Effective Online Branding Is Like a Square Pizza

Effective Online Branding Is Like a Square Pizza image sqaure pizzaIn yesterday’s post, we discussed the potential learning for B2B marketers from ‘weird’ YouTube videos. One thing I forgot to mention was that some of the inspiration for the post came from my fiancée who’s a lot more YouTube-literate than I am. Particularly when it comes to beauty vloggers like Elle Fowler, who featured in one of the videos mentioned on yesterday’s post. And more importantly, she showed me a fascinating video by Elle’s sister, Blair.

Why Aren’t Pizza Boxes Circles?

Which leads us to the idea of round pizza boxes. In the video (at 2:34), Blair discusses her regular disappointment when she opens a pizza box to discover that the pizza isn’t square. Her thinking is this, ‘The box is square, surely what’s inside should match’. A further level of frustration, disappointment comes when she lifts a slice. ‘Why are the slices triangles? Square box, circular pizza, triangular slices, it doesn’t make sense.’ In Blair’s apparent opinion, they should all match. Square box, square pizza, square slice. Or indeed round box, round pizza, round slice; she’s not trying to enforce a particular shape on us.

I’ll just let you take a moment to let that sink in. Watch it again if you need to.

Online Branding and Perspective

Now, I’m not sure what your reaction is; but I think Blair makes a valid point about perspective and online branding. Put aside the fact that pizza has always been made as a circle, cut into triangular slices and sold in square boxes and think about what she’s saying. If you had never seen a pizza before, you’d probably expect to find a square product inside a square box. It would certainly be the most effective use of space. Not withstanding the inclusion of dipping sauces.

If you remove the context of a pizza and just think about how products are packaged, you do have natural expectations. You expect a can or bottle to contain liquids. Cardboard boxes should only store dry products, while plastic bags can be used to house a lot of irregularly shaped objects. These all seem like natural, obvious comments; because they describe things we’re all familiar with. But imagine the thinking that went into the creation of the first ever tin can. That package was built to house a specific product in an effective container.  Your business brand, whether you are a multinational B2C or a small B2B, should be built to house your product effectively.

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What Shape is Your Pizza?

When you create online branding for your business, it needs to become an accurate package for your services. If you run an insurance agency, your logo, branding, website and social presence should reflect your insurance and risk management expertise first and foremost. Cartoon logos, flashy websites and edgy content may make you feel good, but it doesn’t sell your business. If your pizza is round, why would you sell it in a square box?

How Do You Cut Circular Slices?

The same goes for social media content. Most of your new clients will encounter you on social media first. The first version of your brand they meet will be the social version. So it follows that your social content should be a smaller version of your online branding. Taking that same insurance agency, the content, tone and style of tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn discussions should all follow clear brand guidelines.

They should all feel like they have come from the same place. So when a new client encounters your business for the first time, they’re not surprised when they discover that the company that introduced them to a very amusing cat meme actually sells integrated accounting software solutions. When someone bites into a triangular pizza slice for the first time, it’s natural for them to assume that the whole pizza is the same shape.

When you build your business’ online branding, you’re creating something brand new. A business message and a product that nobody has ever seen before. With no preconceptions, it’s understandable that your prospects will expect to find a square pizza inside that shiny new, square, box.

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