Making Your Identity Work for You
An important part of any company is a cohesive brand identity. This is an area that is sorely lacking in many small businesses. Sure, their print collateral is tied to their print ads but does that design identity follow to their website? Maybe, but in most cases that is where it stops. Once people start venturing into social media they just take what they are given identity be damned and that is a huge mistake. It is important to make sure that while you are venturing into new and different areas with your marketing efforts that your brand is working for you.
Even if you have had your print identity in place for years, as you venture out into new areas it is always a good idea to take a look at everything and make sure that everything is still relevant. The one main constant with any identity is going to be your logo but you need to look at the whole package to make sure that the image you are portraying will still make sense if it is transmogrified into a different medium. Your primary concern should be with anything that might have a direct counterpart in another medium (brochure, sellsheets, ads, etc).
Marketers often fail from an identity perspective when moving to a new medium because of “shiny and new” syndrome. Often marketers abandon a well thought out identity in favor of bells and whistles associated with the shiny new toy. With as important as it is to ensure that your print identity is relevant to new mediums, it is equally important that your web identity conform to your existing standards. You can still make use of the new toys (insofar as they are relevant) but you have to temper that with the grounding of an established brand.
The most ball dropping on the identity front these days is done with social media. As I said before, some businesses have their print and web together act together but rarely do you see equally clean integration of social media. Some companies have forayed into blogging but are still using the default design settings or tired templates that have absolutely no relationship with their existing brand (assuming they have bothered ti even brand with a logo). At the same time they are using the default theme in their Twitter profile and have not taken the time to “Pimp” their Facebook fan page (and yes, it will always be a Fan page to me, but that is another post…) with as much as a logo.
These seem like very small things but when it comes to your company identity, all of the different areas really matter. If you have one look in print, a totally different look on your website and then the defaults for your social media presence, what kind of message doe that send to your client/prospect? I will tell you, it says you have no real direction and that kind of negative “vibe” can have very real effect on your bottom line.
“New” is great, and it is good to make use of everything available for marketing your company but you need to make sure that the message you are putting out there is cohesive. There is a reason why fortune 500 companies use identity guides for their marketing efforts. They are designed to ensure consistency in communication no matter who is doing it. It is all about thinking it through from the beginning and executing from a well-considered plan.
Now it is time for you to take a little stock. Line up your marketing channels and see how you fare. Are your print materials in-line with your website, have you taken the time to make sure your blog and Twitter theme are consistent with those other more established areas? If not, there is no time like the present, after all the customer you save could be your own.
It is your identity so in the immortal words or Tim Gunn, “Make it work, people!”