Consistency builds trust. Why? Because you teach people that they can depend on you, that you'll be there every time they need you. You become familiar. Familiar becomes safe. And we trust "safe" - especially now. So consistency is the golden rule when it comes to marketing. Wouldn't you think that McDonald's and Ford and M&M's would lay off the advertising for a while? Especially when it's fairly safe to assume we all know what they are and where to find them? Yet they don't. In fact, they wouldn't dream of stopping. Why? Because they understand that consistency is simply THAT important. Here's why.
Why It Matters: Brand Image
With the increasing importance of micro-moments across a fragmented path to purchase, consistency is what helps your audience understand who your brand is and what it stands for. Each piece of your brand that customers encounter builds upon the next, be it on the radio, on their mobile device, or surfing through a magazine...these pieces all come together like a puzzle to create the way they think about your brand. When you're consistent, you make your brand dependable, increasing trust in your brand, products and services by about 30%. Consumers know what you have to offer them, why you're unique and better than your competitors, and where they can find you when they want or need you. To them, that's one less thing they have to worry about.
Why It Matters: Brand Message
There are no guarantees that a particular dollar amount will garner results for a specific campaign. However, results are inextricably tied to your message, so perhaps consistency in messaging is probably best understood by the cost of not being consistent: loss of clarity that leads to loss of action. It's well known that repetition is required to lead to action, but if the message is different in every medium with no clear focus, you can be advertising consistently and still not generate results. The repetition from hearing about your brand is going to be absolutely undermined by confusion due to the lack of consistency with your messaging. Even when your brand image is consistent, if your messaging isn't, it will breed a level of dissatisfaction that will invariably hurt your brand reputation. Consistent messaging matters.
Fortunately, building consistency in your advertising is easy if you use the right strategy. By ensuring you have the right tools in your marketing toolbox, you can find that magical balance between consistency and vibrant and fresh advertising. First and foremost, develop a style guide so there's a definitive reference for marketing teams, then ensure you coordinate and integrate your teams with cohesive, campaign-oriented meetings. Keep your staff in the loop so they know what needs to stay consistent. Most often, this applies to creative elements. We're speaking quite literally about the elements that make up your advertisements: visually, that means using the same colors, typeface, and logos. However, it bears noting that a seamless, omni-channel customer experience means adjusting the format to suit each channel. After all, using the same image in a digital graphic and a poster in-store will have different requirements in terms of layout and resolution.
However, it's important to remember that your calls to action need creative consistency as well. The same steps should be expressed in similar ways in each expression of the ad, no matter what channel customers find it on.
A Note on What Consistency Looks Like in Radio Advertising
Creative consistency is a little different when the way customers consume it is by hearing it. Crafting a memorable listening experience means having strong storytelling as much as it means repeating creative elements like using the same voice actors, taglines and jingles, especially if you're advertising on more than one station. (It helps to dominate one station first.) When you give customers an emotional reason to want to listen to the next "installment" of the campaign, you increase the likelihood of recall and action. This is also an important factor in integration and synchronization because you can tie in storytelling from advertising installments on other mediums. (Consider State Farm's "State of Unrest" TV ad with a radio follow-up that involves the husband and wife in a therapy session.)
Now that you understand how to keep your advertising consistent, you can audit your current strategy and redirect in order to reap the benefits of consistent advertising. Drive your brand message home and watch the results of your calls-to-action improve.