Editorial identity? When we think of brand identity and the ways to embody it and to decline it, the first reflex is to think visual identity and graphic charter. It is necessary. But this is not enough: brand identity creation works on two legs. The visual identity, certainly, but also the editorial identity.
A brand is a name, but much more than that. It’s an identity. That is, how this brand wants to exist in the minds of consumers. To do this, the brand relies on different elements. And the more coherent, complementary, durable and distinctive these elements are, the stronger the brand identity will be.
Jean Noel Kapferer, author of reference in the field, defines brand identity via 6 dimensions: the physical, the personality, the culture, the relationship, the reflection and the mentalization. More generally, corporate branding can be considered as a continuous construction, combining the brand’s history, past campaigns, positioning and values, as well as all the signals it chooses to emit. The most obvious of these signals are of course those defined by its visual identity. But a second dimension comes into play, with at least as much impact: its editorial identity.
To build or strengthen its identity with its targets, the brand uses two dimensions: visual identity and editorial identity. It is in fact through their graphic and editorial representations that the brand will give life to its name, its missions, its values, its history, etc..
The coherence of both graphic and editorial dimensions is the key factor in creating a strong corporate branding. In semiotic terms, it seems that the plane of expression feeds the plane of content.
Thus, along with the brand’s visual identity, its editorial identity will fulfill three functions:
A function of representation of the brand, therefore the identification of this brand by people exposed to its speech.
A function of information on the brand: its personality, its style, its values.
An adhesion function: the speech is addressed to a target, which will more or less adhere to it or recognize itself.
Monoprix worked on a new positioning designed to “enhance the value of everyday life”. To fulfill its objective of “making every purchase a blessing”, the brand chooses to inject beauty into even the most basic products, its entry-level products. Emblematic of this positioning, it chooses to integrate into each of these products a message with a very identifiable offbeat tone.
While the exercise seemed to leave very little latitude, Innocent manages to make the list of its ingredients a brand identification factor and to nourish the relationship with its consumers, via familiar language rather than the usual conventional measures.
The elaboration of an editorial charter will constitute the basis of the rules of construction of this editorial identity.
It is the reference document for all editorial content production, the bible of anyone who produces content on behalf of the brand. It gives the answers to each of the questions the editor asks himself, gives him an editorial direction and formalized writing conventions. And it helps to avoid many mistakes.
Based on the identification of the content targets to be created – ideally in persona form – the editorial charter will define qualitative and quantitative objectives for its content. And the means to reach them.
The editorial line is the heart of the charter (so much so that sometimes it replaces it and the other dimensions are neglected). It consists in formalizing the choice of the subjects to be treated, the angle from which to do it and the kind to adopt: articles, files, briefs…
It will be a question here of defining a corpus of keywords on which the brand wishes to position itself as well as the semantic cloud associated with this corpus. Meshing rules will also be laid down.
The heading describes the overall architecture of all the contents, and each of the headings and categories in detail.
The editorial charter will review and formalize each of the elements used in its content, to ensure relevance and consistency, regardless of the editor: title, length and style, caption and heading, length and number of words, formatting, fonts and font sizes, text justification, typographical rules, punctuation and spaces, rules for using upper and lower case letters, abbreviations, acronyms, quotations, use of hyperlinks, backlinks, external links, editorial style, tone used and vocabulary register, legends.
Editorial identity will be conveyed by editorial content in various formats, including editorial content. These editorial contents will themselves be diversified: site pages, blog articles, posts, emails, interviews, blurbs, product sheets, etc.. The editorial charter will seek to govern the editorial and editorial structure of these contents in order to ensure consistency. For example, in the case of articles, length, caption, paragraph, title or SEO rules are predefined.
The structure of each type of content will be specified. The editor will thus benefit from instructions for his work which will allow him to concentrate on the messages themselves more than their structuring, their hierarchy or any other question of form.
Beyond the messages themselves, the tone contributes to the personality of the content. So, by ricochet, to that of the editor and to the identity of the brand: for example, a brand whose collaborators are cool, expert, serious, funny. It is therefore a key element for brand identity creation. And also a factor in reader loyalty.
Like tone, style of writing also contributes to the brand’s editorial identity, as long as it is consistent and homogeneous. When are articles written? Who is the transmitter: for instance: the editor, the brand or someone else, Do we use the informal form, the formal form?
To caricature, a game publisher will use the familiar language associated with a friendly, close and attractive, while an accounting firm will have a more serious and classic tone.
Editorial identity is also based on visual choices: illustrations, where they exist, are therefore also part of its construction. The iconography – images, graphics, diagrams, videos, computer graphics – will therefore also respect principles defined in advance. The illustrations also carry a message and an intention: consistency is therefore the rule.