Developing your brand can be very treacherous, especially in this competitive and trendy media climate. When you’re an emerging brand, you’re still figuring out your voice and how to get it out there in an authentic, meaningful way. Getting your voice and product out there can be a struggle; sometimes the fish just aren’t biting.
If you’re a new voice, social media is the best option when trying to break into a crowded market. There’s enough diversity between social media platforms so that your voice can be flexible, you’ll be able to communicate and engage with your consumer base 24/7 and you’ll have the opportunity to give your trademark a more personal approach.
Of course, while you’re exploring the vast universe that is social media, you’ll happen upon trends, memes and lots and lots of #hashtags. It’s very tempting to frolic about this online playground. It’s fun and you’ll have an opportunity to get in on the joke. When used smartly, you make your brand more likeable and more relevant. If not, well…
Check out these words of wisdom on why your brand shouldn’t be the class clown.
Get in on the Joke, Don’t Become It
There’s a lot you can do to get your voice out there, but on social media you will be judged quickly and harshly. You want to get in on the joke, not become it. It may be difficult to balance getting in on a trend while maintaining your unique voice, but it is possible.
Social media is the easiest way to manage your brand’s voice. It’s your first line of defense and it’s your best way to have direct communication with your base. If you’re struggling to get out there, you may have to go the populist route, but it’s important that you don’t get swept up in it.
Exhibit A: Discovery Communications was, at least at first, known for its in-depth documentaries, educational content and challenging stance toward viewers. It was thanks to the emergence of reality TV that Discovery began to lose its reputation as an educational network.
In an effort to attain higher ratings, the company began scheduling some reality programs into its various networks. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, 19 Kids and Counting and Naked and Afraid were among those many programs that replaced Discovery’s more meaningful content.
The result was higher ratings, but lost prestige. And now, the network is scrambling to return to its roots in order to combat the cord-cutter movement seen in recent years. If Discovery had stuck with its educational content and glossy documentaries instead of pure fiction like Megalodon: The New Evidence or Mermaids: The Body Found, they may have retained their old reputation.
Now, what does Discovery’s programming decisions have to do with social media? Why is this relevant? I’m so glad you asked. Look at this nonsense:
If you’re relatively new to Discovery and you saw that, you wouldn’t think that it was previously a well-respected source of education, would you?
Do you know how Discovery should really be engaging on Twitter? Check out their response to rapper B.o.B.’s flat earth foolishness:
That’s how you stay true to your brand while also staying relevant. You don’t have to try and make job interviews extreme and deadly when all you have to do is keep your social media ears open and find a way to get in on the conversation.
Exhibit B: MTV has also turned to the dark side by taking away all of its music content and resorting to programs that don’t exactly feature music. They, as a brand, have forgotten their roots, and every piece of their variety has suffered. I mean, have you seen this?
I mean, what the hell does that have to do with music?! And of all the birthdays, why the 14th? You’d think MTV’s Twitter feed would be filled with music videos of all your favorite up-and-coming artists and performers. Not filled with Vogue photoshoots with some lady, or this… “happy family.”
Of course, your business, product or service is likely not a television network and won’t be involved in the battle for ratings. However, as a brand, you will face similar temptations to appeal to the masses.
Now, if you’ve already got a brand with a voice and an audience, there will be times where you have to shake things up in order to stay relevant. You’re going to want to find the popular route, something to garner mass appeal. The challenge here is to constantly evolve, but remain the same. So, how the hell do you do that?
Exhibit C: Remember Share a Coke? Think about how many shares those named bottles got. Coca-Cola is an old brand; they’ve been around forever. Yet, even in the current climate of sodas being as bad for you as cigarettes (and they are), Coke managed to stay relevant through social media. They created something simple and true to their brand without ever compromising themselves.
This trademark identity goes back to an old, old Coke commercial. To have a Coke is to be with other people, and to have fun with those people. They’ve never strayed from that voice, and their marketing success proves it.
Branding Lessons Learned
So, ask yourself:
- What is your voice?
- Who is your audience?
- What is the essence of your brand?
- Are you local and artisanal?
- Are you bold and popular?
- Are you angsty and wild?
- Or are you thoughtful and charitable?
These are important characteristics of your brand that will ultimately shape how you evolve and speak to your audience.
Knowing your voice, however, is only half the battle.
You must creating content that properly fits into your variety. Whether that’s commercials, television programming, viral marketing or engaging with your consumer base over social media, you need the right content to back it up, otherwise you only have a clever voice with nothing else to offer.
Marketing is a tricky game; one that involves anticipation, quick action and wit. It’s not easy, you’ll constantly make mistakes. But when it’s good, it’s iconic.
Social media has given marketers and brands new opportunities and strategies to provide customer service, inform and now, entertain. It’s the entertainment side that can loom larger than intended, and it can distract you from what your brand is all about.
As long as you’re listening, anticipating and engaging on social media, you’re golden.
We know you’ve seen some epically bad social media and some iconic mastering of it. Tells us which brands you admire or cringe at!