Branding is a key component of any marketing strategy. You’ve probably heard this word used in a number of different ways. Huge corporations with huge marketing budgets effectively use branding so consumers instantly recognize them. Think McDonald's, iconic golden arches, Google's colorful type, and Target’s red and white logo. These are just a few popular brands that are known worldwide thanks to their consistent look and message. Each and every time you see or hear their messages, they are basically the same. The colors, fonts, logos, and styles are consistent, the music and voice-over are consistent and the vibe of the ad is, you guessed it, consistent. You recognize their message because they keep it consistent and clear. But you don’t have to have a marketing budget the size of McDonald's to create brand consistency.
The reason we are mentioning this is to give you some perspective on branding. Consumers are constantly bombarded with thousands and thousands of messages through print, digital, radio, and television, the list is growing day by day. This is one of the main reasons why consistency is the key to successful branding, The goal is for your customers and potential customers to recognize your brand, wherever you are. Brand consistency across multiple channels helps you stand out in the crowd and more importantly makes customers comfortable engaging with you. It’s true that people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. These companies know this brand awareness doesn’t happen overnight.
Consistency is the foundation of brand identity. Brand consistency refers to the practice of communicating all messages so they align with your company’s core values. As mentioned above it requires messaging that uses the same tone of voice, the same colors, and fonts, always using your logo and other consistent elements.
Most companies create brand guidelines that everyone throughout the organization uses to maintain this common and consistent messaging. The end result or goal is for people will remember and instantly recognize you.
Does this really matter? Absolutely. Take a look at why consistency is the key to successful branding.
As mentioned earlier consumers are constantly seeing, hearing, and experiencing advertising. When you constantly use consistent branding through all media channels, customers will recognize and remember you and want to do business with you. They begin to trust you and have emotional ties to what you provide. Your brand will begin to stand out in a crowd. For example, McDonald's golden arches are recognized worldwide and so is their menu. When you order a Big Mac, whether you are in Cleveland or California, you know and trust it will taste the same. This is part of brand consistency.
People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Companies that use their brands consistently are immediately and easily recognized. This creates an emotional connection with a customer and eventually will build your brand and grow your business over time. For example, when you visit a Target, you trust this retailer for the best prices and selection on household items. Their motto is, “Expect More. Pay Less,” a message they have used consistently since 1994.
When customers recognize and know your brand, they are more likely to purchase your products or services. In addition, they'll recommend you to their family, friends, and colleagues. Having shared values is a top reason consumers trust a consistent brand. Consistency will also attract new customers and loyal repeat customers. For example, online giant Amazon offers Prime members with two-day free shipping. They have remained consistent with this feature since 2005 and as you may know, grown to become one of the largest companies in the world.
Consistency is imperative to creating brand loyalty and trust. If you keep changing your logo, your colors, your theme, and your overall look, customers will be confused and may feel they can’t trust your business. Consistency will create trust and positive emotional experiences. For example, back in the 1980s longtime soda beverage giant, Coca-Cola changed its name to New Coke. Loyal customers were so confused they not only criticized the company but quit buying the product. Less than three months later, Coke brought back the original look and taste to regain the customer's trust and loyalty.
Consistent branding and familiar messaging will position your company as an expert in your industry. Customers will not just look to you for products and services, but also for other information, resources, and helpful advice. For example, Constant Contact is a well-known email management service. They offer a blog that includes helpful free advice on marketing-related topics. When a new customer is in the market for an EMS, they are apt to use Constant Contact for their consistent branding and advice.
Creating a clear and concise mission statement that everyone in the organization agrees to adhere to, will help you begin building brand consistency. For example, Starbucks' mission statement is, “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” As they continue to grow as a leading coffee chain throughout the world, this mission statement is the foundation of its brand.
Brand guidelines should be thoughtfully designed, created, and shared as a must-follow document. Brand guidelines will include everything from your logo usage, a color palette, font families, logo designs, photos, graphics, artwork, and other creative assets that are to be followed by everyone in the organization. This will assist in brand consistency and prevent mistakes that could confuse customers.
It is helpful to review the brand guidelines and update them as your company changes, evolves, and grows
Your logo is a strong identifier of who you are and will impact your brand consistency. Include your logo on all print and digital assets.
Create regular content, so consumers see and hear from you on a regular basis. Create brand consistency across multiple channels including social media, your website, email marketing, and blog posts to stay front and center in their minds.
When creating a marketing schedule and marketing content, keep your mission statement and brand guidelines in mind. Create content that is helpful, relevant, and sharable. You can create new content or re-purpose older information.