September 3, 2021
It’s far too easy to get lost in the endless scroll of social media. That’s why being distinctive is so important – it’s how you make your brand recognisable and memorable, even in a sea of similar messages.
Distinctive branding sets you apart from the rest. It means that people identify you with your message and keep your brand in mind for longer. Otherwise, you run the risk of your messaging being attributed to another brand – or indistinguishable from your general category or sector.
So, distinctiveness is the goal – but how does it work in reality? Social media are personal spaces for many people, so they can’t quite be treated like any other advertising real estate. That’s why strong, consistent and recognisable branding can be such a challenge on social.
Branding used to be about differentiation – what your brand did differently from others in your market. Now, distinctiveness is key. Rather than focusing on what you do, it’s about creating a highly identifiable representation of your brand.
Colour, shape, font, logo, packaging – all the elements of your brand contribute to how distinctive it is. Your level of brand distinction is about how well those elements are recognised by customers, especially when seen with similar brands in your market. People need to not just recognise your branding but also mentally link it to your business and messaging.
You may have developed branding that looks distinctive at first glance – whether bright and bold, clean and simple, cute and kooky – but disappears into a mass of similar-looking elements when grouped with other brands.
Our partner agency TRA puts it like this: “Distinctive assets are the things that make a brand instantly recognisable and memorable. They are the components that constitute people’s mental footprint of a brand.”
Most brands set ‘brand building’ as a goal on social media – but without distinctive, cohesive, and consistent branding, that can be difficult to achieve. Social media are particularly challenging because posts are standardised and limited. Depending on the platform, you may be limited to a small square of imagery, a few hundred characters and little space for your logo.
In this environment, it’s harder for your brand elements to come across strongly in all your messaging. Another challenge is the speed of social. Because social media managers post content frequently across a range of platforms, it can be hard for brand managers or designers to develop strongly branded content in time. Your social media manager may choose to keep up with the posting strategy, rather than prioritise your branding.
TRA works in the brand-building space, and its vast experience proves that distinctiveness matters. One standout stat: comms activity that’s correctly associated with the brand drives brand growth by a factor of 2-3 times.
And it makes perfect sense. After all, even if your content is powerful and effective, if few people associate it with your brand, it all goes to waste. If you’re going to the effort of creating great content, it’s essential to prioritise branding so you get the full benefit of that effort.
Brand building is really about building relationships with your customers. You want them to understand what you stand for, recognise you in a crowd, and ultimately gravitate towards you instead of other brands. They can’t do that if you blend into the crowd.
Unless you’re an emerging business or you’re in the process of rebranding, you’ll already have brand assets on hand. The key is making the most of these assets in your social media marketing.
Here’s how to wring as much value as possible out of your existing brand identity:
1: Know what you own
Defining your brand assets is the first step. Every brand will have a different set of elements that make up a whole. From the obvious, like your logo, brand colours, name, fonts and other visual elements used in your advertising, to distinctive taglines or recognisable packaging designs, and even characters, music or smells (think Play-Doh).
When you know what defines your brand, you can make sure your social content matches up.
2: Keep it simple and single-minded
On social media, there’s not much room for complexity or nuance. Don’t try to include every single brand element in each post. Instead, keep it clean, simple and distinctive.
Colour, font and shape can be powerful ways to telegraph your brand, even in small post formats.
3: Consistency is key
Once you’ve found a brand formula that works, keep it going. Repeating brand elements across different platforms and posts helps cement your brand in customers’ minds, making a lasting impression rather than a fleeting one.
This isn’t just a hunch, either. TRA explains: “Repetition of distinctive assets is the way to ensure that sensory signals repeatedly trigger emotions that become embedded in memory structures.”
Get your brand designer to create set templates and make them accessible to everyone in your business, so all social content meets branding guidelines, no matter who is posting.
4: Get everyone on board
It’s hard to be consistent if you have a lot of people working on your brand. Your designer might have strong ideas about brand elements, your social media manager might want to get content out no matter what and your sales manager might be more concerned about getting the latest product in the shot.
Your designer should be the guardian of your branding, setting guidelines – and guardrails – to stop content slipping off-brand. Get your designer to create unbreakable templates for different types of posts, and make sure your marketing team knows how to use them. If you don’t have an in-house designer, one workaround is a Canva account set up with brand colours, fonts and shapes, so it’s easy to stay on track.
5: Every element matters
You can’t have a cohesive online presence if some posts and elements don’t fit with the rest of your brand. This means finding ways to include brand elements even when you’re following social media trends or working on a new type of post.
For example, if you’re starting to post more photography or video content, make sure these elements meet brand guidelines as well. Use your brand colours as backgrounds, include packaging, fonts and logo where possible, and don’t post without thinking. It’s smart to build in a checking process that includes at least two separate people, so everything has a few sets of eyes across it before going live.
Creating distinctive content is one thing, measuring its impact is another. If you want to gain insight into your level of brand distinction on social media, Zavy can help. Our social media analytics tools help you track activity, customer responses and even sentiment on all your platforms, giving you a real insight into how your brand is perceived.