Getting to know all about you: Tips for better brand consistency
How do you define the word “branding”?
For many people, a brand is a culmination of features. It can include everything from a logo, to a specific selection of colours, and even a company name. Your brand is everything that makes you, you – it’s the essence of your business, and it can’t be refined down to a single creative asset.
The purpose of your brand is to create an identity for your organisation – an idea that inspires feelings and creates a sense of trust in your company’s products and the things you create. It’s how you breathe life into your business and give your customers something to connect with. With brand consistency, your firm becomes a friend to your customers, something they can understand, support, and even advocate for.
On the other hand, if your identity is constantly changing your audience can never truly connect with you. If people don’t know “who” you are, there’s no foundation to build a relationship on.
Ultimately, without brand consistency, customer loyalty, affinity and trust can’t exist.
So, how do you start to develop a consistent brand?
Refining your reputation: What is brand consistency?
Let’s start by answering a simple question: “What is brand consistency?”
Essentially, brand consistency is all about keeping the core of your identity intact, no matter what happens in your business. As you embrace new marketing strategies, launch new products, and even adhere to current marketing trends, the heart of your company remains the same.
Brand consistency is crucial, because it manipulates customer perception, and allows you to create emotional connections with your audience. The potential clients who understand your company, where it came from, and how it’s changed over time, will be more likely to buy your products.
If you’re looking for a brand consistency checklist, there are several things you’ll need to define to create a consistent brand:
- Brand perception: How do you want people to see your company? The first step in any plan for consistency is deciding how you plan to differentiate your organisation from the other competitors in your field. Make sure you and your team know your USPs inside and out.
- Brand voice: To manipulate that perception, and give depth to your personality, you’ll need a specific voice. Your voice is the tone and language you use on any brand channel, from your social media profiles to your blog posts. Ideally, your voice will reflect the words and phrases your customers use every day.
- Brand colours: The shades you use on your printed materials, website and even in your logo can have a huge impact on the way people think and feel about your company. Just imagine Coca-Cola without the patented red can. Your colours need to remain exactly the same on every channel to ensure consistency.
- Brand logo: Your logo is one of the most important assets you have for taking advantage of the importance of brand consistency. As the graphic people will associate with your business, your logo needs to look the same on every channel. That means you need strict guidelines for whenever it’s printed, posted online, or used as part of a marketing campaign.
- Brand fonts: Just as your logos can become a critical part of your identity, the typography you choose is critical too. Make sure that you stick to the same fonts whether you’re printing a direct mail marketing campaign or posting blogs on your website.
- Brand values, mission, and purpose: Finally, make sure that the heart of your company remains the same no matter what else changes in your organisation. Remember, 87% of customers say that they buy from companies that share their values. If your mission, purpose, or even your brand promise constantly changes, no-one will know what you truly stand for.
The importance of brand consistency: Benefits of a consistent brand
With so many different things to keep track of in the hunt for brand consistency, you might be wondering why you should bother.Ultimately, the importance of brand consistency can’t be understated. Think of it this way – your brand is your identity. If you think of your company as a person that your customers meet when they buy a product or invest in a service, you begin to realise how important it is for that person to remain the same over time. After all, how easy do you think it would be to maintain a relationship with your best friend if they changed their look, their attitude, and their values every other day?
Customers don’t want to get whiplash trying to keep up with the transformations of your company. They’re happy to see you evolve, but they expect a certain level of consistency so that they always know who you are, what you offer and what you can do for them.
Here are just some of the biggest advantages of brand consistency:
1. Brand consistency refines brand recognition
How do you expect people to recognise your brand if its defining features are always in flux? Brand consistency ensures that your customers can begin to come to terms with the nature of your company, what its purpose is, and what it can deliver. It gives your audience a basis on which they can start to build their beliefs about your organisation.
For instance, if your brand colours are blue and green, your clients might think of you as a trustworthy, and environmentally-friendly business. You can then build on that perception with a caring tone, and a purpose that’s connected to making the world a better place.
2. Brand consistency makes you more dependable
Imagine you’re facing a personal dilemma. Maybe you’ve just broken up with your other half, and you need someone to help you get through this tough time. Would you turn to the flaky friend who never follows through on their promises or the friend that you know will always be there with a tub of Ben and Jerrys when you need them?
Consistency creates a reputation for your company that shows customers they can rely on you. When you constantly show the same image, use the same voice, and support the same values, it tells your audience that when it comes to your business, what you see is what you get. In a world of cynical consumers – that dependability makes a big difference.
3. Brand consistency creates trust
The importance of brand consistency goes beyond simply repeating the same message or plastering your logo on everything you share. It’s about helping your customers to understand your business on a deeper level. We all know that the buyer journey is more of an “emotional” adventure than a logical one. A crucial step in creating the right connections with your audience is helping them to feel as though they know your company.
People are far more likely to trust something that feels comfortable and familiar, than something brand-new and uncertain. It’s human nature. Give your customers the same consistent experience every time they interact with your business, and you could end up with happier, more loyal fans.
How to maintain brand consistency
For most companies, the issue with brand consistency isn’t establishing a specific brand image. Most companies know that they need to start their business with a strong brand strategy, and a vision for the future. The problem is figuring out how to maintain brand consistency as your company continues to grow and evolve.
A business isn’t a static thing – it’s a dynamic concept that evolves over time. Maintaining brand consistency means figuring out how to give your customers the familiarity you need, without allowing your organisation to become stagnant or outdated. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success.
1. Analyse your brand
Brand consistency helps you to ensure that you don’t leave your company open to a complicated range of interpretations by your customers. That means that the first step is figuring out what people already think about your company. Look at your existing brand assets, like your website, communication materials, and social media presence, and ask yourself:
- Do your assets reflect your core values?
- How would your customers describe what you stand for?
- What are people already saying about your brand?
- How easily can customers recognise you from your marketing content?
2. Know your audience
Brand consistency is great, but it can only deliver fantastic benefits if you’re preaching to the right audience. Before you decide how you’re going to build your personality, make sure that you find out who your current audience is, and what they expect from you.
A user persona will give you a great insight into the kind of person you’re talking to. Make sure you evaluate your ideal customer’s values, the kind of language they use, and the companies they resonate with best, to help you build a strategy for success.
3. Establish your brand guidelines
Once you know the kind of identity you want to establish for your brand, you can begin to put solutions into place that will help you stay consistent. For instance, one of the best assets for any brand consistency strategy is a set of brand guidelines. Your guidelines can highlight:
- Your colours.
- Your fonts.
- Your purpose and values.
- Your USP.
- How your printed materials should look.
- How your online materials should look.
- How to display your logo.
Share these guidelines with your entire organisation to ensure that everyone is on the same page. These guides can help with everything from marketing decisions, to sales and customer experience strategies. For a great example, check out the Walmart corporate brand guidelines. These digital documents outline everything an employee, shareholder or customer needs to know about the Walmart identity.
4. Maintain strong internal communication
Unless you’re a one-man company responsible for doing all your marketing and promotion yourself, you’re going to need an internal communications strategy. Brand consistency is dependent on how well your employees understand your company. As such, leaders need to ensure that staff are familiar with everything from your brand values, to the story behind them, and the channels you’ll use to market your products.
Remember, when anything in your organisation changes, your team should be the first to know. Prepare customer-facing employees to embrace changes with guidelines, documents, and helpful launch manifestos.
5. Allow for steady brand evolution
Just because your brand needs to be consistent, doesn’t mean that it has to stay static forever. As we mentioned above, businesses evolve naturally over time. In fact, brand evolution is crucial to a successful and thriving company. The key is making sure that the right things remain the same.
Use your brand guidelines as a compass to help you make decisions based on what you know about your customers. This should ensure that your brand evolves smoothly and practically throughout the years, taking on new designs, beliefs, and missions that fit with who you are, and where you came from.
Brand consistency examples to learn from
Maintaining brand consistency is difficult.
To create a consistent brand, you need to constantly question your promotional strategies and company image. For example, when you add a new profile photo to your Facebook page, you’ll need to decide whether it adequately conveys the right values. When you add a blog to your editorial schedule, you’ll need to question whether it maintains your authoritative position.
However, if you can make sure all your messaging is cohesive, you can create the brand recognition that leads to the same customer loyalty the following three companies have achieved:
1. The World Wildlife Fund
One of our favourite examples of a company with a solid brand consistency definition is the World Wildlife Fund (or WWF). This organisation is all about transforming the world and making it a more environmentally-friendly habitat for animals of all shapes and sizes. So, how do WWF remind you of their honourable purpose? With brand consistency of course.
The WWF logo has stayed essentially the same since 1961, when it was inspired by a giant panda named Chi-Chi living in a London Zoo. The image bypasses all language barriers so that people from around the world can get behind the charity. Alongside their logo, WWF also maintains the same authoritative yet emotional voice in all their advertisements, designed to drive action from customers. WWF even published a great brand book, to let people know how to use their image, write their copy, and more.
2. Lush Cosmetics
Another contender in our list of brand consistency examples is Lush – an international company known for their handmade cosmetics. Lush believes in delivering natural, effective products, made from organic vegetables and fruits. Their commitment to an organic business shines throughout their brand, with a simple logo, and even an environmentally-focused website.
One particularly great part of Lush’s commitment to brand consistency is their packaging. For the most part, Lush forgoes packaging wherever possible, using recyclable and simple materials where necessary to deliver products with as little impact on the environment as possible. This approach puts the Lush company values out there for customers to support and get behind.
3. Innocent Drinks
Last, but not least, Innocent drinks is a playful company with a personality that’s all about having fun and charming interactions with customers. The Innocent marketing materials and branding decisions are always simple, authentic, and inherently cute. Even the logo with its scrawled angel graphic has a childlike nature to it.
Innocent maintains brand consistency in everything they do, from their heart-warming “big knit” campaign that encourages people to give something back to the elderly community, to their fun and friendly social media profiles. Just check out Innocent’s twitter profile for a great insight into their unique tone of voice. Every post Innocent makes reminds you of what makes the company so special.
Top tips: Tapping into the advantages of brand consistency
By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of why brand consistency is key to any successful business strategy.
These days, if you want your business to be profitable, then you need to start by building a relationship with your target audience. The only way you can realistically develop that connection is by creating a consistent presence for your customers to communicate with. Here are just a few extra tips to help you maintain brand consistency.
1. Plan your content calendar carefully
It’s important to remember that brand consistency goes beyond using the same colours and fonts in all of your marketing materials. While your visual assets certainly count towards creating a consistent brand, your audience will also expect to see a marketing plan that adheres to the identity you want to create. In other words, if you want to be seen as a forward-thinking company and a serious innovator, then you can’t switch between case studies on your website and pictures of cute kittens on Instagram.
Create a content calendar that’s packed full of videos, webinars, podcasts, and blogs that resonate with the image you want to establish. Keep every piece of content you post relevant, and make sure that you maintain the same tone and personality across all channels too. Your audience will expect to hear the same voice whether they’re connecting with you on LinkedIn or tuning into your podcast on iTunes.
2. Choose the right channels
Another thing that people often forget about when it comes to brand consistency is that you need to choose the right platforms for your identity. It’s easy to get distracted when there are so many different marketing trends and channels out there to choose from. If everyone you know seems to be on Facebook, then it makes sense that you’d want to sign up for your own social media strategy too.
However, before you start investing in any specific campaign, make sure that you think about how those platforms will affect your brand identity. Would you expect to see a brand like yours on those platforms? For instance, if you’re a financial or accounting company, it may not make much sense for you to appear on Snapchat and Instagram.
3. Be authentic
Finally, if you want to make maintaining brand consistency as simple as possible, one of the best things you can do is commit to building an authentic brand. Today’s consumers expect their companies to have a purpose, and if you can create a vision for your company that you really believe in, then it will be much easier to make decisions without second-guessing your consistency.
From day one, make sure that you create an authentic, honest, and transparent brand that you and your customers can believe in. As you grow, bring people into your team that share your visions, values, and plans for the future. This process will help to ensure that your brand consistency definition evolves naturally with your company.
Ready to make consistency count?
Your brand is more than just your logo or the right name.
A brand is an identity, something that your customers can create an emotional connection with over time. While your company might lure your initial clients in with discounts and witty slogans, it’s the image you create for yourself that will transform one-time customers into dedicated ambassadors.
Brand consistency is how you can ensure that your identity stays active, recognisable, and well suited to the needs of your customers, regardless of how your company might change throughout the years.
Although it can be difficult at first to question whether every image you post, photo you take, and blog you write resonates with the same personality, over time, brand consistency will become easier to manage. As your company continues to evolve and embrace a life of its own, you’ll find that brand consistency is a natural part of everything you do.
All you need is to start with the right strategy.
Get to know your customers and your brand, and you can create a brand consistency template that grows with you throughout the years. That compass will help you to navigate complicated changes in your company’s future, without losing the lucrative relationships you’ve built with your dedicated customers.
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