In this opinion piece, Grant Munro (pictured below), senior vice president of Shutterstock Custom, identifies four key building blocks to developing a consistent brand identity.
All brands have a unique story to tell and it’s up to today’s marketers to become interesting multimedia storytellers to differentiate themselves. In the shift from traditional marketing forms like television commercials and billboards, the way marketers are expected to reach their audiences has expanded significantly. But the fundamental concept remains unchanged: a brand’s visual identity is constructed from what it presents to its customers.
Visual content is arguably the most compelling format for storytelling, and therefore brands must invest in having a well-established visual identity to help their content resonate with target demographics and stand out from their competitors. In today’s cluttered media environment where over two billion photos are uploaded to social media daily, creating and maintaining a consistent visual identity isn’t as simple as it used to be.
We’ve moved on from just having to adhere to a ‘brand bible’ that dictates the guidelines for logos, fonts, mood and tone for all branded materials. Now, marketers have to monitor volume, variety, and frequency when creating visual assets across a constantly growing range of customer touchpoints. Brands must maintain multiple social feeds, often in multiple languages and regions, and continually populate them with engaging, on-brand content in order to stay top of mind among their customers.
As brand consistency takes centre-stage, those that leverage the right technology tools and follow the four key building blocks to help scale their branded content will find the most success:
- It’s all about the platform
One of the greatest struggles marketers have is focusing on the right platform for their brand. Modern consumers are savvy and can easily identify content that looks out of place. It’s therefore vital that marketers ensure their content fits the platform on which they’re posting. A vertical Snapchat-style video will most likely not suit a tweet or vice versa.
- Learn from your audience
Marketers have a responsibility to invest in understanding their target market. By consistently analysing audience insight data, marketers will be able to learn more about their customers beyond basic demographics. Additional data has the potential to transform a brand’s ability to connect with customers through its content, leading to higher engagement. Marketers can learn more nitty-gritty details from how customers respond to social posts and use these platforms to test what works well in relation to timing and content (e.g. whether whimsical and fun imagery yields higher engagement over more pointed and motivational imagery). By leveraging the right tools for data insights, brands can then create more relevant content that reaches their target demographics at the best times and locations.
- Study your competitors
Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing is also extremely important. Marketers must do their due diligence while objectively analysing what content they are pushing out – from visual style and copy to the volume of content and timing – to distinguish the factors they can employ to keep their brand unique. Brands don’t want to be homogenous and marketers must understand what their competitors are doing to create interesting, unique content across platforms.
We’ve seen Australian brands be successful when it comes to using imagery to position themselves differently to competitors across industries. For example, popular Australian eateries Chin Chin and Gelato Messina use Instagram as a medium to reach their customers but through dramatically different types of content. While Chin Chin posts numerous flat lays of their food filled with vibrant colours, Gelato Messina focuses on close-up shots with their gelato at the centre of many of their posts, allowing consumers to clearly differentiate between the brands, keeping their visual content unique.
- Be aligned
The final tenet for brands to develop consistent brand identities is aligning their visual content across platforms. There has to be a sense of cohesion that goes beyond font and a colour scheme to develop real connections with their customers. Consistency is key for brand recall to ensure customers can easily identify brands at a glance.
Building a brand’s visual identity is no easy task, but ultimately, it’s one of the most important assets brands can use to establish loyalty and ultimately boost their top line. As brand marketing continues to evolve in this digital era, it’s become vital that marketers take advantage of the right tools such as machine learning technology, which can help marketers maintain brand alignment and consistency across platforms.