A life without any surprises would be dull. However, when it comes to branding, consistency is everything. Suppose you saw a McDonald’s restaurant without Golden Arches. In that case, you might keep on driving until you found another restaurant you recognize. And, if you ate a Big Mac on vacation, you would expect your burger to look and taste the same as it does at home.
Brands like McDonald’s go to great lengths to ensure a consistent experience in all their restaurants. McDonald’s advertising and recipes vary in some countries to cater to local tastes and cultural sensitivities, but the core elements of the experience remain consistent, and people are “lovin’ it” right across the globe.
So, what does a burger have to do with brand consistency on social media? Well, on-brand social media posts will all carry the same branding and message. However, post content will vary slightly to suit each platform. Users will immediately recognize and trust the brand on any platform, even if the content is somewhat different. Here are ten tips to help you ensure that your brand message is as consistent as a Big Mac across all social media platforms.
1. Define Your Brand Persona and Message
You cannot stay on-brand if you have no idea what your brand represents. So, first, identify your target audience, and then develop a brand personality that will appeal to that audience. For example, is your brand playful, serious, or sympathetic? Are your products exclusive, high-quality, or value for money? The format and content of posts may vary across social media platforms. But the personality and overriding message must stay the same. A person whose character and opinions change according to who they are talking to would appear disingenuous. If your core brand message differs across social media platforms, people will think the same applies to your business.
2. Get the Basics Right
Your logo is the face of your business; it is what makes your brand recognizable. So, ensure that you use the same logo on all your social media accounts. Be careful about image sizing when you upload logos, too. If your image’s shape does not match that of the profile picture, your logo could get stretched. It will also help people identify your brand if you use the colors and fonts wherever you can. And use the same cover image if the platform allows one. Remember, you can recognize a McDonald’s whether it is located in a shiny new mall or a prestigious 100-year-old building.
3. Develop a Brand Guidelines Document
The best way to ensure that employees stick to your brand identity is to have a formal brand guideline document. Typically, a brand guideline will include which logos are to be used in various situations. There will be color and typography guidelines. And the guide will also specify the tone and voice to be adopted in any written content. Your brand guidelines will help ensure continuity of brand personality, even if you change personnel. The brand guidelines will also help ensure branding consistency in other materials and media, including advertising, packaging, and correspondence.
4. Focus on the Platforms that Are Right for Your Brand
One of the most common social media mistakes businesses make is they spread themselves too thin. It is challenging to retain brand consistency when you are posting on 20 or more sites every day. Each of the various social media platforms also attracts different audiences. For example, according to Sprout Social, the largest age group using Twitter is 30-49. The largest age group using TickTock is 18-24. It would be better to focus your efforts on a few platforms that attract your target audience rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
5. Assign a Social Media Manager or Team
It is best to assign one person to manage your social media marketing. If volume makes it necessary, use the same team of people to write and post social media content. You want to avoid everyone having access to your accounts, posting whatever they feel is appropriate. So, try not to allow managing your social media management to become the job that anyone free at the time does. If you want to retain brand consistency on social media, you need to have a consistent team working with a plan.
6. Create a Posting Schedule
Try to avoid posting to social media accounts on an ad-hoc basis. If you do, you will lose the flow of the message you are trying to convey, and you will be more likely to go off-brand. Schedule posts in advance so that you can develop themes and reinforce messages. Take time to consider what you are posting and the impact that each post will have on your audience. You might change lanes on your social media journey. But, if you don’t have a route map, you could easily make a wrong turn and get lost, along with the people who are following you.
7. Avoid Gimmicks
The chances of one of your social media posts going viral are slim, and, if a post does go viral, the extra attention it creates will be very short-lived and could be damaging to your brand. So, try to avoid the common mistake of following the latest social media trends in the hope of gaining more views, shares, and likes. If the topic is not relevant to your brand, it will not benefit your business anyway. You will get better results from social media marketing if you take the long view. Focus on building relationships and trust rather than gaining a short-lived boost in interactions.
8. Maintain Quality Across Platforms
A consistent level of quality in social media posts is just as important as a consistent look and feel. So, pay attention to grammar, spelling, and layout, even in the short-form content. And use high-quality images, graphics, and videos across all platforms. What you post on your social media accounts affects people’s perception of your brand. If your social media posts are inconsistent and low-quality, people will wonder if you apply the same lack of care to your products.
9. Adjust the Tone to Suit the Platform
As mentioned above, McDonald’s Big Mac ingredients are slightly different in some countries to suit the local tastes. The same approach should be adopted in social media posts. What works well on Twitter will not always be suitable for Facebook. So, try to avoid posting the same content across all platforms. Use automation tools with care. Automating posts will save time, but it increases the temptation to disregard the importance of adjusting the content to suit the audience. The branding and message should be the same regardless of platform, but the content may be subtly different to fit the medium and the demographics of the platform’s users.
10. Be Authentic
You need to be true to your brand across all platforms. People will soon see through you if you are not authentic. Your brand personality, values, and beliefs should shape everything you post on social media and dictate which types of posts you like and share. It will help if you think about your brand as an individual with a personality. A person who advocates urgent action to slow global warming, for example, is unlikely to share a post advertising a car with a V8 petrol engine. Likewise, it wouldn’t be too clever if a vegan food brand retweeted a McDonald’s Big Mac special offer.
Brand consistency on social media is essential for building trust and creating loyalty. So, define and document your brand. Limit the people in your organization who have access to your social media accounts. And remember, it is not only your logo that creates consistency across the various platforms. The tone and quality of your posts are also crucial elements of the personality of your brand.