Originally published at AW360 by Katie Lundin.
- Defining brand consistency
- How consistent branding builds customer relationships
- Giving your brand messaging time to work
You’ve probably heard by now that consistent branding is important. Everyone says so–it’s one of those common business truisms that, for many, goes in one ear and out the other.
There are multiple reasons why consistent branding is so powerful–and inconsistent branding is so harmful. So, let’s take a deeper look at the whys and hows of branding consistency.
What is brand consistency?
Brand consistency occurs when a business presents the same visual face, values, personality, and brand messaging across every customer touchpoint.
This can be challenging to accomplish if you don’t fully understand your own brand. And, that’s why getting to know–really know–your brand is the first step in any brand consistency effort.
Why is brand consistency so important?
The goal of any brand is to provide a recognizable, positive brand identity people will remember.
Without a consistent brand presentation, you cannot achieve that goal.
Consistent branding improves brand recognition.
A phenomenon known as context-dependent memory states that people remember information best when they are in the original context in which they encountered that information. However, brand messages usually occur in a wide variety of places (online ads, business cards, outdoor signage, product packaging, emails, etc.).
This means that your brand messages often lack the necessary context that would make it easiest for people to remember them.
So, consistent presentation becomes necessary to bridge the gap and reinforce your brand recognition.
This is especially true for new and younger businesses. As we emphasized in our guide on how to start a business,
A strong brand identity is the most effective way your new business can gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Consistent branding communicates to the world that you know who you are.
Brands that can’t settle on a consistent presentation or voice project their confusion to the world.
Consistent branding shows that you stand behind, and live, the identity that you’ve shared with the world.
People trust businesses that practice what they preach.
If your brand consistently delivers on promises, presents itself in the same way, and acts in accordance with the identity it presents, it proves the authenticity of your brand.
People value and trust authentic interactions.
Consistent branding builds customer relationships.
Like any relationship in life, it takes time to build strong relationships with your customers.
Consistent branding allows your business to be perceived as the same business they met the last time they heard from you. After enough consistent exposures to a brand, customers begin to feel as though they know you – and the relationship begins to grow.
As we explained previously,
The more customers are exposed to something–a product, a service, or your brand–the more inclined they are to like it.
This is a psychological phenomenon known as “mere exposure.”
So, the science indicates that the more frequently customers: 1) interact with your brand, and 2) recognize it due to consistent presentation, the stronger your brand/customer relationship will grow.
How do you build brand consistency?
It’s impossible to faithfully repeat something if you don’t know what you did in the first place.
And, that’s the challenge so many businesses encounter when they try to present a consistent brand.
If you haven’t given any deep thought to your brand–your values, your inherent and projected brand personality, your unique selling proposition, and how those elements will manifest visually–then you simply cannot expect to achieve a consistent brand presentation.
If you don’t really know your brand, yet, how could anyone else?
So, start by self-reflecting. Determine the values that drive your business and the traits that define it and make it unique.
Then work with talented designers to develop a visual design that embodies that brand. This will be the foundation for all of the visual elements that customers and potential customers will associate with your brand.
If you already have a logo and visual branding elements, conduct an inventory. Ask yourself if these elements properly represent your brand. If not, it may be time for a logo refresh or a complete visual rebranding.
If you’re not sure if a rebrand is appropriate for your business, check out this article on how to rebrand your business.
Create a style guide.
A style guide is the one source of truth for your visual brand. This document outlines a set of rules to follow any time a member of your organization wants to publish, present or promote content for your brand.
As we previously explained,
If your brand isn’t captured in a style guide, it can quickly drift into an inconsistent experience for your customers and employees.
This includes visual information such as fonts, brand colors, logo, signage specifications, typography style, and any other commonly used branded graphic elements. It should also cover less tangible items like ideal voice and tone, your branding mission and company philosophy.
So, once you’ve clearly defined your brand and developed visuals to support it, make them official in a style guide you can share with every member of your team.
Give brand messaging time to work.
As we mentioned earlier, relationships of any kind take time to build.
And, it’s estimated that it takes between 5 and 11 interactions (depending on the source) before a customer is ready to make a purchase.
So, when executing any branding strategy, plan to give it enough time to really sink into the public consciousness.
Your brand position may change over time as the business landscape evolves. But, it should still have a life cycle of years–not weeks or months.
This is just one area where authentic branding has a distinct advantage over contrived branding. An authentic brand is far more likely to have longer staying power since it is grounded in the reality of the business from the foundation up–making it easier to implement and most likely to still be relevant years from now.
If you don’t immediately get the reaction to your brand that you had hoped, don’t give up too quickly and try something new. Every brand needs time and repeated exposure to truly make a lasting impact.
Deliver a consistent multi-channel experience.
Businesses today share their marketing and branding messages in many, many places.
From social media to your website, email marketing to roadside billboards, and mobile apps to your customer support team, people are interacting with your brand all over the place.
And, they should be. It’s in your best interest to be in all of the places that your customers frequent. This makes you easy to find and keeps your business top-of-mind.
But, being in all the right places isn’t enough. It’s crucial to present a consistent brand across all of these locations if you want people to recognize your brand and remember you.
This is especially important when you lead customers on a journey from one point to another. For example, if you send an email with a discount link, the landing page the customers land on should share the same brand messaging and appearance as the original email.
Customers should experience your brand in the same way whether they’re on social media, a mobile app, your website or in your store.
Brand from the inside out.
Your employees are the guardians of your brand.
Employees need to be as well-educated and passionate about your brand as you are. Without their understanding and buy-in, a consistent branding effort is doomed to fail. This is one of the reasons why the best brands happen from the inside out.
Authentic brand values that evolve naturally from your company culture will be easiest for your employees to embrace and enact.
But don’t assume that because your brand values are genuine, that your employees will know how to–or that they will–articulate them. Provide brand education for all employees so that they understand their role in presenting a consistent brand identity for your company.
Consistent = Reliable = Valued
In our personal lives, we value those who are always there for us when we need them. It’s reassuring to know that we can rely on someone.
The same is true for a consistent brand. When people find a brand that not only meets their needs but does so reliably in a familiar way–that breeds loyalty.
Embrace these consistent branding tactics for your business and, in time, you’ll leave your competition in the dust.