Social Media Guidelines: Visual BrandingMonday, March 28, 2011
To kick off the series on social media guidelines, I want to talk about visual branding through social media. We're starting with this topic because, quite simply, the eye buys, especially in an industry as visual as weddings. If a potential client visits your site and your various social media pages and the fonts, colors and design elements are cohesive, it sends a stronger message that you are a trustworthy company capable of handling their business. This may seem simple and common sense, but when a company has a beautiful website, but uses the pink flower background on Twitter and the default YouTube background, it sends a confusing, unprofessional message to potential clients.
The branding portion of your social media guidelines should address the following questions:
1. What will the naming scheme be for social media users (owners, employees, interns) within your company? Will it be each person's own name? (If yes, then if that person leaves your company, does that account and its accrued followers stay with the company or with that person? If it stays with the company, consider how that could be perceived by the public if they really connected with the original person.) Will it be a combination of your company name and their own name? Create a guideline for naming social media accounts that keeps it simple yet consistent. Also, keep in mind that you may be a one person company now, but what will you do if you bring on an intern or associate down the road? Keep your guidelines open to growth.
The Bridal Bar has a naming guideline that is simple yet effective for brand recognition - the original Bridal Bar and the initials of each official store's city. This allows the brand to grow and because "Bridal Bar" is a registered trademark, anyone who tries to "squat" on a future city account can be shut down by Twitter or the other social media platforms.
2. Will everyone in your company participating in social media have the same design background for the platforms that support it or will there be different versions for each employee?
The wedding film company, I Do Films, does a great job of incorporating a Twitter background that is cohesive in look yet personal to each employee:
3. The section on social media branding guidelines should also include the font names and color codes (both RGB and HEX - if you're unsure of yours, ask your graphic designer) you want used throughout the different social media platforms that are customizable. It should also include appropriately sized logos and/or background images that can be uploaded as well as size standards for avatar photos.
Twitter uses HEX color codes for their design settings:
I keep the guidelines for Splendid Communications in a Backpack account from 37signals so it can be accessed easily anywhere, but there are other formats that will work well, too:
Taking some time to think through how you want your company to visually be represented in every aspect of social media and putting that information in the branding section of your social media guidelines will help you create a cohesive look online.