Think big. Be different.

Real-World Identity, Meet Social Media Flair

By Julie Neidlinger on April 6, 2012 in News.

Our digital social media identity has repeatedly gone through changes, most recently as Facebook put Profiles and Pages through a Timeline overhaul. How is our analog identity faring? Is it still stumbling around in caves, hunting woolly mammoths?

It's easy to change the look of our identity in the digital realm. How about the analog?

Our new business cards arrived here at Todaymade, and we’re starting to feel like we’ve finally found our identity. With all the social media platforms and profiles we manage and use, it’s easy to develop a split personality. Throw in our identity in the analog world — like business cards — and things get out of control quickly.

No Twins Here

Initially, the business cards at Todaymade were pretty much identical in every way, except for the name. While it might seem that a cohesive look is a good way to present a unified brand message, it…isn’t.

Traditional business card rules would say that within a brand the look should be the same across the board, otherwise we look like an unfettered mess of randomness where the workers bees have run amuck. The simple solution is to have, literally, the exact same visual look and just change out the name of the person and their contact information. That seems pretty professional. That seems orderly. That seems logical.

Two of a kind: worked great for Noah, not so good for business cards.

Let’s forget about the simple solution. Let’s try the best solution: unifying theme for the brand, completely unique look for the individual. Why?

Because our brand is made up of unique people, not mindless members of a hive.

Unified Message, Unique Individual

Yes, it is possible to stand under the same umbrella and not morph into each other. We can be unified, and still unique. For a social brand, there really isn’t any other alternative. It’s hard to stay real and build trust and expertise when our business card says “hey, I’m pretty much the same as that guy over there.”

Facebook realized this need to be individual, and also acknowledged another important truth: we like pictures.

Facebook used that to help its users present a message about their brand and themselves by offering a chance for a broad statement (Cover Photo) and a specific statement (Profile Image). Users can say broadly who they are or what they are interested in, and then specifically say “this is who I am.”

We decided to give a nod to the Facebook Timeline and this identity solution, and set our business cards up to reflect the look of a larger Cover Photo and a smaller Profile Image. We added our Twitter handle to each card, and for the Profile Image, we used a photo of each of us; photos on cards aren’t just for realtors anymore. We used different larger images from the office to mimic the Cover Photo.┬áIt’s the perfect way to be both unified and unique: same layout, clearly related, but unique elements within that structure.

It's about being a team, and not a member of a hive.

There are other solutions, of course. The key is to choose the underlying structure that will unify, and then make the elements built on that unique to each person.

The Two Dimensional Card

No, we didn’t toss our logo out the door. It is our brand’s look, and we’re not really interested in dumping it. The back side of our card features the recognizable Todaymade logo and look. It serves as the umbrella under which we all stand. So, one side is the brand, and the other side are the people who are part of it.

Let’s reconsider what the business card offers, as far as real estate. It has a front, and it has a back. It should let the recipient know who the person is and what they do, and it should tell them the name of the company or brand they are associated with. Two duties, coincidentally, work really well with a two-sided card.

However the two-sidedness is handled, it’s a shame to ignore the back of the card. It’s like using half a billboard.

Social Media Unplugged

We keep our profiles on Facebook and Google+ updated and current. We tweak our Twitter. We customize our site so that it meshes seamlessly with our social media activities. Why do we let the analog identity lag behind? Social media is a lifestyle, and for a brand, it carries across the entire identity, whether on paper on on the screen.

What elements are we using on our profiles? What are we known for on social media? How can we connect that rich online presence to the offline materials?

Find the answers to those questions, and you’ll find yourself ordering some new business cards and other brand identity materials. The analog will mesh with the digital, and the universe will sigh in relief.