In a previous blog post in the Jive Community, I discussed Best Practices for User Avatars. In this post, we’ll discuss how you can reinforce your company’s brand though the use of avatars in your Jive-based community.
Like many community platforms, Jive ships with a set of default avatars. Most of these are cartoonish or whimsical photos and are fairly generic. They also ship with a default “gray man” avatar as a system default. Herein lies the Community Manager’s opportunity to reinforce the community’s branding by adjusting the set of available avatars.
System Default is your Company / Community Logo
It is extremely easy to upload new avatars through the Admin Console. This means that it is very easy for you to replace the default logo with something that reinforces the brand of your community. This could be your the logo for your company, organization, or website. You might even make this the same as your Twitter or Facebook avatars. Regardless, you definitely want to change the default avatar. Nothing says “don’t take this community seriously” more than a generic avatar.
As for additional avatars you have some choices. Some communities will continue to make some or all of Jive’s default set available to users to use if they want. While this does provide some options for your community members, the presence of a large selection of avatars might de-incentivize them from creating a custom avatar (such as a photo of themselves). Depending on the nature of your community, this could be a good or a bad thing.
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My recommendation is to come up with a small set of alternative avatars for your community and then eliminate all Jive’s default set. These alternate avatars could be different versions of your organization’s logo or maybe product logos for your company. For example, the Apple Community features a large and eclectic set of avatars related to Apple products of recent vintageor distant past, along with some generic avatars (flowers, etc.). It says something to the members of the Apple Community that they can have an avatar of an original Macintosh or a modern iPhone (whichever is their preference).
In Juniper’s internal employee community we have several logo treatments available, as well as some avatars related to some of our key products. We also have some avatars (not shown) that relate to some programs directed at our internal audience. This allows employees to identify with products they help produce and sell, or to demonstrate their adoption of those internal programs. Whenever we add a new avatar, such as for a new product, we make that new avatar the default for a couple weeks. This provides visibility to users of our community since they’ll see the new avatar for anyone who uses the system default.
You could even do something creative with your system avatars. Have a contest for your community members to come up with some new or creative avatars. Or, have them vote for their favorite. There are lots of ways to get your community members involved.
However you decide to manage your Jive community, don’t overlook the value of the avatars to reinforce your brand. Avatars are simple to make and install, and they help demonstrate tone, purpose, or ownership for your community.