At Gavin, we’re passionate about branding. We get giddy when we see new logo designs or brand standards for familiar brands and we love love LOVE helping startups and established businesses in the York, Lancaster and Harrisburg region and beyond create unique voices for their brands.

So we are baffled when we see a company with a great offline presence fail to translate that brand experience into the digital realm. Whether it’s a website that doesn’t utilize offline brand standards or a tweet that doesn’t carry the same tone as the company’s overall messaging, we cringe when we spot a digital branding anomaly.

That’s why we’re offering this primer for digital branding.

Your Website: Your Digital Branding Hub

Does your homepage look like it belongs to your company? Does it use the same style of imagery, messaging, font and color? Your website is an extension of your brand; it should look like it belongs right at home with your offline marketing materials. When your website fails to adhere to brand standards, users will interpret this as a fraudulent site and will bounce. By ignoring brand standards on your website, you might be driving consumers away, instead of encouraging further exploration of your site. However, when your site reflects your brand, you help your business distinguish itself from competitors, and users gain perspective into what they can expect from you and your business.

Logos and color schemes are only the beginning of a branded website design; page layout and copy also need to be in alignment with your brand standards. Choose a layout that best speaks to your brand and will guide the user to the primary information and important calls-to-action. Use copy that sets the user’s expectation appropriately to your level of customer service. What does your current copy tell a website visitor? Can the user expect friendly and knowledgeable service, or a robotic representative who only speaks in industry jargon?

Where You Are is as Important as What You Say

Sometimes, you have to abandon projects that you have invested in. The Social team at Gavin had to do just that the other week, when we decided to kill our Pinterest account. It’s not that we don’t see the value in the platform; Pinterest is a great tool for various industries, especially retail. However, we recognized having a Pinterest presence did not support our overall brand goals and devoting time to the network was eating time away from networks that did.

Choosing the right social media platform for your business is a combination of selecting where your audience lives digitally and what types of content work well with the network. In our case, while Pinterest’s visually driven platform works with our industry, it’s not where our target audience goes to find marketing tips and advice, so it doesn’t align with our brand goals to pin content to the platform’s boards.

Once you have established which social media outlets your business should populate, you need to create a designated persona and consistent messaging that can be tweaked for each platform. Creating a digital branding guide for employees can help ensure that every post, tweet and share reflects your overall brand goals. Digital brand standards should address not only when and what to post, but how to react to both positive and negative comments, or even when to stay silent. Moz recently wrote an excellent piece explaining why digital brand standards should include guidelines for posting during national and international tragedies.

No Digital Detail is Too Small

Are your email signatures branded? Does your Facebook cover photo adhere to the correct dimensions and reflect your brand? Do your YouTube videos feature a standard opening sequence? These details may seem minor, but can affect your brand image in similar ways to the so-called “big” decisions in branding.

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of coordinating your own digital brand standards? Talk to Gavin. It’s kind of our thing. We’ve helped businesses in York, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Baltimore and beyond with digital branding.