Although a brand is a commercial entity, people tend to transfer anthropomorphic qualities to it – they perceive it and refer to it as if it was another human being. That’s why in marketing we often talk about brand personality, brand identity, brand voice, and etc. And similarly to communication, people find qualities related to consistency – for instance, dependability and trustworthiness, to be among the main qualities that they look for in brands.
Brand consistency is the ability to systematically follow a predetermined appearance, set of actions, communication, and service. It is closely related to brand promise – a guarantee of quality that customers associate not only with the product, but with the experience that they know doing business with a certain company will provide.
What makes maintaining brand consistency difficult is that there is rarely one person behind the brand. Even small and medium businesses are managed by a team of experts. People in the company may be on the same page, but each one of them is an individual person with their own image of the concept. Their point of view reflects on their work and, thus, on the brand and the client’s experience.
This becomes even more complicated in large operations that have hundreds of employees spread across multiple departments, and who communicate with hundreds of clients.
So is brand consistency really that important? And if it is, how do you maintain it?
Why Is Brand Consistency Important?
Many businesses believe that brand consistency ends with following the same style, making your logo and your company – a popular household name. But that’s only what makes you recognizable. And, although this is, indeed, very important, it is only one side of branding.
In business, it’s not enough that people know who you are, they should feel that they can count on you. Customers trust brands that they find reliable, dependable, and credible, and that they are familiar with.
Your insightful marketing, personalized sales solutions, and quick-to-respond customer service, along with a product the public loves, and endless hours of hard work, are how you earn your clients’ trust.
However, if your departments aren’t consistent and don’t appear to demonstrate the same values, your customers will be confused and will feel that something is off. This can hurt your credibility and affect how they judge your brand.
Maintaining brand consistency means your clients can always rely on you. It also:
- Promotes Loyalty. People will know that you provide a top-notch product and can expect a great brand experience with your company which means they will stick around.
- Makes You Recognizable. Being authentic and having a distinguishable brand design and style will make you stand out and be instantly recognizable.
- Builds Trust. Brand consistency gives your customers the feeling they know you and can trust you. If every interaction makes them feel happy and has met or exceeded their expectations, they will be loyal to you and return to do business with you
- Shows You as Reliable. A unity between your brand’s image and its actions means that you are reliable, and this will make customers feel secure in your relationship. They will see you as someone who can be depended on and will trust you with their money again and again.
- Improves Communication. When all departments work together this shows that your company is serious, and improves your relationship with your customers and your ability to communicate with them. It’s easier to talk to someone whom you know is listening to you. However, if you are consistently inconsistent, your customers won’t understand your brand, nor will they stick around long enough for you to get to know them.
People don’t like it when they don’t know what to expect. And if they are to trust you with their money, they need to feel safe while doing it.
How to Create Brand Consistency?
As mentioned, the toughest part of maintaining brand consistency is to make sure that the personal points of view of your teammates don’t interfere with those of the company.
In order to avoid this, you should break down all aspects of the brand on paper, and describe what message you want to send to your customers, and how you intend to do it. This information should be clear and easy to follow, and you should make it available to all members of the company.
1. Provide Brand Guidelines
Brand consistency should be followed through on every touchpoint with the customer. It should become part of your company culture that every employee is familiar with.
The most efficient way to secure this is by providing brand guidelines and assigning a brand manager who oversees that they are being implemented correctly.
Your guidelines should include all aspects of the visual branding of the product, and its message, as well as the proper behavior of employees in various situations.
Having this information in black and white, and readily available will make it easier for both new and veteran team members to sync together and do their jobs using the proper requirements.
Any changes should be announced company-wide and the brand’s book should be updated regularly. This way employees will always have a backup to refer to if they are not sure what to do, as well as clear instructions to comply with when writing marketing copy, designing creatives, communicating with customers, and so on.
2. Build a Consistent Brand Identity
Customers want to associate with products and services that enhance their personality and provide additional context to their personal image. And although this is considered to be relevant mostly in the B2C circles, B2B companies don’t fall behind.
Your brand identity is what makes people relate to your company. It can give them a sense of belonging and community and can be the reason why they choose you over competitors.
As mentioned, people often tend to paint inanimate objects with human qualities. When a brand name comes up in a conversation and a customer says they know you, they mean they know your brand’s identity. This includes your brand’s personality, voice, and style.
Therefore you are someone who they can trust and rely on, and should show consistency in all these, including your actions and public appearance.
3. Strive for Brand Design Consistency
Design consistency is what makes a brand visually recognizable to customers and partners. While many companies associate design only with the logo and name typography, these only scratch the surface.
Brands should also follow design consistency in the graphics, color palette, style, mood, and so on. Your visual persona and the feeling you evoke in your customers is how customers instantly recognize you. And if your style is distinguishable enough, they may guess who you are even before they see your logo.
Even when it is not immediately noticeable, harmonious style and design work on a subconscious level. The human brain seeks patterns and quickly learns to recognize them. If the connections between your brand assets are too loose or random, people will not be drawn to them or may feel like there is something off.
A good example of brand design consistency is Facebook. The company has strict regulations on how its logo should be used, including the color scheme, dependencies, and so on. They provide detailed instructions, downloadable content, and resources that any graphics professional can access and refer to when using their brand.
4. Deliver a Consistent Brand Experience
People today use multiple channels to interact with businesses and to complete transactions. From the customer’s point of view, they should perform like one single entity and deliver a consistent brand experience, because they are part of the same company.
Research shows that 76% of people want communication across departments to be consistent, but more than half (54%) don’t believe it is. If customers have to explain the same thing over and over to any representative of your business that they talk to, or are faced with a different attitude at every touchpoint, your credibility will suffer.
One way to ensure the united image your customers crave is to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Modern CRM software allows you to organize in one place all your customer data in a detailed profile. These include demographics and personal information, interaction and purchasing history, stage of the customer journey, etc.
Also, a cloud-based solution can be instantly accessed from any point of the world by any one of your company representatives. They can continue the conversation with the customer exactly where their colleague left off.
This can dramatically improve your brand experience and your customer service satisfaction. It will also relieve a substantial amount of the stress and frustration customers feel when communicating with companies.
5. Tread Lightly When Rebranding
Everything around us is constantly changing, brands included. While rebranding can be cool and exciting and give your company image a fresh look and feel, it should be done with care and consideration.
We all know the wave of confusion that hits us when a brand or product we enjoy suddenly becomes different. We want to know the reason why, and if we aren’t given one or we don’t agree with its new vibe, we may just stop using this product.
Customers are your most important stakeholders and, as such, you should keep them in the loop. Rebranding should be done with a marketing campaign to announce it and your goal should be to make the news as exciting to the clients as it is to you. Although customers are often wary about change, if they see the logic behind it, they will quickly adapt or agree to it.
Moreover, any transformation should seem a natural part of the brand’s progression.
For example, if your brand is typically associated with bright colors and a cheerful identity, suddenly going dark and moody may not be the right move.
6. Stay True to Your Values
Brand loyalty is not only about the product and its message, it is, above all, about the values you and your customers share.
People nowadays care about brand ethics and conscious business practices, and they want the companies they support to be on the same page as they are. Furthermore, 61% say they have left a business because it doesn’t share the same values as they do.
If your brand is not consistent and its public position on important matters matter, this may be confusing to your customers and may decrease their trust in you. People take their values very seriously and if you don’t follow through on yours, you will lose both your credibility and their loyalty.
For example, when in 2006 Anita Roddick sold the Body Shop to L’Oréal, this had all her loyal customers baffled and was considered a very off-brand move. The Body Shop was known as the first eco brand in cosmetics and suddenly became part of a company infamous for all kinds of unethical and un-environmentally friendly practices. As a result, the brand lost many of its loyal followers and its overall credibility.
Brand consistency will make you a more reliable partner and will improve your customers’ trust in you.
Predictability may often be considered a boring quality in a person, but in business, when money is at play, it can be a most sought-after trait.
When customers love your products and know that you always deliver a top-notch experience, they will remain loyal. What’s more, they will readily recommend you to their friends, because they can be certain that you will not disappoint.
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