Nailing the Visual Basics
When you talk to someone in person, you also share non-verbally. Many of the queues and signals your brand sends are non-verbal as well.
This is pretty much branding 101, so I won’t get into a ton of detail here, but the first thing you’ll want to be really clear about are your colors and your fonts. When you’ve chosen what you like, maybe with the help of a designer, write it down. Title and logo font, body text font, and colors in both Hex and RGB. I keep it written down next to my monitor, so I always have it at hand. It’s a HUGE time saver!
Do a quick audit of your current brand – is your font available on most web services? Do you have a workable number of colours? (More than 3 or 4 gets challenging!)
If so, you’re good to go on THAT end of things.
Creating Your Own Style Guide
Once you have the basics chosen, you need to think about the overall styles you’re going to use on each platform. While you don’t want cookie-cutter presentation, there should be consistency in the STYLE you’re using as well as the fonts and colors. If your style is polished and clean, with a lot of straight lines, it would throw off your audience to hit them with imagery that was gritty, splotchy or blurry, even if the colors and fonts are the same.
Here's a quick example: For our cross-platform brand we have our colors, (a red, a turquoise, a light and a dark) our main font (Montserrat), and we tend to use round elements like circles, dots and waves, that have solid (not dashed or blurry) lines. We will occasionally shake things up with a straight line – but as a rule – if in doubt, we make it a curve.
This sounds simplistic – but it really does help make our brand instantly recognizable across the different platforms we’re using.
Here are some more ideas of things that can stay the SAME across all the different types of images you’ll create for different platforms:
- Text Overlay Style. Maybe all your images have text highlighted in a box, or with specific words highlighted in one of your colors, or always on a solid color bar at the top or bottom.
- Text/Image Balance. Are you a more text-based company? If so, make the real design element your TEXT rather than images.
- Balance between text, image, and white space. If your brand is bright and busy, you might have a lot going on in each of your images – and that’s great! Make it your rule. If you’re going to a more modernist, minimalist look, keep lots of white space, and minimize either text or images in your brand decisions.
- Backgrounds and Borders. These can be a lovely way to keep the feeling of your brand consistent, but still have the flexibility to use different imagery and text styles.
I strongly recommend creating templates that you can use – whether you make them yourself using tools like Canva or Stencil, or have a designer on your team who can create them for you. Being able to quickly create a new on-brand image will save you time and headaches as you’re creating your content.
Here are the different types of image templates you’ll want to have for the different platforms you’re working on.
- Youtube Thumbnails (1280x720)
- Twitter Posts (1024x788)
- FB Ad images (1200x628)
- FB Posts (940x788)
- Pins (735x1102)
- Pinterest Cover Image (217x147)
- Blog Feature Images (1200x600)
- Regular Blog Post Image (750x750)
- LinkedIn Post (1400x800)
- Instagram Post (1080x1080)
And here are the “One Time” sizes you’ll need for some of the different platforms. If you are REALLY consistent with your headers, you can be a little more fluid with the posts and content – but try not to make the differences TOO jarring.
- Email Header (600x200)
- FB Headers (820x462)
- Twitter Headers (1500x500)
- YouTube Channel Header (1564x423)
- LinkedIn Header (1584x396)
- Podcast Cover Art (2000x2000)
Remember – pick a few elements that you’ll keep consistent across ALL of the platforms, then keep in mind the different kind of conversations that are happening on each one to make sure that the KIND of conversation you are having is appropriate.
Getting Into Rich Media
Text and images are a fantastic place to start. They’re easier and less expensive to produce. But many content creators find they outgrow static content and want to branch out in audio and video.
I can’t recommend it strongly enough: The RICHER the media you’re on, the more your audience is going to connect with you.
But how does your brand translate into audio and video materials?
It comes back to the CONVERSATION. Think about the words and feelings you described earlier in the post – you want to convey the same things with your audio branding and video elements. If you’re a bright and cheery brand, then having a dark drums’n’base podcast intro or video bumper is going to feel… bizarre. Similarly, if your style is witty and sarcastic, then a retro-pop sound is going to throw off the audience who expects a certain kind of communication from you.
I won’t lie – creating audio and video elements that fit your brand isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and doing it badly is considerably worse than not doing it at all – if you’re going to outsource ANY element of your brand development, make it’s this one.
To ease that process, however, you can go back to your voice, and spend some time (put a limit on it – this can take days if you let it) into browsing sources like AudioJungle and MusicBed to find a variety that you like and make you feel the way you want your audience to feel.
This could be light and happy, folks and comfortable, dark and gritty, brooding and serious, witty and irreverent, smooth and zen… it could be as many things as you have adjectives to choose between.
But it should be the SAME no matter where you’re putting your content.
Spend some time and think of two to three words that match your brand voice, your colors, your image style and your products and services.
These will be your Constant Words – the ones you can ask yourself “Is this content X and X” before sharing it.
You’ll stray from these words sometimes, we’re all humans after all, and a big change from the norm can be both a great chance to be vulnerable with your audience, and a way to direct attention to something really important – but the bulk of what you do, should be accurately describable using your words.
And there you have it – a branding guide that will carry you and your business through all the different platforms you could hope to be on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MEGAN DOUGHERTY
Megan Dougherty is a content and launch strategist, and co-founder of One Stone Creative. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for how to get your content on different platforms (without having to start from scratch every time you have a concept!) check out the Great Repurpose Project, where you’ll learn (for free) how to take one piece of content and make it WORK on multiple platforms.