The Essential Guide to Social Media Branding

Social media branding

Social media is one of the best ways to connect with your target audience. It’s often one of the first touch points users might have with your business, introducing them to your brand and what you offer, and it’s an incredible way to build long-term relationships with interested users who can eventually become customers.

This doesn’t just happen instantly, however, and social media marketing for businesses requires more than a few random posts with philosophical quotes attached; you need to have a strategy in place to help you brand and represent your business in a meaningful way. Branding on social media involves a series of decisions that will help you stand out, connect with your audience, and make a big (and strong!) impression.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at 3 crucial elements of social media branding: the voice, the visual, and the awareness strategies you need.

Why You Need Intentional Branding

Branding is going to be what helps you stand out on social media, setting you apart from hundreds if not thousands of other competitors. It will help your audience recognize you consistently, and keep them interested enough to follow you, engage with you, and purchase from you.

“Branding” is going to involve multiple facets of your social media presence, and it all comes down to how your audience perceives you. Your branding can include how you interact with your audience, the types of content you share, the missions that are important to you, the images you use, and so much more. Part of it is what you tell your audience the brand is, but the rest is how they interpret it.

Establishing Your Social Media Branding Voice

Your voice is going to be one of the first things you need to consider when approaching social media. This includes the tone that you’re writing in, but also the sorts of content you post.

Wendy’s, for example, has an extremely defined brand voice that includes joking constantly and roasting their competitors and customers alike. One gym, for example, might be focused on inclusive wellness and positivity, while others might be aggressive about helping you to reach your goals. The language here will be different, which you can see in the two following examples:

Planet Fitness is all about positive vibes, and most of their posts focus on sharing positive and gentle encouragement. It’s a gym that stresses inclusivity, and I know I’ve seen people wearing jeans and sandals working out at my local branch.

social media branding on Instagram

Backbone Barbell, on the other hand, is a small boutique gym for powerlifters, and these guys go hard. Their messaging is a little more aggressive, focusing on take action right now. They’re still supportive, it’s still a positive message, but it’s one that is ready to hold you accountable, too, just like their gym.

branding your Instagram account

These are two very different brand voices, and they’ll include how you write your profiles’ “About” sections all the way down to how you interact with your target audience. Casper, for example, has a recognizable light-hearted brand voice that’s casual and friendly. You can see this in their posts and in how they interact with their followers.

casper social media branding

It’s important to decide on your brand voice first, because you need it to be cohesive with your look, which should be based on how you want to come across to your audience. An aggressive life-isn’t-waiting-on-you approach would hardly make sense with light, airy images, for example. Get this down first, and then move on to the branding look.

Establishing Your Social Media Branding Look

Here at Snappa, it’s not surprising that we’re all about the visual, knowing the importance of having a distinctive, branded look that aligns with your brand voice.

There are several different types of images that you’ll need to have on social media, so let’s take a look at each type and how to leverage it to establish a stronger and more distinct brand.

Profile Images

A lot of businesses will have a Facebook profile, an Instagram, a YouTube channel, a Pinterest, a Snapchat, and a Twitter, or some combination of those platforms. Theoretically, you can choose a different profile picture for each one if you wanted to… but you shouldn’t.

To create a distinctive, seamless brand that’s instantly recognizable across all social channels (which you absolutely want to establish credibility and brand recognition), you’ll want to use the same profile image for each different platform. This will ideally be your brand logo, which again will help you in terms of brand familiarity.

social media profile picture example


Lowes instagram profile photo


Lowes Youtube profile picture



Most profile pictures work with a 100×100 pixel image, but you can use Snappa to resize your logo if needed to fit each profile picture’s dimensions accordingly.

If you need to, you can simplify your logo; you want it to be easy to make out as a small thumbnail, so use contrasting colors and simple designs for best results.

Cover & Banner Images

Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter all allow for cover photos, or “headers” or “banners” (the name depends on the individual platform).

social media cover photo branding

Ideally, your banner should correlate well with your profile picture in terms of color and style for that cohesive look, but you can use that cover photo to offer more context into what your business does and who you are.

Sometimes, you can use your cover photo to promote special events or fundraisers that you want to draw attention to. This helps support your brand and helps you to gain favor.

costco cover photo and banner

The cover image can also be simple, using your branded colors and feature your full brand name and/or tagline, along with links to your social profiles. We did this at Snappa, and you can easily recreate this with our drag-and-drop design software in just a few minutes.

branded youtube channel art

There’s also the option to showcase the feel and emotion you want your brand to evoke, especially with some product placement added in.

branded facebook cover photo

With this option, make sure you’re using Snappa to ensure the image is perfectly cropped so that it will upload correctly. This is particularly important on Facebook, which will crop the images differently on mobile and on desktop. We’ll indicate this for you in the design process, as you can see here:

creating social media branding

Content Images

Each individual post you upload to each channel needs to be in line with your brand look. This is why about 60% of brands use the same exact Instagram filter on every single post; it helps give them a more cohesive look that their followers will recognize.

Consider how you want your images to look, and note that you don’t have to have similar, cookie-cutter images. Instead, opt for consistent choices like light and airy (like the example below from Orgain’s Instagram), or high contrast and sharp, or maybe even adding in some of your brand colors.

brand colors for social media branding

Snappa has an enormous file of stock photos that can help with this, allowing you to find ready-made high resolution images that fall in line with what you’re looking for. We’ve also got graphics that you can use as needed, and you can customize all images until they have that perfect branded look you’re going for.

You can also use Snappa to insert graphics, logos, or text overlay (including your brand name!) on images that will become pins. This ensures that people are always able to trace the content back to you as it gets repined again and again and again.

pinterest branding

Establishing Brand Awareness Strategies

After you’ve got your brand voice and image ready to go, the next step is to develop strategies to help you establish brand awareness and really hone in on what your business is all about.

There are a few that we recommend, including:

  • Creating a unique branded hashtag for your business, and feature it on Instagram and Twitter. People can use this to share user-generated content that they create, which can go a long way in reaching and impressing new audience members. Examples include #loveloft and #violetcodeapproved. It goes without saying that your branded hashtags should align with your brand voice.
    branded hashtags
  • Consider running social contests. Contests are a great way to get a lot of attention on your brand quickly, and you can come up with a great theme to keep people interested and further your brand, too. Use the prize, the contest, and partnering companies to help with this! Last year, for example, a gelato shop I worked with ran a social media contest encouraging users to bring in their dogs for a frozen treat and get the most votes on social to win a gift card and a free vet visit at the local clinic. It was an enormous hit, solidifying the shop as a family place and a part of the community.
    social media branded contests
  • Offer valuable information your audience will love. Every post on social media shouldn’t be about your business. This, ironically enough, is the best way to promote your business. Use some posts like content marketing, sharing valuable tips your followers would find valuable. Gyms can offer nutrition advice or recipes; a florist might offer tips to keep your sunflowers blooming into the fall. You typically won’t make a lot of sales directly on this content, but it helps to establish you as an expert and keeps followers engaged.
    facebook branding


It’s difficult enough to get people to your social media profiles, you don’t want to risk losing them once they’re there because your content is just kind of okay. If you aren’t offering something that’s different from everyone else, it will be harder to gain followers and brand recognition, but creating a distinctive brand will not only help people recognize you, but trust you. Your followers will feel like they can understand who you are as a business and what you represent, and that’s a key part of winning over customers today.

Make sure that you’re using our three-pronged approach to create a powerful and consistent presence on social media that people will immediately take notice of and remember, whether they’re just seeing an image or reading your post. It’s the best way to get and keep people on board!

Interested in stepping up your visual branding game on social media? You know we’ve got you covered there. Start your free trial with Snappa to create engaging images, alter content to best suit each platform, and even access our enormous library of high quality stock photos. 

What do you think? How have you established a brand for your business on social media? Are there are businesses who are knocking it out of the park? Share your thoughts, questions, and favorite examples in the comments below! 

About the author: Nick Le is the marketing manager at Snappa. He has published several articles relating to social media marketing.