Earlier this month, Tumblr, the Yahoo! owned blogging and social media platform, launched a new feature that allows users and brands to easily customise how their blog looks when viewed in the Tumblr app and in mobile browsers. This means that fonts, images, colours, shapes and sizes can all be tweaked to display in any way that the user or brand desires. So why write an article about a colour picker and an image selector?
Tumblr isn’t the only platform to now encourage this customisation. Twitter recently launched its new more image-focussed profile to users and the website-builder Squarespace aired a Super Bowl advert that encourages users to express themselves by building clean but highly customisable websites. The advert’s tagline? “We can’t change what the web has become, but we can change what it will be”. Across the web, things are becoming more personalised.
So why should advertisers invest time in making sure their online identities look and feel right? Here are 3 good reasons:
1: The modern generations judge brands on their online presence
For the youth of today, a poorly run and maintained social media presence lumbers a brand with a burden. A clunky, mismatched, and disjointed Tumblr blog or Twitter page triggers a huge alarm bell for online-savvy consumers of the future. It says that a brand isn’t keeping relevant or isn’t on the same wavelength as its audience. Forced uniformity of Twitter pages over the past few years, for example, has resulted in a lack of individuality, but now customisation has allowed for freedom of expression and all the tools to create a seamless, native and integrated approach. Using these tools will tick all the right boxes in the minds of those that matter, so making the most of them shouldn’t be a hard choice for advertisers to make.
Urban Outfitters and Gap don’t seem to have cottoned on to the new features yet – and it shows.
2: Mobile is no longer an afterthought
One thing in common with each of Tumblr, Twitter and Squarespace’s recent tweaks is that they have a big skew towards improving user experiences on mobile devices. The number of Tumblr posts made on mobile has increased 200% year on year, and this is a trend mirrored across many websites. Mobile sites and in-app pages therefore need to be consistent with their sister desktop sites in order to create consistency and continuity, as well as maintaining full functionality.
3: The internet is a minefield of information and misinformation
Looking in the Yellow Pages and dialling a phone number used to be the easiest and quickest way to find out information about a brand. Now, we all visit a website or a social media page as a first port of call to see a brand’s offerings or to get a better idea of what they stand for. Users need to be able to land on a Twitter page and immediately be convinced that it’s an extension of the brand’s core communications. Embracing customisation tools allows this to become a reality.
Coca Cola and McDonald’s have fully embraced Twitter’s recent redesign.
To sum up, Tumblr has realised that the days of owning your corner of the internet and making it feel like your home have arrived. Brands need to do what they do best – brand these corners and turn them into extensions of their existing online presence. MySpace levels of customisation aren’t necessary – it’s not about attention grabbing, but making sure that consistency and an understanding of the platform is achieved.
Take Gap as an example: they’re currently running an online and print partnership with Vice and dominating outdoor media space in London’s edgy Shoreditch in order to improve their image with younger generations and trendsetters. As seen above, how will an off-brand and poorly maintained Tumblr – known for its userbase consisting of younger trendsetters – go down with this particular target audience?