What does it mean to be on-brand?
In marketing, we use the terms on-brand and off-brand to indicate whether a communication (or action) is, or isn’t, in alignment with a company’s stated purpose or brand.
That’s a lot of jargon, so let’s break it down! Brands are both tangible and intangible things. It’s not just about your colors, fonts and imagery. Those can be off-brand, as well; like, if Coca-Cola ran an advertisement using the color blue instead of red. That would be confusing, right? What I want to address today is how businesses go off-brand in less tangible ways.
In addition to colors, fonts and imagery, a brand is the personality of a company. It’s the communication style (formal or informal; funny or serious; romantic or edgy- things like that). It’s what the brand does (where it shows up, who it affiliates with, how it interacts with customers). That’s where we see companies go off-brand more often. Why? Because it’s too easy to blur the line between the company’s personality (brand), and our own.
Here are a few examples:
The small business Facebook page with a split personality. For small business owners, it can be tough to keep business and personal from bleeding together. Keep your business posts strategic and intentional. That doesn’t mean your posts need to be impersonal. It just means your law firm clients aren’t going to be moved to action by what you ate for dinner last night.
The personal brand that’s just plain confusing. For those of us who do our work through a personal brand, nothing is more confusing than dabbling. Just like big brands, we need to be intentional about communicating who we are, who we serve, what we offer and what we stand for. Imagine if your Realtor® started offering weight loss pills or face cream. My guess is you would call someone else next time you need to sell a property. Why? Because, like others, you would start to wonder how committed they are to real estate. Don’t be a dabbler- or, at least, keep those varied interests separate.
The person who takes the bait. There’s no way around it. Negative reviews and comments hurt. In responding, keep your brand in mind and respond accordingly. For Wendy’s that means well-executed sarcasm (we’re all jealous of what their social media team gets to do!). Most of us, however, need to take the high road. That means writing in a tone that’s on-brand for your business, constructing a response that sets the record straight in a professional and objective way and taking the conversation off-line, professionally, when things escalate.
The secret to staying on-brand is to have a solid brand strategy. That includes visual identity standards (colors, fonts and other visual elements), as well as thoughtful communication strategies (what you will communicate, to whom, how and when).
Should you need more assistance developing your brand strategy, we’re happy to help. Contact us to request a free brand consultation.