Identify Your Voice for your Brand
One of the big concepts that we're gonna be talking about today is how to build trust through authenticity. And this is kind of the biggest thing that I want you guys to focus in on, because we're interacting with people on social, it's a lot like having a conversation. I think people hear this buzzword, authenticity, and they think, oh gosh. I'm gonna have to share every detail of my life. I don't wanna get this personal. I don't really wanna share every detail of my life, but this is not the case at all. We don't have to get into the nitty gritty, the negative, we can just imagine that it's a lot like meeting someone new at a party, right? You're coming into a party, you have a cocktail in your hand. You're really excited to be there. You're looking around the room. There's all these amazing people I wanna talk to and engage with, and this is what you do. You don't go up to someone and start telling them all of your personal secrets. You don't start telling them, oh god, they wouldn'...
t believe all this crazy things that's happening at work. You don't unload all of your worst things. You talk about your favorite things. You talk about the things that you do for work. You talk about the things that you're passionate about, the work that you create if you're an artist or a maker. You really kind of focus in on what makes you unique, and the things that you wanna be known for. So the same way that we're gonna engage with someone one-on-one at a party or at a conference when we're talking to people in our industry, this is kind of the same situation when we're on social media. We really just want to engage people in the things that make us special, and the work that we really want to be know for, the things that we want to put out into the world. And so, we're really having this opportunity to set expectations with our first impression, and what I mean by that is that in the same way that you're talking with someone at a party, you're introducing yourself, telling the more about what you do, you have this opportunity on social media to sort of set expectations about who you are, what you do, what your values are for your business, with that first impression, and a first impression can be made in an instant. So what I wanna start out with is a challenge. I think we should all pull out our phones, take a look at our last six photos on Instagram, and get a sense of what that first impression looks like for our individual accounts and our brands. And so I think that this is really important to think about when we're thinking about what's the overall impression that I'm putting out into the world through my social media presence? Because it doesn't take much to either make a bad impression, or to confuse people about what it is that you do and what it is that you're trying to share with them. So we wanna look at these last six photos and kind of get a sense of what are we trying to get across? So pull out your phone, think about kind of what's going on in your feed. What are the last six, or you kinda get a sense of maybe the last nine, if you sort of can see below the fold there. When you're looking at those photos, pretend that you're looking at it like a stranger. You don't know anything about your brand, you haven't read that bio, you don't know this person. Pretend that you're a complete stranger and you're encountering this profile for the first time. What can you glean from these last six photos? What do you think that's telling a story about your brand? What are the sort of attributes of these photos? What are they putting out there, and is it true to what you're trying to share as a maker, as a creative, as an artist. Is this aligned with the core values of your brand? So, we wanna talk about this sort of first impression, because the way that we get to grow our following, the way that we attract followers to come and say, yes, I'm gonna click that follow button, I really wanna see what this person's up to, I wanna engage with their work on a regular basis, is by setting up for success through consistency. So like I was saying before, essentially what we wanna do, the last six photos are sort of the reflection of our brand as a whole, and a lot of times, people won't go much further than that before they make a decision about whether to follow you. They may have encountered your work through a single photo, and then clicked over to your profile, and they're making a split-second decision if they trust that what you have to offer is of interest to them. They're making that split-second decision about whether they trust that all of that content that they've been excited about up until that point is something that you're offering on a regular basis, because that's the key. If we see someone who's posted a one-off that we're really excited about, but they never post that other type of content again, we're probably not gonna click follow, because we don't think that that's something that's part of their normal work, or part of what they have to offer on a regular basis, and so we'll look for that type of content elsewhere. So consistency is really key. We wanna have consistency in the visuals, so like I was showing you on the last six photos of this account, you can see that the visuals are tied together by brightness, by use of really bright color, really simplified layouts. It's kind of really fun, sort of party atmosphere. This is Studio DIY, and even if you weren't familiar with her blog, you would see what she has to offer, and you would think gosh, this looks like a lot of fun, and I think I wanna follow her just because I know that this is likely gonna continue to be what I see in her feed. So if this appealed to you, you would feel comfortable clicking follow, because of the consistency in those visuals. So the other thing to think about in terms of consistency is working within a theme, and we can't post about everything. I mean you could, but this is the problem is essentially if you're posting about too many different topics, too many different themes, people really aren't sure what's most important to you. They don't really understand where you're coming from as a creative person, or as an artist or a maker. We really wanna see consistency in themes, because that helps people to trust that the thing that you're best at, or the thing that you're most wanting to share, is what you're gonna be sharing most often, because if you're an artist, but you're mostly sharing pictures of your dog, people might be more excited to see your art, and they don't really wanna see your dog, so they're not gonna follow you for that reason, because you're not posting about the thing they're most interested in. But if they're interested in dogs, that's great. It's sort of a complicated idea that we wanna be able to share a variety of things, but kind of sticking within the thing that we most wanna be known for. If you're an artist, you don't only have to post photos of your work, but it's important to have it peppered throughout enough that people feel like they're gonna trust that they're gonna be able to come back and see more of your process, see more of your creativity at work, rather than all of the other things that are going on in your life. Timing is the last part of consistency that we're gonna talk about here, and it's actually kind of a big one. I think that we're talking about the consistency in the visuals, we're talking about consistency in theme, but the other big one is timing, and how often we're coming to share this type of content. So essentially, we wanna make sure that we're showing up for our fans and our followers on a regular basis, and sharing with them so that they know we're still active. They know that we're still doing work that they wanna see. They know that we're gonna be there for them, providing things that are of interest, so that their follow is worth something. 'Cause they don't wanna click follow if you're only posting once a month or once a year. It's not enough for them to wanna warrant that follow. So another example of consistency that we can talk about in terms of visual social media, Pinterest is actually a great place to get this really consistent visual approach across. This is my friend Jessica Comingore. She's a blogger, and she has a really consistent visual perspective. So if you come across a profile like this on Pinterest, you're gonna think wow, I really love that there's a lot of beautiful neutrals. We're looking at a lot of gorgeous tonal things that are having to do with all pretty much on one or two themes here. We've got interior decorating, sort of beautiful home design and home decor, maybe a little bit about entertaining or maybe some cooking in here, where it's basically just centered around the theme of refined living in general, and you can see that her visuals are consistent, so it inspires us to feel like we can trust her. We can trust that she's gonna have a consistent point of view, and a style, that if we are into this, we're gonna see this on a consistent basis. There's no reason to think that she would suddenly start posting really bright photos, or really dark, moody photos. We're pretty much gonna expect that because she's set up this visual consistency for us, that we can click follow if this appeals to us, 'cause she's gonna provide more of that. And so we wanna build trust through consistency, and that's, again, through the visuals, through the theme, and through timing, making sure we're showing up for our followers and giving them enough to really enjoy and soak that up. And so, when we're talking about consistency, the way to create that is to identify the voice of your brand. Talking a little bit about what's most important to our brand, and how are we gonna put that out there, both in visuals, as well in text. We're gonna touch on that a little bit later today. And the concept that I really like to use when I'm talking about this is the visual vocabulary. This is kind of a different way to put it than maybe branding, or some of the other terms that you might have heard about how to create consistency in visuals. A visual vocabulary kind of goes beyond just what a photo looks like, and taps into more of what the theme or the subject of these photos might be, and we wanna create consistency, hitting on kind of a few of these attributes, right? So we don't have to have everything be the exact same color, or the exact same tone, or on the exact same theme, but we wanna kinda figure out, what's the most important out of these different things within a visual vocabulary? What attributes do we really wanna single out for our brand that we wanna make sure that we're hitting on those on a regular basis, and creating that consistency. So for some people, like Jessica, let me go back to her work, that's sometimes to do with color and tone. She's got a consistent theme of the sort of interior design, the home decor stuff, but there's enough variation in between the photos that it doesn't become boring or one-note, so we wanna go ahead and choose what attributes we wanna select for our company, or our brand, or just our persona, and go ahead and start to personify those in the work that we're putting out there. And so, this process is just a guide. Choosing some of these colors or themes for your business, it doesn't have to be really rigid rules. It doesn't have to be something that you're like, oh I can't post this photo. It's purple and my brand colors are blue and green. I guess I'll throw this away. You can definitely deviate from these things. It doesn't have to be a really rigid structure that you're trapped in. This is a guide. This is something that's gonna actually help you creating content, because it's gonna help to give you guidelines to work within, and it's actually gonna be a little bit easier. I think a little bit of what happens, especially as creatives, you guys may have had this happen before, but the terror of starting with a blank page in a notebook. Oh my god, that can completely derail the creative process. Looking at a blank page and thinking, I don't know where to start. I don't know how to start working on this project. Even if you're feeling inspired, that blank page and not knowing what the first step is can feel really overwhelming. And I think this is a little bit similar in concept, because having this visual vocabulary is going to help us know what first steps we can potentially take. It's gonna say, okay, we know what our brand colors are. What's around us in the studio today that's kind of gonna help us get those brand colors across? What can I look at that's gonna touch on some of these themes that are important for my business? And it's gonna give you a little bit of a roadmap for how to start creating that content. It's also gonna help us establish that signature style, and make us more instantly recognizable to our fans, so having consistency in visuals, like I said, is gonna make it easier for folks to click that follow button, click that like button, because they're gonna have this trust that they know what's coming down the road from you. They are gonna know that it's worthwhile to sit there and tell you, I wanna know more about this person. I'm gonna click follow. So if we're thinking about how to figure out what our unique visual vocabulary is, especially if our businesses are already established, we can kind of look in the rear-view and think about what are we already sharing? What have we already posted that is gonna be able to establish these patterns for us? So if you're already on social platforms, like Pinterest, like Instagram, even Facebook and Twitter, if you're sharing visual content there, look for the patterns in what you have already been sharing. Think about the things that you've shared that you're really excited about, or that have gotten a lot of engagement already, because probably, if you've gotten started, you do have some fans and followers who hopefully are chiming in and offering their feedback. But even if you don't, just think about what's really getting you excited about posting on social media, and add that to your list of your visual vocabulary, because we wanna kind of go after the things that make us feel most excited to be on these platforms, because that's gonna help us in the long-term, to want to stay engaged, to wanna show up and continue offering this content. So now that we've kinda gone through this idea of a visual vocabulary, I'd love to challenge you guys, as well as the folks who are out there watching live, go ahead and share this list of three attributes, three elements of that visual vocabulary, that you think you'd like to associate with your brand, that help to embody those brand values. And we're just gonna make a list of three, and that's a great place to start. It's a great place to sort of start that roadmap, and figure out what type of work are you gonna feel comfortable sharing on a regular basis, and really embodies the things that are most important to you to share.