When asked to think of a successful brand Coca Cola, Apple and McDonalds are usually at the top of the list. All successful in their own right, each brand has cemented itself in its chosen market and has a clear vision of who they are. When it comes to creating a strong brand presence consistency is key and when ensuring all communications are instantly recognisable first impressions really do count.

As consumers we’re pretty shallow and looks mean a lot. They are our first opportunity to judge the quality of a brand’s proposition and visual cues tell us what to expect and/or is required. What’s more images transcend language and 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual. So, how you as a brand visually represent yourself will impact how the outside world perceive your company values, offering and vision.

This applies across all your communications channels. Particularly in today’s quick fire communications mix where social media strategy is often lacking and messages sent into the digisphere without enough thought or reflection. Due to the speed of release, a largely reactive marketplace and saturation of these platforms, marketers often fail to consider the overall impact these messages have on their brand. Yet, if you regularly use social media in your marketing then creating a strong visual brand image on social media is critical. Think: if this was for print would it pass the test?

Follow best practice

Make sure your company’s social profiles follow best practice guidelines and make use of the profile tools available to you. So many companies fail to create their profile and cover images to spec, meaning they are not compatible or viewable across devices.

TIP: If you’re using text on images (try to avoid this where possible) make sure it is not cut off or covered when uploaded to your social profile. Check this across devices and not just on desktop as the dimensions vary.

Think quality

Your imagery acts as a graphic narrative for your brand. High quality imagery portrays that you care and gives an indication to your brand personality. Make sure your imagery is relevant, accessible and that it tells the story you wish to communicate with your audiences. Visual information is translated 60k times faster than written messages, so make it count! If using graphics rather than photography, it’s worth considering the style you want to adopt and ensuring this design filters through everything you release. Photography should also adopt a particular look and feel, and where possible avoid stock imagery – unique and branded imagery gets more action. Take a look at Corona Extra to see how they do it. What’s more, with the rise in photo based social networks, including Instagram and Snapchat, photo filters have grown in popularity and it’s now time for you to get involved in your own way.

Images on Facebook constitute 93% of the most engaging posts so what are you waiting for – start creating those branded snaps now (Social Bakers).

TIP: Find a style or filter which is fitting with your brand and stick with it. No one likes inconsistency, it is unprofessional and like everything else, can confuse brand identity.

Carefully select colours that reflect your values and stick to them

Does your company have brand colours? If the answer is yes, then great, this is the starting point for building a strong and coherent brand image. If no, then consider establishing these. They will help your staff to communicate clearly and avoid confused, inconsistent messaging. When a customer sees your brand colours online, you want them to know it’s your marketing without explicitly telling them it’s you. Take McDonalds for example, you instantly recognise those bright yellow arches in any country around the world, don’t you? McDonalds is a brand with excellent visuals strongly deployed across all channels and staying true to their corporate colours has made them one of the most recognised and well-respected brands in the world (Business Insider).

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, take a look at the brands doing it well and learn from them! It is recommended to select between two and four colours for core branding, using them consistently in all social media communications (Hubspot). Your wider colour palette should then complement this selection. While we don’t expect you to be colour experts, a little knowledge in the psychology of colour can go a long way. Utilising black and white tends to give connotations of sophistication and luxury, red sends signals of excitement and passion (but can also be seen as aggressive or negative in some cultures), whilst our signature brand colour orange depicts a sense of energy and vitality (Hubspot).

TIP: Knowing the Hex codes of your chosen colours is key to ensuring consistency across social media channels and marketing collateral! (Hubspot).

Fonts are more than just writing

Fonts also act as a visual element in your brand toolkit. So consider, what do they say about you? When it comes to social networks you can’t edit the font in which you publish updates but you can influence any fonts used in imagery, banners, landing pages, etc. As you’re never sure what your update will be sandwiched between using a unique and recognisable combination of fonts can be the perfect way to stand out from the crowd (a big crowd at that)! Consistent fonts create familiarity – allowing you to focus on key messages rather than having to say who you are.

TIP: With your font choice speaking volumes about your brand, we know it can be difficult to choose the perfect one(s). Why not check out Google web fonts to help you nail it!

It’s time to take a step back and look at your brand’s presence on social media – if your name and logo was removed, would your customers recognise you? If the answer is no, then your social presence needs some TLC and quick! Create some style guides around the above tips for your community managers to adhere to and make sure your web presence is being well maintained.