Brand Consistency: Your Business Core Values
What makes you WHO YOU ARE? Or even who you THINK you are or who you HOPE TO BE?
Decide what that is and then stick with what you learn. Building brand awareness and trust requires consistency.
It was during a walk in the woods that I was first thinking about writing this and as usual in my life of smallish uncanny phenomenon, I came down a slope to the dry creek-bed and was faced with a small group of boulders with this cairn atop the largest one (see post photo). What struck me about it was the impossibility of its balance. The shapes of the rocks were all so different from each other it seemed it would topple any moment. But somehow, even with all these seemingly distinct elements, it was organized successfully to make a tower of sameness and logic. Rock solid – with a potential for precariousness but a show of consistency. It made me think further about what we are balancing in our traverse of the landscapes of social media. How do we coalesce all the aspects of ourselves and our businesses into the representation of a single entity that makes sense and has consistency?
Similar to the rocks that make up the cairn, our parts may not seem to fit or compliment each other, but in fact, there is perfection in their imperfection. A relationship binding them together, creating an interdependence that is complex and real. When we can get in touch with the pieces, we can make a meaningful amalgamation that will serve us.
It’s Everywhere We Turn!
When it comes to brand consistency in social media, the opportunity to show up and take part is sometimes overwhelming. We are blasted with possibilities and faced with an imperative to make countless choices about where, when and how to spend our time and efforts. We have options to jump into conversations and remark on content, all the while wading through the noise looking for value and a place to add in. The volume of what’s available at all times is astounding and if we want to participate [we know we need to participate] that means we’re showing up in multiple places under multiple circumstances every day.
This increases our chances of not being consistent in how we present ourselves and represent our business. And the danger in that is palpable. We don’t want to be regarded as confusing and undependable or not genuine and enter the territory of negative trust factor. Obviously, this is not advisable.
Proceed with caution but without sacrificing flexibility.
It’s fine to experiment and to change things up but your voice, your tone, your character and your core values shouldn’t be compromised.
And What About Our Own Content We Are Producing And The Engagement That Follows From That?
This is the element in the equation that sets the stage. Small business, bigger business and even miniscule solo micro-business. We all face the same dilemma. Make careful choices for the content you share. Be clear and intentional about your purpose and always stay mindful of the brand umbrella under which you wish to stay. You want everything you create and endorse to make sense within your brand identity. It’s okay to share a certain percentage of personal posts if you are your brand (solopreneurs or micro-business owners), but even those need to enhance the overall picture of who you are and add to the familiarity, expectations and trust you are working to earn. If you are employed by a brand you are representing, this will not be appropriate and you will keep your personal activities online separate.
As any human being will likely tell you, it’s close to impossible to avoid having differing tones, moods, styles or even personas in the different areas of life yet whether you are an individual representing a brand you work for or a solopreneur representing your own brand, in order to have a strong brand presence the need to maintain consistency stands true. Be intentional.
By being consistent and having continuity, we offer our audience and customers a chance to get to know us, learn to trust us and by our actions we reveal the personality and culture of our brand. They are transparent and available to scrutiny, like and dislike. Admittedly, it’s a challenge because the temptations to stray are tremendous and it takes some discipline. If you’re anything like me, you have experienced the feeling of being pulled in all directions attracted by the bright and shiny, the deliciously educational, the deep discourse about ideas that interest you, other people’s personal posts, the relationships and the friendships that develop as we travel the wilds of social media.
In each of those interactions we might be tempted to behave a little differently, use a different tone or vocabulary, a different approach. And to a small extent, you’ll be safe allowing for those minute variations. But you still need to be perceived as you and your brand. And because you’ve invested in knowing who you are, this will come naturally. So then how do we show up as who we are when the territory and environment can vary so and even be unfamiliar to us at times? Know thyself!
How Do We Manage Brand Consistency?
You’ll need to be intimate with those core values to use as a guide along the way. Look for the patterns in your mission, goals, beliefs, behavior, your STYLE and what really matters to you and your company. It can teach you a lot. Define what you stand for, how you serve and what you do best.
- The initial purpose of starting your company, its roots and motivations
- You company values and what you stand for
- What you do
- The things that set you apart and define how you’re different from your competitors
- How you go about expressing these things
- Your brand “voice”
- Your brand “tone”: How do you come across when you speak to people in social media?
I’ll Say It Again Even Louder – Spend Time Getting To Know Yourself & Defining Your Brand
As usual, all of this points straight back to knowing who we are. If we don’t have that base to operate from; that North Star, there’s just no chance that we’re going to pull it off. We will make it impossible for our audience to get traction with us and to build new audiences.
If we don’t have the courage to look at our inner ballast, the courage to stay and be present with what’s real inside the container of our brand then we can’t extend it out to the public arena. It’s with that foundation that we have the chance to illustrate our core values and enact them, prove who we are by our actions and our words, that’s where we have the chance to earn trust, where we maintain our appropriate level of transparency and that all of it wraps up into the ball of our brand identity.
For an in-depth discussion on Aligning Core Values With Business Networking watch this HOA with Ammon Johns and ISOOSI Research Engine, David Amerland, Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales for SEOWiSE & Mani Saint-Victor.
And another valuable HOA hosted by David Amerland for Social Media Today with guests Ammon Johns and Lee Smallwood of nod3x.com “Personas & Personality in Social Media”. 30 minutes not to miss.
For an excellent article that covers all aspects of brand communication take a look at what Harriet Cummings, Copy Editor at Distilled.net, has to say in “Finding Your Brand’s Voice”.
Another excellent article “Don’t Kill Your Brand For Social Media” with actionable tips by Eli Fennell.
To see how big brands use design to create visual consistency, here is an article by Desmond Wong at HubSpot: “8 Businesses That Nail Social Media Brand Consistency”.
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Image: Gina Fiedel