Today’s guest post is written by Heidi Cohen.
Today’s multi-platform, device-indifferent, connected world requires 360 degree branding.
By increasing the value of the products, companies, and people they represent, brands are an essential element of PR.
Whether you’re working with a B2B, B2C, non-profit, or are a solopreneur, the brand must be consistently represented online and off.
Social media and content marketing offer a wide range of media formats beyond text including photographs, videos, audio, presentations, and real life events. As a result, a well-rounded view of your brand often extends beyond an organization or individual’s brand guidelines.
To present a 360 degree view of your brand, use one (or a combination) of these seven elements.
- Visual signs. These attention-grabbing symbols must be carefully considered especially in photographs, videos, and live events that may appear on social media and other online locations. Traditionally including logos, design, and color usage, think broadly to encompass visual cues such as clothes. How are your people dressed? Are they in suits or casual clothes? Further, if it’s an event with attendees, how does the audience mix reflect on your brand?
- Audio sounds. What sounds are associated with your brand? Do you have an audio logo like Microsoft Windows? What noise is in the background where you are presenting? Are you on the factory floor, in the middle of city traffic, or in the country with birds chirping? Each portrays a different image for your audience.
- Spokesperson. Who represents your brand? Is it a key executive, another employee (like the social media or customer service manager), a celebrity, fictional character (like Progressive Insurance’s Flo), or a consumer? Do you consistently use the same person or does it vary based on the event or forum? How do you convey this person’s authority to the public?
- Language. Today’s social media world requires your brand to sound like a real person, not like unintelligible corporate gibberish. Do you have your own special language? For example, Starbucks has its own lingo for coffee drinks. From a corporate communications perspective, in what languages does your message need to be delivered? If multiple languages are required, who will check the accuracy and usage especially where nuances are involved? Here’s help with internationization.
- Environment. Where will you message be delivered? Think in terms of what the surroundings look like and how it will affect your message. Does the brand or event require a special location? Are you in your factory, at an event community project you’re sponsoring, at corporate headquarters or from someone’s computer? Beyond the messages you’re crafting within your organization, don’t overlook your association with events in the form of sponsorships, local community, and industry conferences where the context may affect your brand in terms of look and association.
- Media. Which media platforms do you want your message distributed through? Think broadly to include own, third party, and social media. To the extent you have control, where do you want to build an audience? Are these platforms online or offline? Who owns the content? Do you have a right to redistribute or publish it? Don’t assume that just because it’s on the Internet you can use it. Assess how you can extend the content’s reach via your owned media platforms including your website, email list, and blog.
- Proof. Given that consumers don’t trust advertising, what brand-related proof can you offer prospects to persuade them to buy from your organization? This translates to word of mouth and reviews. Often this references difficult to measure, one-on-one interactions such as customer service. On review sites, how people talk about your brand can be more important than what they say specifically.
It’s difficult to control your brand’s 360 degree attributes on today’s diverse platforms. Therefore, establish a set of guidelines and modify them as appropriate. Given social media and content marketing’s evolution, your brand will probably appear in new forums and in ways you never anticipated; what’s critical is ensuring it’s consistent and recognized in a positive way.
What would you add to this list and why?
Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. She increases profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights as chief content officer of HeidiCohen.com. You can find her on Twitter @HeidiCohen.