Compared to where we were even 20 years ago, brand consistency is an incredible challenge, as businesses have so many marketing channels to keep track of. From print media and television advertising to social media and company websites, businesses are often promoting themselves across multiple numerous platforms simultaneously, so maintaining a consistent voice across all of them is far from easy. However, a failure to stay consistent isn’t just a source of momentary awkwardness, but an invitation for long-term damage to your brand’s value. As such, no matter what size your business is, you need to invest in tools and strategies that will keep its brand image consistent.
Understanding Brand Consistency
Brand consistency is best understood as a pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company. This covers everything from the language and tone used in online and offline marketing, the scripts used customer-facing employees, and the logo designs and colors used in promotional materials. All of this adds up to a single “voice” that represents a company and how they are viewed by others. Many large companies (and even quite a few small to midsized companies) work to ensure their brand messaging remains consistency by creating internal guidelines and procedures. This can include style and usage guides, along with documents breaking down one’s brand personality.
Granted, not every company is big enough to warrant a style guide as extensive as those used by Walmart or Amazon, but even a small business can benefit from a level of consistency when it comes to marketing and brand messaging. At the very least, it is worth your while to establish a foundation and basic guidelines to ensure that your marketing aligns with your business goals. Also, while brand consistency is often a customer-centric business goal, it is also important to establish amongst your employees. You cannot expect your team to be consistent in their brand messaging if they don’t understand the message you are trying to convey.
Why Brand Consistency Matters
Though some might see a brand’s image as being fairly resilient, the truth is that if you do not protect this image, it can change dramatically in ways that are not beneficial to your company. A “brand” only really exists in the minds of your customers, so if they start seeing you in a certain way, that image becomes your brand. This is one of the main reasons why brand consistency is so important: failure to keep brand elements consistent across your company’s channels dilutes your brand image. In the short term, this means customer confusion and frustration, and in the long term it can result in an overall loss of brand value.
Furthermore, one of the most important things a business needs in order to be successful is a positive relationship with their customer base, and this is heavily dependent on the consistency of their brand image. After all, customer loyalty is strongly tied to trust, and in order for customers to trust you, they have to feel like they know you. A big factor in this is making it easy for customers to recognize and remember you, so it pays to use language and imagery that is consistent in order to ensure that recognition. If customers cannot easily identify your business and the hallmarks of its image or voice, then it will fail to be memorable, let alone trustworthy.
How Can A Brand Stay Consistent?
Staying memorable and consistent as a brand is a challenge, not the least of which because you will often have to coordinate the efforts of multiple people, both across in-person experiences and digital channels. Even a small business will have multiple people responsible for their brand’s image, from dedicated marketing professionals to the company’s owner and CEO. The larger the company and the more channels you market yourself through, the harder it is to remain consistent.
Despite this, there are steps to make brand consistency a more attainable goal. Developing a brand strategy document is essential, as it can serve as a singular source for what your brand’s voice and visual style. What goes into this plan will vary from business to business, but at the very least it should outline a brand’s purpose, core values, personality, audience, and overall position within the industry. Additionally, you can include instructions on how employees and freelancers convey the brand’s visual style, including rules on aspects like logos, typography, and colors. When you have completed this document, you should make it easily accessible for anyone responsible for representing your brand, whether that is through file-sharing services like Dropbox or Google Driver or a digital asset management (DAM) system.
The Power of Brand Consistency
Your brand’s image helps to determine your relationships with customers, employees, partners, and investors, so it is important to make sure that it is both appealing and consistent across all channels and platforms. Building and maintaining a consistent brand can be a challenge, but by putting the right people, processes, and tools in place, organizations simplify the process and mitigate potential misuse of brand communications. Of course, a brand’s image changes and evolves over time, so there will come a point where documents need to be updated and employees need to be reeducated. Still, by taking a measured approach to brand identity, it is possible to keep your brand consistent, vital, and memorable.