If you look at Facebook, Youtube and Google+, you’ll find out that different profiles almost look the same at first sight. Several design relaunches in the past two years impaired the branding possibilities. Youtube, Facebook and Google+ only offer a banner picture for being in line with the corporate design. Only Twitter still offers individual, big picture backgrounds.
Speaking from a graphic designer’s point of view, I find the decrease of branding possibilities and individual designs in social networks sad of course. However, you have to see social media as something as it is: a network to communicate. It is about content. Of course, hashtags (#) are very useful for that, Twitter used to be the only social network to have hashtags. Now, also Google+ and Facebook feature hashtags.
But branding is not limited to the visual appearance (corporate design) only. Branding also means that you have a certain way to communicate – I’m speaking of corporate language and corporate behaviour here. How do you deal with client feedback (positive and negative!)? How do you address your followers/fans (formal or informal language)? What do you post? What language do you use (dialect, way of saying things)? All that has a lot to do with branding.
So: Branding goes from the visual to the content more and more in social networks. More quality content and active communication with and among the followers/fans is the key. Happy networking!