The Importance Of Brand Consistency And How To Achieve It

shutterstock_565207849-1

Whatever the size or type of your business, building a consistent brand can bring huge benefits. Just take a look at some of the biggest companies around; Apple, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Starbucks…they all use the branding of their products to gain massive commercial power. Even if you’re running a small business, you can use the same techniques to give your business identity, set it apart from competitors and effectively communicate your product or services to customers.

Your brand should put across your core business values, unique selling points. This needs to be conveyed accurately and you can do this by reflecting your brand in everything you do. From your website, social media, your office and your marketing tactics; your brand should be consistent enough that customers will instantly recognise it. If you get it right, then they will already be thinking about their next purchase without even needing to “sell it” to them.

How Can a Consistent Brand Benefit your Business?

Brand consistency clearly has a massive impact to the marketing of businesses. But how? What is it about branding that makes such a difference to consumer choices?

Before we take a more thorough look at how you can use branding successfully, here are some of the key reasons why you need to create a consistent brand throughout your business.

  • The right branding helps you differentiate your business and makes you stand out from your competitors
  • It can give your brand a personality that customers can easily relate to and identify with
  • It enables you to deliver your key message and puts across what your business stands for
  • You can reinforce trust in your company, which makes customers more loyal and therefore more likely to return
  • Getting your branding right can add value to your product or service which can lead to an increase in profits
  • A consistent brand projects professionalism, which can give you the edge over competitors
  • It makes you more authentic. When you are clear about your brand’s identity, it shows customers who you are as a company, so customers know exactly what you stand for
  • It gives you better direction internally and helps employees work within the company’s values and market positioning.

It shows customers that you’re reliable

Using consistent branding makes you feel more dependable to customers and they’ll see you as a trusted choice when making their purchase. Once consumers start to get to know your brand they make assumptions; being consistent means that they know they can rely on you in future and they know what level of service they can expect.

If you use marketing that’s contradicting, it may not seem like a big deal to you, but it can make consumers subconsciously question the consistency of the service or product they’ll receive from you and make you seem less favourable to them. For example, if you use a formal tone on social media and online, but your company is fun and light-hearted, you’re giving off mixed signals and customers will be left confused.

It gives a more personal service

Giving a personal service can have a massive impact on your business’ success. That’s why using a consistent “brand voice” across all areas of your business can make such a difference. Customers feel like they know you, can identify with you and the whole experience and interaction feels more personal. It makes new customers more likely to try you and existing customers more likely to recommend you to family and friends.

It encourages loyalty

Customers trust brands that they recognise. If they feel like they know you on a personal level it can make them feel much more comfortable. A lot of the time, making a purchase is an emotional decision rather than a practical one, and engaging the right emotions can gain trust which encourages loyalty. Consumers like predictability, and when shopping they tend to go for brands they’ve used before out of habit and because they know what they’re getting. Brand consistency builds trust. That’s why by making sure the whole customer experience is consistent across your brand, you’ll be encouraging loyalty, making them much more likely to return.

How to Create a Consistent Brand

Brand consistency can massively affect what people think about your company. The more consistent you can be with the message you put across, whether it’s through your words, design or marketing, the more dependable you’ll appear to consumers. In today’s digital age, it’s very easy for content to go from concept to content so quickly that brand consistency doesn’t even get mentioned. Almost any employee can create their version of the brand, and this can often give off mixed signals.

Leaving your brand open to such a wide variety of interpretations and different customisations can be fatal. Your brand should be consistent, which is vital for building trust and loyalty. Constantly changing your personality just doesn’t work. Every interaction you have with customers should put across your brands values in a clear and easy to understand way. But what’s the best way to achieve this? We’ve found some of the best tips to help make sure your brand is consistent across your business.

Create brand guidelines

Using brand style guidelines is a very effective way of ensuring all the brand messaging is consistent. This technique is used across most large companies and can be used in small and medium sized businesses too to make sure the brand is aligned with the visions and goals of the company. The guides not only help the marketing department; they can also help all other employees and departments to make sure they’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve.

Some examples of how a detailed brand guide can work are “Walmart Corporate Brand Guidelines” and the “Mozilla Style Guide”. These guides cover everything from how to use logos, promotional merchandise, fonts, tag-lines and which tone of voice to use. Now, your business might not be the size of these companies, but the ideas can still be implemented. Your brand guidelines should include your brand mission, voice and tone, logo usage, brand colours, fonts, media formatting and photography and graphic styles.

If you are in the process of establishing a brand, they provide a good foundation to ensure that your message aligns with the goals and targets of your business.

Make sure the guidelines get circulated

It might be tempting to only share the guide with your marketing and design teams; after all, they’re at the front end of producing all your promotional material. However, it’s important for everyone in your business to be involved in branding. Your brand guide should not just give information on how the company is presented; it should be used throughout all departments. For example, sales teams need to know how to present your company’s values to clients, those involved in production need to be aware of how to match the packaging to the style of the brand and freelancers need to be able to replicate the tone of the brand consistently.

Update any existing branding

Once your guidelines have been established and put into place, make sure you update any existing branded materials according to the new design. This includes all the obvious marketing resources like websites, blogs, social media profiles and posts, business cards, presentations, brochures and sales videos. It’s important to remember that all elements of your business, including ones that may seem insignificant, all represent your brand. That means all the details need to be consistent with the brand including store decoration, packaging, labels, uniforms and correspondence. It’s not just the logo that matters…it’s the whole customer experience.

Be consistent with your content

Most companies know the importance of content marketing. When creating content, it’s crucial that you keep brand consistency in mind at all times. Once you’ve created your own brand style, you should refer to them at all times when using content marketing as a tool. With so many opportunities to make an impression online, being consistent is more important than ever before. But with so many options to choose from, how will you know which approach is the right one?

When making this decision, it’s important to bear in mind these factors:

  • Make sure you use your logo and design consistently across all areas of your online activity. These tools should be available to all employees and be easy to access. After all, there’s nothing worse than seeing low quality copies of your logo that don’t match the rest of your website.
  • All employees should have access to visual content like logos through a shared folder or company network. They should also be provided with instructions on where they should be used so that it’s consistent across your business.
  • Provide employees with document templates to ensure they’re all using the same branding both online and offline.
  • Aim to manage all prints and promotional materials through the same person or department. This can help to make sure the same style, print and logo is used on everything you produce.

Choose your content carefully

All the content you use across your brand should be consistent with what you’re trying to achieve. All the topics you choose, videos you post and blogs you write should fit your business goals and mission. For example, choose topics that are appropriate for the industry your business serves. Look for recent developments in that industry that will be interesting to your customers, especially if you have a particular expertise and you can offer solutions to their problems.

Keep your tone consistent

When you’re using different platforms, it’s important to keep your tone consistent through all your communications with customers. For example, if you’re brand is chatty and informal on Twitter, you should try and match it on other sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Obviously, you can adjust it to sound more professional where it’s appropriate, but it shouldn’t sound like it’s coming from a different person altogether. Making sure the personality of your brand comes across well, makes you more relatable to customers and will make you more trustworthy to them.

Choose online platforms that work for your brand

When choosing the best platforms for promoting your brand, it’s easy to get swept up in trends and to copy what everyone else is doing. What platforms are other businesses using? Which one seems to be the most popular? Before giving into peer pressure, take a second to evaluate all the options available to you and decide which one best fits the tone of your business and what you’re trying to achieve.

Ask yourself:

  • Would customers expect to see this type of brand on this specific platform?
  • If you saw this brand on this platform, would you trust it? Or does it seem like they’re just trying to get publicity?
  • Who are your target audience? Do they use this platform? Is there an alternative that would be more suitable for your brand?

Take time to evaluate

As the amount of marketing material businesses send out increases, make sure your brand is consistent in becoming more challenging. Trying to get immediate results can mean you accidently lose some of the identity you’ve worked on establishing. Take time to evaluate all your procedures as your business grows. What are these procedures and how effective are they in communicating your brand to your customers? Are your guidelines clear and consistent? What challenges could there be in the future and how can you overcome them? These are all important considerations to make to ensure brand consistency throughout all your business operations.