An introduction to brand building through social media


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When someone hears the name of your company, what images and ideas come to mind?

By building a strong brand that represents your company’s mission, personality, and expertise, your community will know what sets you apart. And social media is one of the most important tools when it comes to establishing your brand, as it provides an opportunity to regularly share ideas, photos, videos, cartoons(opens in a new tab or window), and little snippets of your company’s personality.

And for young people, social media platforms like TikTok serve as their primary search engine(opens in a new tab or window), so brands without a social presence risk losing out on Gen Z and Millennial consumers.

Developing your company’s visual identity is a significant part of brand building, but you can make your company even more memorable by coupling your unique look with great storytelling and a consistent voice and tone.

How you approach building your brand on social media and beyond will vary depending on the size of your design, social, and strategy teams. But the goal of brand work will always be increasing brand awareness, which is the measure of how many people know about your company. And by increasing your brand awareness, you can start to make it into more sales decisions, and ultimately grow your business.

We’ll get into 10 brand building strategies that teams across industries can use on social media to help differentiate their company and products.

Table of contents

What is a brand?

A brand is how your company is perceived by the public, heavily influenced by design and copy choices that make a company or product recognizable and memorable(opens in a new tab or window).

A brand is composed of a color scheme, font choices, a logo and its variants, and any other design elements that you build into your website, social pages, packaging, and any other company materials. A company’s voice and tone is also part of their brand, showcased through word choices and the various emotions they aim to evoke in their content.

A brand identity(opens in a new tab or window) is the combination of the name of your company, your overall look and feel, what you do, and what makes you stand out — it’s the elevator pitch that you want your community to be able to give on your behalf. And consumers will form perceptions of your company whether or not you invest in your brand, so proactively and strategically building your brand(opens in a new tab or window) is the best way to ensure your company mission and values are coming across.

A brand presence on social media requires a consistent profile and brand image across social media platforms and direct connections with followers in the brand voice and tone. Typically, a strong brand presence on social is associated with an engaged audience and loyal brand followers.

Why is branding important?

Branding is important because it helps your business stick in the minds of your target audience. Consumers are faced with near-infinite choices, so having a consistent brand that differentiates your business is key to growing your company. Your product could be the best in the industry, but if your target audience doesn’t remember you exist, they won’t be making a purchase from you.

Some great brand identity examples include McDonald’s golden arches, Nike’s black and white swoosh, Apple’s white computers and bitten apple logo, and Wendy’s social media silliness — but brand building isn’t just for massive corporations. Shuggie’s Pizza in California(opens in a new tab or window) uses uber-maximalist decor and neon colors across all their online and IRL environments to make them unforgettable. Glossier’s pink, white, and muted aesthetic(opens in a new tab or window) set them apart and kicked off years of beauty trends. And Duolingo’s bright green owl(opens in a new tab or window), cheeky animations, and fun social media presence help them attract more users.

What’s the difference between a brand, branding, and brand building?

Brand building is the collaborative process done by marketing, design, and executive teams to decide on the look, feel, and personality of a company. Brand building also includes developing an established brand presence.

Branding can be the process of creating a brand identity, applying your brand identity to marketing and sales materials, or using your brand elements and guidelines on social media to make your company stand out.

A brand is the outcome of that work: a company’s recognizable and memorable look and feel.

What makes a strong social media brand presence?

A strong brand presence on social media is consistent, tells compelling stories, has a unique voice, and stands out among the crowd.

1. Consistency

The teams that work to build your brand are in charge of making the decisions of how they want the company to be perceived. But the most important part about brand building is consistent implementation(opens in a new tab or window). Everyone who creates external-facing materials at your company needs to know the exact correct colors, fonts, and elements to use. And, your brand presence on social media should match your overall marketing goals and target audience (which may not mean profiles on every single social media platform).

In order to help the entire company stick to the brand parameters, branding teams often create style guides(opens in a new tab or window), a voice and tone guide, and examples of how to implement the brand in various types of social media content.

Canva’s Brand Kits help teams of all sizes create brand-approved content(opens in a new tab or window), with fonts, colors, logos, and brand templates available right in the platform.

A sample Canva Brand Kit for a yoga/wellness brand including brand fonts, logos, and colors.

2. Brand storytelling

Part of building a compelling brand is telling the story of your company, your people, and the impact of your products. With every social media post, every email newsletter, and every product label, you have an opportunity to share stories that resonate with your audience.

With a little bit of extra thought, brands can easily take their copy from statements to stories. Don’t just say “We released a new product. Here it is.” Instead, show your audiences why you built it, who worked on it, how it came to life, and how it’ll impact their day-to-day life. Telling memorable stories helps appeal to the emotions of your consumers, which helps your company stand out from the pack.

A behind-the-scenes photo of a brand video shoot with a woman wearing headphones and showing a book, and a man recording with a tripod.

Here are some questions you can answer to kick off your brand brainstorming session (or get started with brainstorming using an online whiteboard(opens in a new tab or window))

  1. Why does your company exist?
  2. How can you highlight the contributions of individual employees?
  3. How has your product impacted different types of users?
  4. How did your team develop your newest product?
  5. What keeps your founders dedicated to the business?
  6. How does your company embody your mission and purpose?
  7. How can different product bundles help consumers reach their goals?

3. A unique voice

There’s so much variety in how a brand voice can sound. Some industries, like pharmaceuticals, engineering, and government, tend to favor brand voices that are more formal, serious, and sometimes authoritative. Other industries, like beauty and wellness, tech, gaming, sports, and food and beverage find success in getting a little cheeky and keeping their copy very casual.

Whatever type of voice and tone works for your company, make sure it’s uniquely you and that your voice helps you stand out from your competitors.’

When developing a brand voice, consider the following questions:

  1. Who is your target audience and how do they speak?
  2. Is your product meant to alleviate a serious problem? Or bring some fun and excitement into the user’s life?
  3. How would you want your consumers to talk about your product and your company?

Come up with a few adjectives that describe how you want to talk to your community, and start building a brand voice that reflects how you want your community to feel when they interact with your brand. Provide examples for how you’d use your brand voice in different contexts and on different channels, from social posts to ecommerce flow copy.

4. A unique look

Your brand’s color scheme and fonts shouldn’t be like that of any other company — especially in your industry. Dig into what your competitors’ brands look like and find a way to create something totally different. If all your competitors’ websites are mostly blue, gray, black, and white, go bolder and experiment with purple or yellow. If your industry is full of bright colors and kooky fonts, try taking a more minimalist approach. Same goes for your fonts and logo.

Make sure that your brand follows web accessibility guidelines(opens in a new tab or window), such as having enough contrast between your fonts and background colors.

How do you build a brand using social media?

Creating a brand involves four basic steps: identifying your mission and brand story, building your brand identity design with visuals and voice, creating a brand management strategy with templates, and implementing your brand into all materials.

For all brand decisions, it’s common to have many opinions weighing in on what’s best. With Canva’s design collaboration tools(opens in a new tab or window), live changes are reflected everywhere and there’s no need to go back and forth with versions and updates.

The four steps of the brand building process

Here’s how to create a brand identity in four steps:

1. Identify your purpose, mission, vision, and values and align them with your target audience to tell your brand story

Before you start telling people who you are, you need to make sure you know who you are. Write down your company purpose, mission, vision, and values, and make sure they resonate with your target audience.

Your company purpose is the big “Why” behind your business. What you hope to achieve by starting and growing your company. What problem do you hope to solve?

Your company mission(opens in a new tab or window) is about the “How.” How will you achieve your goals, and what will it look like when you do?

Your company vision is where you hope your company will be in a given time frame. What will next year look like? What about 10 years from now?

And your company values are how you behave as a company, and how your employees treat each other, as you work to achieve your goals.

Once you have all of that down, run it by your community, either on social media or in a focus group. Gather feedback, tweak your messaging as necessary, and prepare to embody it every day.

2. Develop your brand identity with visual brand elements and a consistent voice

Once you know what your company stands for and what kind of stories you want to tell, it’s time to choose how your brand will look and sound while you do it.

There are three major visual choices for your brand: your brand colors(opens in a new tab or window), your fonts, and your logo.

Choosing a color scheme involves a lot of trial and error, and Canva can help make it go much more quickly. With galleries of thousands of color palettes(opens in a new tab or window), you can try out infinite color combinations until you find the one that speaks to you.

When choosing fonts, brands tend to choose one distinctive, unique font for headings and for the logo, and pair it with a simpler font for subheadings and body text. This curated list of 20 font pairings(opens in a new tab or window) can help you start testing combinations and learn which ones look good together.

And once you have your color scheme and your fonts, it’s time to design a logo. Use Canva’s millions of graphics and images(opens in a new tab or window) in your logo, create your own vectors using the AI vector generator(opens in a new tab or window), or try over 40,000 customizable logo templates(opens in a new tab or window).

Copywriters can then build a voice and tone guide so everyone who writes anything for your company materials knows what represents the company and what doesn’t.

3. Create a digital brand management strategy and style guide with templates

Design and marketing teams must empower everyone at the company to stick to the brand guidelines they’ve chosen. That means creating a brand style guide(opens in a new tab or window) that anyone can refer to whenever they’re designing anything, from a pitch deck to product packaging to social media posts.

Then, design teams can achieve their strategic brand management(opens in a new tab or window) goals by creating branded templates(opens in a new tab or window) for every type of content made at the company. That way, all their teammates can clone and customize the templates. This keeps the design team from receiving too many requests, ensures brand compliance across all types of content, and saves hours for teammates without design skills trying to make a presentation look right.

Here are some examples of branded templates to create for company-wide brand management:

Examples of customizable Canva templates and Instagram posts that have been edited with two brand identities.

Social media brand management resources for teams

During the beginning of your brand implementation, your company will rely heavily on templates and your style guide. Creating templates with locked elements(opens in a new tab or window) for everyone to use is the secret to consistent branding.

But as time goes on, some teams, especially those that create a lot of content like social teams, can go off-book and create designs from scratch. To ensure they’re still always sticking to the parameters your design team created, keep your Brand Kit(opens in a new tab or window) up to date.

The Brand Kit stores all your brand parameters — your fonts and what they’re used for, every color in your palette, and images of your approved logos — right in the platform, so anyone can just click and design. Learn how to create a brand kit(opens in a new tab or window) and start saving everyone hours of design time.

And Canva’s Content Planner(opens in a new tab or window) also allows you to schedule your social content from right within the platform, saving your social team valuable time.

Canva’s Content Planner tool with a sample social media post being scheduled from Canva.

4. Incorporate your brand into marketing, sales, and visual communication designs

Everything produced at your company should reflect your brand, from sales presentations and email signatures to newsletters and internal Zoom backgrounds. A brand that’s implemented in both external and internal content will be stronger, because employees will be so familiar with your colors, fonts, and logos that they’ll have an easier time using it themselves when it comes time to create content.

The power of brand communities on social media

Social media brand communities come about when a company is willing to invest time and energy into their social media strategy, growing their followers and increasing engagement.

In 2022, more than 1B Facebook users post and comment in groups regularly and TikTok has curated strong communities(opens in a new tab or window) around niche topics and subgroups. Hootsuite’s 2022 Social Trends Report predicts a continued rise in social media communities and brands tapping into existing communities and online groups.

When social media communities are functioning at their best, followers come back to the page time and time again because they get value from what your company is sharing. And, when audiences find new brands from creators they love, they already have loyalty if they trust the creator’s recommendation.

Engaged social media pages help companies:

  1. Reach new prospects and generate leads
  2. Create opportunities for upsells and new business
  3. Help resolve technical and shipping issues without drama
  4. Build brand affinity — in other words, they make people like your brand

Here’s how you can create community and solidify your brand as one of the greats through social media.

10 ways to build your brand on social media

1. Build a community and provide free educational resources

Consumers have a lot of choice when it comes to choosing a product, and it’s not easy to get them to go to the next level and engage with a brand’s social media page. So how do you attract followers and keep them engaged? By sharing useful, actionable content that delights and helps your community in their day-to-day lives.

Educational resources, like checklists, guides, templates, and collections of tips and tricks relevant to your industry can go a long way. And designing them in Canva with your Brand Kit(opens in a new tab or window) means they’ll always be aligned with your brand’s visual story.

2. Enable brand ambassadors to create and share brand-approved content

Brand ambassadors are typically your happiest customers, the ones that write rave reviews and take the time to connect with your company. You can offer them incentives like discounts in exchange for having them post on your social media pages — for example, having a bookstore owner that’s so happy with his staff scheduling platform that he’s willing to film a “day in the life” video for your page, and post photos about how he’s implemented the system in his business.

When setting up these collaborations, set ambassadors up for success and brand compliance: Add them to your Canva account with limited permissions(opens in a new tab or window) — so they can use the platform, your templates(opens in a new tab or window), and Brand Kit(opens in a new tab or window) — and they’ll have everything they need to share their perspective while staying on brand.

3. Share multimedia content across legacy and emerging social media audiences

In order to build a robust and active social community, it’s important to test various platforms and see how they perform. Depending on your target audience, you might notice your photo posts(opens in a new tab or window) do better on Instagram versus Facebook, that infographics(opens in a new tab or window) do the best onLinkedIn(opens in a new tab or window), that TikTok is the perfect place to share behind-the-scenes videos(opens in a new tab or window) and primers on how to use your product,and Lemon8 is a new place to curate your content.(opens in a new tab or window). Try different branded social media templates(opens in a new tab or window) and compare their performance.

Dive into your social media analytics by using tools like Social Status(opens in a new tab or window) to find out which medium works on which channel, and always keep testing new platforms as they emerge and grow in popularity.

With Canva’s content planner you can schedule post directly from Canva across multiple platforms, see how it works:

4. Embrace short-form video content

Videos are a fantastic way to show off your company’s products and your personality. And according to HubSpot’s 2022 State of Marketing Trends Report(opens in a new tab or window), short-form video content is the most effective social media content format, and where marketers are dedicating the most resources.

Highlight your employees, film behind-the-scenes production videos, jump on viral trends — there are tons of ways to approach video content(opens in a new tab or window), and the medium is more accessible than ever. You can do so much with a smartphone camera and a simple video editor.

5. Refresh your brand regularly and share the behind-the-scenes brand building process with your audience

Nothing lasts forever. Tastes and trends change and consumer preferences evolve along with them. Smart brands keep an eye on their KPIs and on the competitive landscape, and they start the process of updating their brand identity, or rebranding(opens in a new tab or window), if they notice results are lagging.

When your company decides to rebrand, share the process on social media. Ask for input from your community, test out different looks and options, and gather feedback about your new look. Consumers love sharing their opinions, so let them!

6. Use audience polls and questions to learn more about your audience

Audience polls and questions are a powerful tool.

Not only can you use them as informal focus groups, but you can also use them to get your community talking so you can learn about their interests, values, and preferences.

7. Repurpose high-performing content for different mediums

If a blog post is getting tons of traction, don’t limit its potential: repurpose it instead. Create a short video(opens in a new tab or window) reading the main takeaways, or create a feed post or story that highlights the best quotes.

Canva’s Magic Switch(opens in a new tab or window) feature does the bulk of the work for you in just one click: design once, and you can resize the image to suit every social channel, and every type of post.

Learn how to create your campaign with magic switch:

8. Always include your brand identity in feed posts and stories

Consistency is key when growing a brand. You want your followers to know your posts are coming from your company before they even see your username. Sticking to your brand colors and fonts, using the right logo, and maintaining the company’s voice and tone on every platform helps you increase brand recognition and put your best foot forward as you virtually represent your organization and mission.

Have your design team create simple branded feed post templates and branded story templates(opens in a new tab or window) to start your social team on the right foot.

9. Develop partnerships with other creators and brands in your space

Find companies in your space who share your mission and values, and see if you can use each others’ platforms to grow both your businesses.

You may not be able to strike up a mutually beneficial partnership with your direct competitors, but look for partners by finding out what else your customers use along with your product. If your company sells candles, reach out to bubble bath companies. If you run a moving company, reach out to interior design companies. You can do social media takeovers, co-branded social posts, mutual shout-outs, and include them in industry round-ups.

10. Post high quality content

Remember your values and your mission and center them in each social media post. Ensure every post is worth your audience’s time, whether it’s a text post, a photo, a TikTok, or a longform webinar.

Highlight your community, your employees, your customers, and educate your audience about your industry. Show them you know what you’re talking about and you’re a brand worth considering.

Building your brand awareness with Canva

By creating useful, visually exciting content that displays your brand in the best light, your social media community can become a key driver in growing your business.

Learn more about branding your business with our Build Your Brand video course(opens in a new tab or window).

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