A unit's brand is the combined components of its character that make the unit identifiable. DoDD 5535.09 defines branding as "a program or process of creating awareness, public goodwill, and a positive image for the DoD and its Components through the marketing and promotion of its marks."
People recognize a brand from its look, tone and feel. Your brand is your image. So your brand is about more than what you are saying. It is about the continuous discussion between what you produce and share and the response from your follower base. Although most people immediately think of selling a product when they hear "brand," it's not just an industry term. You must also understand the differences between branding in the government versus branding in the private sector. Branding in the government boils down to trust. The government must establish a positive reputation for being trustworthy and guided by set values.
Defining your brand means understanding:
- What your organization stands for, or its unique value proposition (UVP) statement. Your UVP is not simply the mission but the reputational qualities that set you apart.
- Who your followers are.
- How to best educate your internal command to be brand ambassadors who consistently and positively promote your brand.
- The personality or tone your brand conveys.
- The benefits you offer.
- What other qualities set your platform apart from others.
- The goals you set for your platform.
- Your analytics and how they should inform your content going forward.
Use the resources in each step to begin understanding and building your brand for your organization.
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the most easily recognized and trusted
brands worldwide. Understand the DoD brand
and shape your own to distinguish your organization from all others and make it relatable to your audience.
Additionally, the DoD has policies and procedures that govern all DoD entities' branding, trademarks and logos. Each unit should develop specific guidance on which emblems and logos to edit and avoid making the mistake of editing an official seal under the Institute of Heraldry. You can reference DoDD 5535.09 and DoDI 5400.17 for more information on branding, trademarks and logos.
Your brand is nothing without your audience
. Conduct social media monitoring and listening
to understand what your audience says about your brand. Understand your audience's demographics and interests and use the data from your social media channels to evaluate
how audiences react to your brand and the content you share. This information will help you tailor your brand messaging
to the correct audience, increasing the likelihood your brand resonates with them.
Breaking down your social media audience into different groups is also critical. One group is those who passionately engage the brand as followers. Another group consists of people who form an opinion later based on experts, journalists, bloggers and others who respond to the agency’s official communications. This information is foundational for the communication strategy, audience, stakeholders and public analysis.
Identify your brand's personality, values and other attributes. Use what you have learned about your audience to create an authentic
and consistent brand identity, and choose the right tone and voice
to deliver your brand messaging in a unique and impactful way.
Your brand should be concise but dynamic, making it relevant and relatable to your audience. Your brand needs to be consistent once you have decided on a direction. Indecisiveness can be confusing to the audience.
It is also important to understand brands with an established online presence; if you become responsible for a brand like this, you must maintain brand consistency during turnover. Unfortunately, with the rotational nature of many military units, sometimes branding changes based on who manages the platform. This is why it is so important to continually document updates to your brand and keep your social media strategy current.
Being knowledgeable and comfortable with using your brand will help you create high-performing content and build a strong community foundation and follower base.
Ensure you have a UVP
statement that identifies the purpose of your social media accounts and what sets them apart from other brands. Use other resources like brand documentation style guides
to ensure consistency and compliance.
Start with a social media strategy
when integrating your brand into your channels. Understand the platforms
most relevant to your audience and share engaging content. Regularly monitor your social media analytics to measure the performance of your brand and content.
Periodically, audit your brand to identify where your branding resides. This means looking at the documentation, web presence and physical markings of your brand to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses and overall effectiveness with your audience. Reviewing your visual branding guide
to ensure your brand has a unique look and voice is an excellent place to start. You can also input your branding audit procedures in your social media strategy
Examine the resources below to brush up on your social media knowledge and better understand how branding is used in the DoD environment.