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I stand before you naked

Posted by TeamITI on May 5, 2009

corporateidentityThere is a common dream (nightmare?) that many people have. You find yourself in a public place and then you realise you are naked. You panic and try and cover yourself or run away. Freudians have a field day with it.

I’ve realised that this is how many brand managers feel when contemplating social media or digital pr campaigns. How do you manage and maintain your corporate identity guidelines in a medium that is inherently transparent and personal rather than corporate? I guarantee your 100 page ‘Corporate Identity Guidelines’ were not created with digital pr in mind.

So how do you maintain a brand identity in social media? I guess you need to start with a definition of a brand – and there’s a myriad of those. One I like is “A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer” from Colin Bates.

Yes, you can customise the look and feel of your Blog, Facebook pages and Twitter home etc with on-brand colours, images and typefaces, but who’s really looking? It’s what and how you say things that’s defining your brand personality. And companies don’t really engage with people on social media – people do. This is where we start to get naked and that’s scary. Because although you might be engaging as a representative of your brand, social media will see you as an individual under your corporate outer clothing.

So a brand’s social media guidelines might include tone of voice, tenses, phrases to own, grammar, topics. But they’ll also need to include ‘personal exposure’ guidelines – what you can and cannot give up about yourself. Politics, religion, sexuality, passions, interests etc?

Then there’s a brand’s behaviour online. Are we responsive to every post? What’s our attitude to criticism? All these things and many more will define our ‘brand identity’ on line more than any logo or typeface. So that corporate identity manual has now gone up to 120 pages and the brand ‘police’ are going to see you naked.

More articles on social media at JuiceDigital.

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