When business leaders start considering branding for their business, there’s a desire to focus on visual design factors: naming, colors, fonts, logo and so on. These are important, but there’s much more to branding than visual assets. Your brand is what you do and say consistently. It doesn’t matter how great your brand strategy is; if you haven’t got brand consistency, you haven’t got a brand or an effective strategy.
If you want to grow your business intentionally – as opposed to accidentally – you need to:
- Define what your brand stands for,
- The value your brand brings, and
- Who will most benefit from it
and then convey that consistently at every touchpoint. It’s not just enough to refresh your website; you need to relay this message over and again until your message sinks in. When your prospects can clearly identify you with distinction, that’s the moment they recognize your brand, trust your brand, feel connected to it and want to engage with your brand.
Is consistency responsible for growing your business? In short: absolutely. But before we explain the benefits of brand consistency and how you can build it for your business, let’s define it so we’re on the same page.
What is Brand Consistency?
When developing a sharp brand strategy, a critical component is brand consistency. Your marketing and communications messaging has got to match with the experience of your customer at every touchpoint. Brand consistency is when your marketing and communications reflect what your brand is all about: the benefits you deliver, the values your brand embodies and the promise your business makes to every customer. Brand consistency is when you’re walking the walk and talking the talk, and everything is aligned.
This also extends to your brand look and feel (your visual identity elements, including brand tone and voice) so every aspect of your brand is in sync with what you put out there. Brand consistency is what you do and what you say about your business, day in and day out, with every touchpoint and for every customer.
Why be consistent?
Let’s take an example: a personal interaction. When you start getting to know a person, you begin to develop opinions, ideas and assumptions about them based on your interactions. If they are dressed in a business suit one day, Bermuda shorts and a shredded t-shirt the next, and then they show up in a Spiderman suit another time, it may be hard to nail down exactly who they are and what they are all about.
The Benefits of Brand Consistency
The truth is people trust brands they recognize. But brand consistency goes beyond recognition; it’s about helping your customers get to know you on a deeper level. When a customer feels like they know your brand and can trust you, they are more likely to connect with your brand and engage with your business.
Consistency Builds Recognition
One of the many reasons you should build a brand is so customers can recognize and remember your business. When people recognize your brand on their social media feeds, at a conference or in their inbox, they are more likely to think of your brand at purchase time.
Note: This can take a while!
On average, a prospect needs to see a brand message many, many times before taking action. And while constantly putting your brand out there might feel repetitive for you, remember that your customer isn’t only thinking about your brand. She has a zillion different things on her mind and your brand is just one voice of many. But know that if you are consistent with your messaging and it’s compelling, over time, your message will sink in.
For this reason, you should brand your business, and your brand should be consistent, not just in look and feel, but in messaging across all marketing channels and most especially in the customer experience. Customers should see your brand values in action, and they should be able to recall those values when they see your logo. When you and your team create “on-brand” experiences that positively resonate with your customers, you are building recognition, differentiation and loyalty over your competition. For more on this, see the section below on customer experience.
Consistency Builds Trust
Brand consistency also builds a dependable experience and people crave dependability. As the past year and a half can attest, uncertainty is unsettling. There’s great comfort in knowing you can get exactly what you expect from a known brand. A big reason we frequent Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s is that we know the experience we’re going to have, and there’s comfort in that consistency, even if we aren’t getting the world’s best donuts or burger.
Consistency makes customers have more positive feelings toward your brand. Customers should know what to expect and what the outcome will be. When it comes to brand consistency, dependability is critical because it builds trust. If your message is clear and consistent and your content matches the customer experience, you will be seen as dependable and your prospects will develop a deep trust in your business. If they feel like your brand is constantly changing, they will be confused and assume that they can’t trust your business. They will start thinking that your business and its values could change at any moment.
Consistency Builds Connection
When your customers know your brand, it is easier for them to identify with your mission and values. That connection will increase the chances of them purchasing one of your products or services, or recommending your business to others. In fact, 64% of consumers say that having shared values is one of the top reasons they trust a brand.
You want your business to trigger certain positive emotions in your customer. Those emotions can then be evoked when the consumer sees your brand’s logo or hears your brand’s name. Consumers that feel connected to you and your mission are more likely to be loyal to your business.
How to Develop a Consistent Brand
How do we build a consistent brand? Two simple steps:
1) it requires you getting your brand and story straight; and
2) you need to put it out there on high repeat.
To do this, you need to get clear about your branding: what your brand stands for, the value you provide, and who you’re targeting (this blog post can help and this one is good as well). Then you’ll want to design all aspects of your brand (the customer experience, your content, your team and customer interactions, your site and also design elements like your colors, font, logo, etc.) to mirror your brand. This way, your customers and prospects start to see you consistently, from every angle. Below are a few additional pointers to develop brand consistency.
Nail Your Core Brand Elements, First
Many people feel they need to focus on visual brand cues, but brand values, your brand promise, and even your brand voice and tone are much more important to the impact your brand will leave on your customers. What do you promise your customers, with every interaction? How does your brand treat people? What do you promise your customers, with every interaction? How does your brand treat people? What do you want people to think of when they imagine your business? Answer those questions before getting caught up on the visual assets. Your outward appearance might change, but your core identity should remain.
Once you have these core elements down, take them to a trusted graphic designer who can bring them to life visually and stylistically, so your appearance matches your brand essence.
Build an extraordinary customer experience
Your brand is nothing without an extraordinary customer experience. For all the branding elements I talk about regularly on this blog and in my business, brand strategy is just hype if the customer experience doesn’t live up. It’s critical to make sure your customer experiences the version of your brand you have always sought to deliver. You need to map out what you envision the customer experience to be, and how you and your team can bring that to reality. Then seek out KPIs and other measurements to ensure these are being met.
Not sure about the experience your customers are getting? Ask them. I can’t stress enough how important it is to check in regularly with your customers and ask them for honest feedback. We all have blind spots. Many leaders are often so driven on certain aspects of our business that we overlook other important aspects to the detriment of our long-term brand health and business growth. This blog post on reaching out to customers for their insights can be a good read.
Develop a Communications Strategy
Once you’ve got your brand developed, you need to get it out there. A consistent communications strategy and schedule can help identify your target audience, the right messaging and where to intercept them, and can help you time your marketing communications, so your brand appears regularly in front of your target customers. This article can help you design your communications strategy and put it into action.
Above all, remember that your brand is what you do and say consistently, so lean into that. Be realistic about what you and your team can deliver from a marketing and communications standpoint. If you need help in bringing a robust, consistent brand to life, reach out to us; we’re here to help and ready to make your business magnetic to success.
Magnetic Brand Strategy, located in Northern Virginia, serves a global market seeking a methodical approach to branding. Learn more about us.