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How to Create a Visual Brand So You Don’t Look Like Everyone Else on Social

The brands and people who stand out on social media have a very clear visual brand. As soon as you glimpse their post, you know who it is. I am working on this for myself right now, so I turned to my friend Kaytie, a brilliant designer, for advice.


Here’s what she told me.


Yes, do you so need a distinct visual brand


One, it’s your greatest ally as a marketing tool when done effectively.


“If I’m looking for a new hair salon,” Kaytie explained, “and I check out their Instagram, the photos, creativity and words they use all play into my perception of the brand. As consumers, that influences our choices. If I think they look cool and like someone I’d want to spend time with, I’m in.”


Two, it reinforces the credibility of your brand.


“There are so many people on social media,” Kaytie continued. “Your social platforms are an expression of your brand, just like your logo. Especially for potential clients, your visual brand on social reinforces the credibility your overall business.”


How to create a visual brand so you don’t look like everyone else


Step One: Establish brand pillars


What colors, messages, and overall vibe make sense for your brand and the channel? Those will become your brand pillars.


Keep in mind that there are nuances to each social platform. Instagram is about communicating a lifestyle. If I see a product on Instagram, I think, ‘What is my life going to look like with that product in my life?’

LinkedIn, meanwhile, is about communicating expertise. ‘Can this person help my business reach certain goals?’


Speaking of communication, who you are talking to and what your goal is will impact your messsage. If you want to educate people, your message and tone of voice will be different than if you want to inspire them.


Step Two: Drill down to messaging


What are you going to say and how are going to say it? This is when we dig into tone of voice, specific word choices and brand values (we say this, not this). Creating guidelines is especially important if someone else is managing your social channels; guidelines will help your brand stay consistent.


Remember, your brand is constantly evolving. If you’re rapidly growing, revisit the messaging every six months to ensure your visual brand pillars are still aligned with the company.


Step Three: Learn how to edit photos


Good photography is so important on social, and where you take that look is equally as important.


My favorite photography tool is LightRoom. Their free mobile app provides you with tools to get a more stylized look that elevates the quality of your images.


When it comes to taking your own photos, the Internet is your greatest resource. Look for tutorials on composition and lighting. And if you have an iPhone, use portrait mode. It’s your secret weapon.


Step Four: Pick your hashtags


Hashtags are not about being cute or funny. The purpose of a hashtag is to be found for what you want to be found for or what your brand aligns with.


Use them strategically. Make sure they are relevant to where you are (geographically), what you’re doing and who you want to reach. With that said, don’t overuse hashtags. They can quickly become a distraction.


And just like you did with messaging, definitely put some guardrails around hashtags (use these, not these.)


Step Five: Be consistent


Consistency is the string that leads us right back to credibility. Keep your visual brand consistent so people absolutely “get you.” Once you discover who are you, own it.




If you need a little more guidance around social media marketing in general, check out our ebook, The Small Business Guide to Social Media Marketing.


Image by Kerde Severin via Unsplash 

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