Nick Patchitt

The brand challenge of social media

Nick Patchitt
The brand challenge of social media

Written by Owen Moralee, Senior Designer

As the world communicates, sells, and generally engages more and more across a myriad of social media channels, so too are the opportunities for expanding your brand. 

Brands are now competing for your time and attention in interconnected, integrated and experiential environments that offer both opportunities and challenges. It can be difficult to know where and how users will view content and indeed how they will engage with it, for example, sharing, commenting, repurposing and dynamically changing it. As a result, it can be difficult for a brand to remain true to its original values as it attempts to become flexible and maintain consistency across all platforms.

Traditionally, brand identities were created in a print-based arena and were mainly focused on an established set of principles which maintained consistency. These were then flexed to include an online presence via a website. However, the rise and expansion of ‘digital’ has allowed for movement, animation, sound and interaction in a more immediate way – something not defined by a person or place. 

The digital environment is a great place to deliver your chosen message and push your brand, although it must be understood and considered before diving in head-first. It can be quite technical with many requirements and options to consider. The good news is that the most complicated concepts and terminology can be broken down into simple language. More and more, infographics, stats, image-led information and short films or animations showcasing events or product launches are being used to condense and concisely transmit your message. Importantly, these are all measureable and alongside the day-to-day can be further broken down into build-up, launch / event and then follow-up so that you can really see the impact of your brand messaging. The final bonus of this is that the usability of these visual solutions can cross all social media networks and devices on which to view them.

Despite some of the complications of the digital environment, designers are catching up with the technical requirements and beginning to make the technology work for the design, and the dog is beginning to wag the tail rather than vice-versa. With effective planning and the right consideration to how your brand should be viewed and engaged with, there is no reason to get left behind or lost in the digital environment. 

As with the traditional approach to branding, social media platforms are a way to tell people about your company / product in the most engaging way possible. It is worth thinking of these areas as a simple extension of your brand, a place that people want to visit, enjoy seeing on their timelines. It is the opportunity to engage with a consistent and creative brand personality: whether this is through thought leadership or an ‘authentic’ approach to the message. This can be fun, clever and, when appropriate, even silly. Possibly the most common approach is through the former, but this doesn’t mean we should not consider the latter – everything has its place. I believe that brand is inextricably linked to people and social media is merely the next natural area of extension.