Defining and Embracing Your Authentic Brand Aesthetic
In the last 5 years or so, you’ve probably heard the word “aesthetic” tossed around like a hot potato. If you haven’t, then you might not be using social media for brand marketing, and you should probably read this first.
Despite being a pretty old word with artistic origins, the meaning of aesthetic has evolved and broadened; rising up to meet the need for an overarching term capable of defining visual branding in the age of social media. Once modern influencers and artists got a taste of this all-encompassing idea, they grabbed right onto it and stretched its meaning even further. The definition of the word didn’t inherently change, it just adapted to fit into the context of a modern, high tech world.
In 2019, defining your brand aesthetic means creating, embracing, and committing to a combination of unique elements that are reflected in everything relating to your brand. Those elements can include color, a design style (minimalist, glam, edgy, etc.), and a language or “brand culture” that resonates with your target market. In short, today’s definition of aesthetic isn’t just about how it looks, it’s about how it makes your customers feel. Let’s break it down a little further, shall we?
Color Matters …Kind Of.
Honestly, your brand can totally work with any color combination, even a seriously weird or traditionally “ugly” one. Similarly, you can make a fairly boring combination of colors feel personal and unique if you actually commit to using them (in your logo, on your website, in social media content, styled photography, etc.) Whether you’re leaning toward a super specific combination of Pantone hues, or you’re a chromaphobe who wants almost everything to be black and white, it straight up DOESN’T MATTER what hues you choose as long as you commit to them.
Finding a color palette comes easy to some, and takes a little more inspiration for others. If you have it in your head but can’t articulate the exact shade of “dusty pink/lavender” or “slimy yellow green” that you’re imagining, it’s time to become best friends with HEX (hexadecimal) code. This alphanumeric code gives us identifiers for every color ever. It’s equally handy for the designers who will ultimately be responsible for making your gorgeous logo or stylish website, not digging for the perfect shade of “something between periwinkle and blue-grey.” To get started on your color journey, check out this post. It has the tools you need to get inspired.
Style is Intentional, Not Accidental. There’s a BIG Difference!
Similarly, there’s a difference between having a sparse, bare-bones online presence and having an intentionally minimalistic aesthetic. Defining your brand’s aesthetic style is not something to scoff at, because it has to happen, and when it does, you have to really lean into it – or none of your marketing materials will feel authentic. Imagine being in a mall, walking from store to store and looking at the window displays. You see a store window with colorful home decor that immediately appeals to you. When you go inside the store, you notice that all of the home decor is drab, colorless, dated, and not at all what the window display suggested. You feel duped. You leave the store. DO NOT be that store.
From glitzy and glamorous, to rustic, dark and edgy, clean and clinical, industrial, chic and mature, girly and youthful, whimsical and bohemian, there is no shortage of styles that might be a good fit for your brand. With that said, the choice is completely COMPLETELY up to you, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to choose a style that other brands in similar industries have chosen. The idea is to stand out and establish an aesthetic that sets you apart from competitors, not blend in with them. Use Pinterest to research styles that you like, consider fonts that fit, imagery, graphics, and remember that the incorporation of your color palette will completely transform any of these style elements, tailoring them to fit together flawlessly.
Establishing brand culture has a whole lot to do with language, and recognizing the nuances that can attract or repel your audience. Just like in the physical, non-internet world, the way we speak to people says a lot about who we are, and the same is very true for your brand. It all begins with identifying brands you admire, then taking a deep dive into the customers who are interacting with them. You can learn a lot by spending an hour looking at the social media activity of other brands and their followers. Ye olde marketers used to place a lot of weight on defining the gender of your target client, but it’s 2019 and for the most part that isn’t necessary or appropriate. Obviously, there are a few exceptions (we see you, tampon companies.) but otherwise, keep things neutral and honest – like you’re addressing a room full of people who you respect.
There are a lot of opportunities to communicate with readers, all of whom are potential customers. Every word you choose is a reflection of your brand culture, so it all matters! From social media posts to blog posts, newsletters, and pages of your website, every opportunity to address your audience is a chance to show them what you’re all about. Know that using too much modern slang, or referencing something dated could pigeonhole certain age groups, so be mindful of the generations you’re selling to. When it comes to crafting social media and website content that deeply resonates with your dream customers, you’ll benefit from working with a professional copywriter. Copywriters are well versed in writing for a wide range of industries, so they’ll enjoy the challenge of creating a brand voice that truly reflects your style and promotes engagement with your target clientele.
As we’ve established, defining your brand’s aesthetic involves a lot of thought, effort, and research. It might not be a walk in the park, but it’s necessary, worthwhile, and absolutely crucial for marketing your products and services to today’s customers. Gone are the days when being vague, generic, and flavorless led to success. Being “just as good” as your competitor isn’t enough. Not even close. By assigning your brand a unique, memorable, and authentic aesthetic that remains clear and defined through every facet of marketing, you’re giving yourself a gift that will keep on giving.
As always, if you need help with anything mentioned here, we can do that too!