How To Avoid A Social Media Brand Identity Crisis (Social Brand ID Template)

Many organizations have brand identity guidelines for designers, art directors and writers in traditional media. Yet social media professionals operate in a less static more personal medium. They need an extension of these standards that recognizes the more personal, conversational, social aspect of marketing in social media. In this new medium brands are acting like and interacting with people. Because of this I have created a model for social media brand identity with elements drawn from the concept of personal identify in psychology and social identity theory. You can use the template below to develop your Brand Social ID that will help to guide the visual and written brand narrative told through brand social media channels.

Free social media brand identify templateIn psychology, Identity (ID) is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and expressions that make a person or group. In this case, your Brand is acting as a person so you first want to assign it a Personal Identity made up of these elements. Then identify the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and expressions that make up your Buyer’s Identity (ID). Obviously, these should be compatible. They don’t have to be an exact match, but there should be enough connections to form an attraction like in a real personal relationship – the social aspect. Psychologists describe personal identity as the things that make a person unique while, sociologists describe social identity as the collection of group memberships that help define the individual. Brands that become communities can become one of the memberships that help define their audience or buyers.

When social media strategist and content marketing creators understand these two Personal IDs they can form a bond through consistent visual and written story told in the social media channels where their buyers are active. Psychologists believe stories are fundamental to social interaction so these meeting places and exchanges will begin to form connections. Micro connections through the narratives customized to each social channel overtime establishes a group Social Identity built around brand community. When you connect and co-develop stories with your buyers in this way the Group Social ID can build strong brand loyalty. Perhaps this connection could grow to become “loyalty beyond reason” as Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi calls brands that are Lovemarks. It seems that we keep rediscovering and have to remind ourselves of the power of stories in a business context.

This Brand Social ID model follows a three-step process explained in social identity theory (illustrated at the bottom of the template). Social Identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group memberships. The groups people belong to are an important source of pride and self-esteem giving them a feeling of belonging. To increase self-image people are motivated to enhance the status of the group. To do this they Categorize groups, Identify with one and then Compare and favor that group over others in the same category. This can happen in many ways including abilities (artistic versus scientific), design preference (contemporary versus country), team loyalty (Eagles versus Cowboys), and brands (Apple versus Microsoft).

A Brand’s Social ID should be informed by the organization’s vision, mission and goals to make up the personal identity of the brand. What are the distinctive characteristics or attributes of the brand? These make up a brand’s Qualities. What are the opinions or convictions of the organization that instill confidence, faith and trust in employees, investors and customers? These are brand Beliefs. What organized pattern of behavior would best convey the character of the brand? This is brand Personality. Are there important visual elements of the brand such as colors, logos, fonts, image style? These are visual components that make up brand Look. How would you describe brand voice or manner and form of words and phrases in written communication? This is brand Expression. Finally, capture main offerings as explicit proposals to specified people. These are brand Offers.

The Buyer Social ID is similar, yet from a slightly different perspective. This is informed by the target audience’s personal vision, values, mission and goals in a business to consumer context (B2C) or informed by their organization’s vision, values, mission and goals in a business to business context (B2B). Describe the distinctive characteristics and attributes of the person (Qualities), the things they feel are good, right or valuable (Beliefs), signs of their character or patterns of behavior (Personality), favored qualities in style and appearance (Look), and preferred manner or form of communication (Expression). Capture the clear requirements that are necessary or very important to this buyer (Needs). Often needs come out of complications, obstacles or pain points that cause tension. Building your brand narrative around these and positioning your products and services as a solution to release that tension can be very powerful. I suggest following a Five Act formula that my colleague and I have found to be effective in Super Bowl Ads and Viral Marketing Videos. If you have a completed a buyer persona this could be helpful in completing the Buyer Social ID.

Does your Brand Social ID match your Buyer Social ID? If these are significantly off in key areas you many have to adjust the personality elements of the brand. Or perhaps you need to realign your target market to buyer’s who have more elements in common with the brand. As brand social media strategist and content creators follow this Social Media Brand ID they will help the consumer move through the three-step socialization process. The brand narrative in social media will lead potential customers into Categorizing the brand personality and offering, Identify as belonging to the brand community, and as a member of that social group start to compare the brand favorably over competitors. Having a Brand Social ID will help to guide all social media content creation and buyer engagements setting a standard of authentic brand communication. It should serve as guardrails in keeping social talk “on brand” and out of social media identity crisis.

Have you thought about brand social media identities or translating your current brand identify guidelines into brand social media standards? Do you find this template helpful? How else could brands approach this?Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.

Visualize Your Marketing Strategy To Form A Solid Foundation For All Marketing Communication.

Social media actions and even plans can exist on their own, but without having an understanding of the marketing and business behind them, they could be acting in vain. Even communication focused disciplines such as advertising and public relations now acknowledge the need for broader marketing and business knowledge. Incite’s State of Corporate Social Media report of global corporate social media professionals found that 90% say social media is an important part of their marketing strategy and 80% say that social media is an important part of their business strategy.

To help understand how social media fits into the bigger picture of marketing and business I have created a visual template for a basic marketing strategy that emphasizes the consumer perspective. This template can help improve social media efforts by providing an understanding of the larger marketing and business perspective. It can help you speak the language of business.

To be honest most C-Suite executives probably don’t care about followers and engagement rates. To get approval and funding for social strategies you need to translate social media action into broader business goals such as sales, market share, awareness, customer retention, leads, etc. The template can also help create a new marketing plan or help plan the marketing piece for a startup. See below, but also download a free PDF here.visualmarketingstrategytemplate-blankVision/Mission: Why do you exist? To make money is not a sustainable answer for employees or customers. What does the company behind the product/service stand for and where are you headed? Think: solving a greater problem, spreading a bigger message, supporting a cause, community, the environment or being the absolute best at something specific.

Back Story: People buy for rational and emotional reasons that can come from your origin story. Show your human side of starting in a garage, using your last $5, making a childhood dream come true, an event that put the cause on your heart, something you couldn’t get as a customer, happy accident, etc. Even big companies showcase their humble roots.

Business Objectives: All marketing action must help support business needs such as sales, average spend, market share, leads, contracts, awareness, customer satisfaction, retention, referrals, volunteers, donations, etc. To do this a marketing plan must start with those specific objectives clearly defined. Make sure they are SMART: Specific (quantified such as XX% or $XX), Measurable (data you can access), Achievable (not too high), Relevant (support vision/mission), Timely (due date like X months or X years).

Products/Services: List product and service offerings, lines and versions. Describe them from the consumer’s perspective turning product/service features into consumer benefits. Look for gaps in product lines and offerings from your company, but also competitors. You may need to return to this section after industry, target market and competitor analysis.

The next section focuses on situation analysis, with important areas such as industry, competitors and target market plus elements of the marketing mix or Four Ps. The important part is converting everything to the consumer’s perspective and summarize by answering the customer centric question in each section.

Industry Overview: Is the industry/category growing or declining? What innovations and trends are important? Are there gaps in offerings? What do consumers care about most? What are their pain points? Threats? Opportunities? Sum this up by answering the question, “What is their unmet need?”

Target Market: Clearly define the group most likely to have this need with demographic (gender, age, income, education), psychographic (attitudes, values, lifestyle) and behavioral (products used, brand loyalty, usage) bases. From this answer the question, “Who needs it the most?”

Key Competitors: Identify several top competitors by market share/sales in same industry and/or by replacement products/services outside the category. What do you offer that is different? With this understanding summarize, “Why should they pick you?”

Distribution Channels: What are the convenient ways the consumer can get the product/service: A single channel or multiple channels; Your own or through partners like retailers or brokers; Online or physical store? Try to determine, “Where do they want it?”

Pricing Strategy: Will the consumer pay a premium or look for the lowest price? Do they want to pay per month for access or all at once? Do they need a free version or trial? What forms of payment do they prefer? From this answer, “What will they pay for it?”

Main Message: Try to summarize all the information above into a positioning statement written to the target market. You can follow a template like this, “For the <target consumer> who <state need>, the <product/category> provides <state benefit>, unlike <primary competitor>, the <product> <state difference>.” Boil it all down to answer, “How would you say all this to them in one sentence?”

From here the decision is what consumer touchpoints need to be used to communicate or promote this message to the target consumers. Or from the consumer perspective, “How will they experience this message?”

Advertising: Do paid messages in traditional media such as TV, print, radio, outdoor, newspaper, or local school programs, stadium signs, FSIs, etc. fit your target’s media use and your budget?

Public Relations: Can you make it newsworthy? Earn media coverage from journalist/bloggers, create events, conferences, speeches and publish brand newsletters/magazines for consumer, employee, and community relations.

Digital Marketing: How will they find it online? Start with a user centered website optimized for search (SEO), then consider search ads, content marketing, blogging, email, online ads, video, affiliate and mobile marketing.

Social Media: Where is the target audience active in social media? Look at social networks, blogs/forums, apps, ratings/reviews and podcasts. Look for ways to leverage geo-location, crowdsourcing, influencer marketing, social care, user generated content and native ads.

Direct Response: Consider direct to consumer calls to action in postcards, letters, fliers, catalogs, email, texts (SMS), TV (infomercials), radio and newspaper. Collect or purchase databases of email and/or physical addresses.

Sales Promotion: What special offers could get your target to buy, try or rebuy? Consider discounts, samples, gifts/premiums, coupons, vouchers, competitions, sweepstakes, joint promotions and special financing.

Personal Sales: High involvement products/services may require a salesperson for prospecting, customization of offerings to meet specific needs, demonstration/trial and after sale service to maintain lasting relationships.

Customer Relationship Management: CRM uses databases/software to build long-term relationships with customers for retention, extension and acquisition with special communication, services/offers and rewards often through loyalty programs.

When the forms of communication come together you want to ensure all marketing communication is integrated in message, tone and look (IMC). The final considerations have to do with time and money.

Time Table: Provide a time frame for implementation of marketing recommendations. Some functions must happen before others such as product development, pricing and distribution then promotion. Types of promotion such as Digital, PR, Social Media, Sales and Advertising must happen in a specific order.

Budget: The marketing budget can be determined by one of the following methods: All You Can Afford (what’s left over), Percentage of Sales (% of projected/past sales, consider industry standards), Match the Competition (spend what main competitors spend), Objective/Task (calculate what it will take to meet objectives).

As Philip Kotler says, “You should never go to battle before you’ve won the war on paper.” Whether you are a marketer creating a new marketing strategy for an existing company, an entrepreneur planning the marketing function for a startup or a social pro improving your business intelligence to have a greater understanding of the marketing and business behind an organization this visual marketing strategy should serve as a useful guide.