Social media marketing is a pretty visually-heavy medium. Ranging from banners on Facebook to the videos on Twitter and the infographics you find on Instagram – each channel is dominated by visually pleasing and aesthetic visual content.
Developing good visual content that stands out from all other similar content on all social media platforms can often be a daunting task for marketers.
To add to this, the decision between staying on-brand vs. staying on-trend can be a difficult one. Staying on-brand refers to creating content that is cohesive with your brand identity, whereas staying on-trend refers to creating content that is trending irrespective of its significance and meaning in your brand identity. Each of these strategies has its pros and cons, and it is essential to strike a balance between the two.
If marketers abide by staying on-brand completely, they might be at risk of creating content that can be thought of as outdated. However, if marketers abide by staying on-trend, they might risk their brand image by aligning themselves with content that doesn’t speak of what they are.
How Does One Settle This Debate?
The situation poses different challenges and different opportunities for each brand in a truly unique way.
For instance, a legacy brand such as Chanel absolutely cannot jump on the bandwagon of staying on-trend and create memes for its digital presence. Not only would that risk its sophistication but also seem a bit immature coming from a brand like Chanel.
However, if Chanel decides to follow inclusion and diversity in its digital marketing (which it already does!), it would further add positively to its brand image and make it seem more progressive – something that legacy fashion brands aren’t usually thought of as.
Hence, an on-brand vs. on-trend debate is unique to each brand, and every marketer should develop their respective social media strategy depending upon their brand’s line of business, digital presence, digital Identity, audience, target markets, and cultural representation.
Why Would One Choose To Be On-Trend?
Marketers may choose to opt for the on-trend strategy for several reasons. A lot of the current visual trends include clean, muted colours and serif fonts that give off a quaint yet chic aesthetic. Not just this, but such content is easier to relate to and creates more engagement.
When you consider the marketing insights involved, content that gets more engagement in the form of likes, comments, and saves on Instagram, is automatically ranked higher on the social media platform’s algorithm.
Additionally, staying on-trend correlates with your brand staying relevant to its target audience. This is especially true when your target audience is comprised of individuals between the ages of 15-25.
Why Would One Choose To Be On-Brand?
Marketers, conversely, may choose to opt for the on-brand strategy for several other compelling reasons.
By practising consistency in your digital content, you are likely to constantly add to your brand identity. In general, individuals require about 5-7 visual brand interactions to associate your brand to a certain identity. Hence, sticking to your aesthetic and not upping it every time a new trend (or fad) shows up helps you build a unique brand identity.
However, doing so may also risk your brand, giving off a pretty stubborn persona.
How To Find The Middle Ground?
It is indeed very difficult to strike a balance between being on-trend and on-brand. One way of doing so is to only opt for trending aesthetics or content if they aren’t very risky and don’t land too far away from your brand identity.
For instance, using crisp and muted color palettes in your digital content is not a very risky move and is just enough for you to seem relevant and on-trend as a brand.
Another way of doing so is being seasonal in jumping on the on-trend bandwagon.
For instance, if it’s the holidays and all your competitors are coming up with a similar holiday campaign such as 12 Days of XYZ, you ought to do the same, or else as a brand, you may seem too unbothered and prude. Additionally, seasonality also keeps your brand image intact as being on-trend and deviating from your usual content, when done seasonally, gives off the message that this new branding is temporary.
Types Of Visual Content That Can Help You Strike A Balance
There are certain types of visual content that, no matter the context, is a foolproof way to help you strike a balance between on-trend and on-brand.
Graphics / Vector Images
Since textual content is an integral part of your digital content, graphics and vector images featuring text are a great way to disseminate information with.
Whether it is a new store you are opening, a site-wide sale or a new part of your collection, vectors and graphics are both trendy and easy to incorporate into digital content without comprising your brand identity. However, it is important to note that the colour palette you employ should be in cohesion with your brand image.
Whether you are creating a simple show-case video, or a detailed demonstration or testimonial, videos are a great way to strike a balance between the two content strategies.
If you incorporate certain features into your videos, such as limited textual content, and the video overall remains congruent to your brand identity, you are good to go. Videos are also a classic and ever-popular form of visual content and are evolving with the ongoing trend of posting live videos.
BTS or Behind the Scene is a classic visual content type.
BTS can be created in both forms, pictorial and video. BTS is also currently trending in the digital content space and has become an important component of any company’s social media marketing.
Whether your brand’s line of operations is fashion, marketing, commercial, services, or IT, BTS is a very fit-to-all type of visual content that applies to all brands irrespective of their domains. While they are a risk-free way to stay on-trend, you need to present them in a way that makes them congruent with your brand image rather than compromising it.