What Brand Visuals Say About You

twitterfriendsSome of my Twitter friends have recently changed their profile pictures. It was somewhat disconcerting for me because I recognize their posts by their pictures, not their harder-to-see Twitter names. But, it got me thinking about branding—brand visuals or symbols to be exact.

Here are some of my thoughts on the importance of associating symbols or visual image with a brand:

1) Personal Branding. In social media, the first brand association for you is usually your profile picture. What does it say about you?

If you use Twitter primarily as a socially engaging entertainment platform, then having a whimsical, funny or even kooky profile picture makes sense. You want to show this side of your personality and your interests.

However, if your main motivation to be on Twitter is to brand yourself professionally and to grow your Twitter following in your area of expertise, then think critically about what your profile picture is conveying. Say you want to be known as a marketing consultant. If your profile photo is a fuzzy shot of you with a fishing rod, one’s first reaction might be that this person does not do a good job of marketing himself.

Remember that in branding, consistency is key. Changing your photo regularly will make it difficult for your followers to find you in the Twitter stream.

petairwayswebsite2) Corporate branding. Never a day goes by without me shaking my head about the symbols, pictures or look and feel that companies use to represent their brands. So often they are totally wrong for the image that they are trying to convey.

I have had clients who were enamored with a certain look without regard to whether the look matched their stated brand personality and strategy.

One client wanted all black business cards with red and white accents that had a distinctly macho Las Vegas feel. Only when reminded that their largely female customer base might be put off by this visual machoism did this professional services client back off from the gangster look.

A long-time acquaintance of mine just launched PetAirways, the pet-only airline, and when I went to their website, I literally said, “Yes!” Not only was the logo and tagline spot on (see the graphic), but the entire site was simple, sincere and exuded pet-friendliness.

This is just one of so many examples of companies doing it right with their brand. Based on my knowledge of the Pet Airways founders, I’m sure they are living their brand and delivering on its promise.

Visual branding can confuse your audience if done poorly, but when done right, it reaffirms everything we want to believe about a brand. What are your favorite brand symbols and why do you think they work?


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