, sales and marketing, reputation and crisis management, as well as a great platform to make one known to the world.
However, few understand that visual communications work best in online platforms and even fewer possess the expertise to translate relevant and impactful images to their social media for maximum exposure and impact.
Things get even more complex when there are several social media tools to work with. Consider a company with a website, LinkedIn account, a Facebook page, a Twitter URL, a blog website with RSS feeds as well as a mailing list.
How does one reconcile all these social media websites for the organisation with continual updates and a consistent image?
Many feel that words are the key to consistent branding but this is actually not the case. On the contrary, images and photos are what moves the crowd.
Yes, words must be consistent – especially those that describe a personal/corporate vision and mission statements.
However, all if not most online platforms are mostly visual mediums (with Pinterest among the most obvious) and most audiences are mostly visual (especially the younger generations who grow up with the internet and all its complementary partners such as Youtube, Vimeo etc).
Below are four techniques to make your brand stand out visually among the online media clutter:
1. Brand with consumers’ recognisable elements
Companies have a tendency to use logos (usually with one or two colours) for their branding. Colors and shapes represents the organisation’s dominant traits. This technique has proven to be very successful for some companies.
However, think about it. There are only so many places that logos can be placed, such as door gifts, table tops, public and vehicular transports etc.
While this may seem impressive, what if one shifts one’s thinking and brand their companies using daily, commonly used objects by their consumers?
For instance, for an aromatherapy company, they can use a particular type of tree commonly seen in their consumer’s residential areas and/or working districts as their branding image (instead of a logo). Wouldn’t this image be even more impactful than a mere logo?
Trees are part of nature and associates closely with the company’s products while at the same time, their consumers see them all the time. This is but one example of how common objects make for better branding than logos.
Logos may be representative of a company but it’s the consumers’ high exposure to commonly seen objects (used in a company’s advertisements) which they associate with the company brand that will boost the company’s sales and keep it in business.
2. Creating memorable shapes with letters, words and numbers
Most would find images and photos more visually appealing than letters and words. While this may be true to a certain degree, there are some industries that appeal better to their potential customers with letters, words and numbers, such as the banking sector and accounting firms. In such cases, the design element has to be integrated within the text, and not the other way round.
One way to do this would be to arrange the letters, words and numbers into shapes. I have personally entered a writing competition and submitted a story. The entire story was written on a single page with the text shaped like a heart, and won a prize. I assume that most contestants wrote the story in a usual format. Sometimes, adding a creative touch to your writing can do wonders to the allure of your text and advertising.
So, let your letters, words and numbers dance on your media kits, blogs and other social media that you own.
It’s often the parts that make up the whole, just like the image used for this blog post above.
3. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
In the world of study and work, nothing beats simplification with efficiency. It is the same with branding and advertising.
Cheeky taglines and slogans are all well and good when it comes to describing what one is promoting but the most important thing is the person (when it comes to personal branding) or the organisation (when it comes to corporate branding). So why not promote the name itself?
The name is the brand.
The products and services are its ambassadors.
Think about it. If products has no logos on it, would customers be able to associate it with its company? Probably not. What if one is shown a name of an established company? All types of products and/or services associated with the company will emerge in their minds. This is the power of mental imprints on the minds through repetitive advertising.
A logo or a daily objects (as recommended above) are merely extension arms of the brands.
Consider this. If products and services are more important than brands, then all products and services – with aggressive marketing and advertising – should sell extremely well. But this is not the case. It’s more often than not, the brand that sells the products and services. So, why not focus on the brand itself?
Most copy writing revolves around new products and services, expecting them to push the brand. This usually works well for renowned brands. As for new brands trying to penetrate the competitive market, it would be great to reverse the order and have copy writing focused exclusively on the brand, thereby using the brand to push the products and services.
Some new companies confuse the two by reversing the order in their advertisements and often wonder why their market outreach is not expanding.
Some food for thought.
4. Offer something useful and convenient to your newsletter subscribers
There are numerous companies who aggressively market to their mailing list subscribers offers, discounts, introduction of their new products, promotion of mega sales etc. While this may be enticing to customers in the initial phases, receiving them on a weekly (or even monthly basis) is probably going to bore them or worse, cluster their mail boxes with tons of similar marketing mailing lists. Some email providers have started filtering out such emails and some of such emails may even be automatically thrown into the potential customers’ spam folders.
Much as profit-driven businesses is about driving sales, there must be a need on the part of the customers in order for them to patronise one’s businesses. This is the primary reason why the response rates for mailing lists and cold calls through telemarketing are often low (usually below 10%).
Therefore, instead of asking for sales from customers, why not provide an article of interest (that is related to your products and/or services) to them instead on a weekly or monthly basis? In this way, customers learn something useful and when the need arises, the first company they think of will be yours.
I used to subscribe to the newsletter (they don’t even call it “mailing list”) of “Real Simple” (they produce hard copy magazines as well, by the way). There are no frills in their newsletters. I am not pressured to purchase anything from the website. It contains mostly quotes, daily tips and articles. The newsletter is well-designed and uncluttered, enabling readers to understand what are on it with just one glance.
I have just made a recent visit to the newsletter section and realise that subscribers are now able to choose what information they want from the website. As promised by their marketing slogan, it’s indeed “Life made easier”.
Another impressive website is Wiley.com, where subscribers are able to select the fields they are interested in prior to subscribing to their email list. World Scientific offers a similar newsletter format to their subscribers. It is essential for companies offering substantial amount of products to categorise their products to avoid confusing or overloading their subscribers with irrelevant and redundant information through their newsletters.
As can be observed, the publishing industry is a significant example.
Make your newsletters useful and convenient for your customers and you will impress them.