Thursday, April 17, 2014

What’s the Impact of Social Media on Brand Identity?

There’s no doubt that social media has become a useful tool for marketing promotions, building buzz around both old and new brands, and initiating online discussions and engagement. CEOs and corporate Presidents can be found on Twitter sharing both corporate and personal news, and as a result, we have come to know more about their leadership styles. But while all this positive activity has occurred due to social media, there has also been a negative impact on the category of marketing known as brand identity.

Here are five ways that social media has made an impact on brand identity:

What are some of the most well-known logos in the world? Did you think of Coca-Cola, Nike, BMW, Disney, or Apple? While these logos have become part of our psyche, they also easily fit into squares. While many social media platforms have given us platforms to share our commentary, they have also provided us with squares to feature our corporate logos. This may not seem like a big deal, but if your corporate logo has a long name or an odd shape, it doesn’t fit into a square. The result may not be good for your marketing, or brand identity, because you will have to modify your logo to fit the social platform, and in the process, do the unthinkable – change your logo.

What are some of the most well-known taglines in the word? There’s Apple’s “Think Different.” And BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” And Nike’s “Just Do It.” And American Express’ “Don’t Leave Home Without It.” There has always been a directive of “the shorter, the better,” when marketing types get inside a room assigned with the task of creating clever and memorable taglines, but with the advent of social media, how easy is it to include a tagline to profile sections? The bottom line is that profile squares, or boxes that feature a logo, simply cannot accommodate a tagline. What does this mean for businesses that require the inclusion of their tagline to tell their story?

What if your business is celebrating a momentous occasion? What if you’ve added a ribbon or circle of words to your logo such as: “Celebrating 50 Years” or “Get Ready for 2015 – Our 100th Anniversary” or “Celebrating 100 Years”? Certainly these words will change your logo, but they also become a big part of your brand storytelling. The truth is, they need to be included.

Have you modified your website so that all design elements have been stripped from your mobile version? Does any significant design remain to reflect the messaging that all your collateral and other marketing tools reflect? How do you tell your brand story in the mobile environment? Don’t forget that your brand story is still critical despite the growth of smartphones and tablets.

Before social media appeared on the scene, marketing tools were the “be-all, end-all.” This meant that direct mail, brochures, annual reports, fact sheets, and press kits easily told a company’s or non-profit’s story. But in today’s social media era, there are countless social platforms (a list including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram is just the tip of the social iceberg), and as a result, consistency is even more critical for brand identity. Customers and prospects are brand-savvy, so if there are inconsistent voices, inconsistent facts, and/or inconsistent presentations across the social milieu, you run the risk of losing not just one customer for life. But due to the strength of word-of-mouth marketing in the social space, you run the risk of losing countless customers for life. So make sure your priority is brand consistency.

Has your brand identity been impacted by social media? Please chime in and share your story.

Image Credit: artur84 via

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How Does Your Business Create Social Media Circles?

While most of us are familiar with Google Plus circles, there’s a similar concept that exists throughout social media. When people network on a personal level, they develop circles of influence. But in the business environment, how does this concept of circles fit? How does your business create social media circles?

Recently, I read a post on the blog of a nationally-known expert who specializes in customer service tips and strategies, Shep Hyken. The post was not written by the blogger, but instead, by a guest contributor. Since I admire and respect the owners of the blogs I regularly read, I always check out posts by their guests.

This particular post was written by the president of a furniture store, and the title was, “Ten Tips for Achieving 100% Customer Satisfaction.” As I read the post, I was nodding my head in agreement with each tip. My favorite tips were:

[1] Never answer a question by telling a customer that something is “company policy.”

[2] Mistakes and problems always result in opportunities to create long-term loyal customers by exceeding expectations.

[3] Unhappy employees cannot create delighted customers.

When I finished reading the post, I immediately opened Twitter on my iPhone to share the post. 

I Tweeted:  Transforming an “angry” customer into an enthusiastic advocate is always worth the cost. -Jeff Frank of @SimplicitySofas via @Hyken.

Within a few moments, I noticed that my Tweet was Re-Tweeted by the Twitter account of Simplicity Sofas. That was a kind gesture, but I had not expected the Re-Tweet.

But what was even more amazing was something that happened shortly thereafter. I received an email from the post’s writer, Jeff Frank, the President of Simplicity Sofas. My email does not appear in my bio on Twitter, so Jeff had to take the time to research me on the Internet and find a way to communicate with me. In his email, he thanked me for the mention on Twitter and also shared some details about his company.

I was so impressed by Jeff’s email that I responded to him, “Hi Jeff, your outreach resulting from my Tweet of your post on Shep’s website is inspirational and represents the quintessential core of social networking. If only you were closer to my hometown in California, I would be thrilled to shop for a sofa at your showroom in North Carolina. Thanks again for showcasing the best of social, or as Vala Afshar Tweets: Don't do social, be SOCIAL: sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic, and likeable.”

After thanking Jeff for his email, I wrote to the blog’s owner and fellow customer service advocate, Shep Hyken, to share my memorable interaction with Jeff. Shep responded, “Hi Debbie, It really is amazing how connections are made. Jeff’s company does amazing customer service.”

This exchange made me think about how most businesses use and view social media. In today’s social climate, many of us in the marketing arena think about ROI and metrics on a daily basis, but too often, we lose sight of the simple ways to measure our social media marketing efforts: one-on-one connections. Ask yourself, when was the last time your business continued a conversation past a single Tweet or single Facebook post? When did a telephone call result from a Tweet or a Facebook post? When did your business follow a Tweet or Facebook comment with a letter from your President?

If your business doesn’t spend the time to really develop personal relationships with prospective customers, you’re losing out on what makes social media such an effective marketing tool.

Inspiration for this post:
Ten Tips for Achieving 100% Customer Satisfaction by Jeff Frank on Shep Hyken’s Blog: 


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.