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What does it mean to be “on-brand”?

May 31, 2019

What does it mean to be “On-brand”?

On-brand, branded, brand identity, branding, Russell Brand.

So many brand related words, all with slightly different meanings.

We work with our clients to create content that is ‘on-brand’ for their firm. Let’s look at what that actually means, and how you can achieve your own on-brand content using these practical tips.

You can’t create on-brand content, without knowing your brand

Being ‘on-brand’ simply means that you’re creating content that is in alignment with your brand.

That’s going to be pretty difficult if you don’t know what your brand is.

Your brand isn’t just your name and logo. As Paul Rand said, “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand”.  The words and visual elements we’re going to talk about in this blog are a reflection of who you are as a firm, and who you serve. Your brand is the whole story.

A consistent brand builds trust with your audience, and we want to you be 100% confident you know who that audience is, and that they’re the right audience for you – start with a brand workshop if you’ve realised you need this figured out first.

Once you have a solid brand, you can start to create consistent content that speaks to all of these elements.

Create content that speaks your language

Our clients know that the four pillars that hold up PF are Creativity, Integrity, Generosity and Rest. Our personality as a firm has these traits – we’re positive, we discourage blame culture, we’re not defensive. We go to work everyday to help accountants understand and love marketing.

Knowing this at the core means that when we come to writing a blog, or sharing on social, we use the kind of language that reflects our personality. We’re generous with our tips, we’re here to help. We talk passionately about marketing!

Black Sheep Accountants are a great example. Their brand is bold, fresh and modern and that shines through in everything they create: from their website to their swag items.

Action: Go back to your brand values. Are you the friendly accountant? The straight talking accountant? Have you made a promise to explain accounting in a less-corporate-more-fun way? Now look at the content you’ve already created and ask yourself if it really conveys these traits. Ask your team. Look at the comments from your audience! The best way to know if your tone of voice is on-brand, is to see what your audience says about you.

Paint a picture using your brand colours

Using the same visual elements in your online and offline marketing efforts echoes who you are and makes you recognisable as a firm. Creating consistent images doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

Colours have always been a powerful marketing tool, because we attach feelings to them. Have you ever noticed that movies make you feel a certain way before a character has even appeared?

A movie set in a cold, bleak environment will be drained of colour, and use dark blues to make you feel cold and isolated. In contrast, a movie about teenagers in Havana will be oranges and yellows, to make us feel happy and warm and remind us of youth.

Directors use colours to set the mood. We want to do exactly the same thing on your social channels.

Take a look at Mailchimp’s instagram account as an example:

MailChimp brand

Mailchimp’s main colours are yellow and black, because much like their brand name, they want their brand personality to come across as playful. Just this one snapshot of their timeline makes you feel playful doesn’t it? Hand drawn designs, bright popping colours.

But you’ll also notice that in almost every image there’s a little bit of yellow or black (or both). This is what we mean by weaving your colours into your social feeds. You’re constantly reminding us who you are and what you stand for, and it’s almost subconscious!

Action: If it’s not already on your radar, head over to Canva. It’s a simple free graphic design tool which helps you create social images and documents. Kinder Pocock and Barb Brady love it. To get started:

1. Create an account and login

2. Choose the design template you want to use, all set to the standard dimensions of the social platform.

Canva

3. Once you’ve chosen, you have a blank canvas to create the image you want, with plenty of customisable features.

4. If you sign up for Canva Pro, you also get the benefit of the ‘Canva Brand Kit’, which enables you to add your own hex codes for your brand colours, and upload your own company fonts for only a small monthly cost.

5. Download from canva and upload to your social site!

Remember, the key is in the consistency

Once you feel like you’re getting the hang of creating content that matches your tone of voice, and images that show your personality, you’re going to want to document it so that everyone in the firm has the ability to live and breathe your brand.

You might want to create a brand guidelines PDF to ensure that your way of doing things is documented for all to use. This will help to keep things consistent, and ensure any new hires will be “on-brand” from day one! Typically this would include:

  • Your brand values and words
  • Any company taglines
  • Your colour palette
  • Your logo files
  • A guide to your tone of voice
  • Examples of image styles
  • The kind of photography you use

Another helpful way to share these details is to build a landing page with downloads and examples: really useful for events or anything you’re doing with Apps or Xero. Here’s an example of our PF Brand page.

If you’d like help to create a brand guideline, or any of the bespoke branded content we’ve talked about, just give the PF team a shout.