Customers like consistency in their favorite businesses and products. The successful restaurants are the ones that cook our favorite dish the same way each time. Life’s uncertainties make reliability a huge asset for someone competing for our business.
The customer experience is informed by many little elements, few of which we may actually be fully conscious of. We just know that we respond to it. When these change, even subtly, it can disturb the delicate balance.
And while service and quality are paramount, the marketing department can do their part toward creating and maintaining a consistent brand message that tells the same story, wherever the customer encounters it.
Brand consistency is the delivery of brand messaging in line with your brand’s identity, values, and strategy. Done right, you help solidify brand recognition.
You create your brand through your:
· Core messages
· Customer Experience
Brand consistency is the practice of always delivering messages aligned with the core brand values in the same tone, presenting the brand logo in a similar way, and repeating the same colors throughout your visual brand elements.
Over time, these elements become ingrained in the minds of consumers, and they’re more likely to remember your brand.
The average revenue increase attributed to brand consistency is 23%. And choosing consistent brand colors can increase recognition by up to 80%! Those statistics can mean a huge difference for your business.
A great way to guarantee that is by developing a set of brand guidelines, which can include everything from a description of tone and voice to social media examples to the hex codes of your logo.
Brand guidelines, also called a brand style guide, are essentially an instruction manual and rule book on how to communicate your brand.
They lay out all the visual details, as well as important notes about the company’s voice, tone, and messaging. They come in the form of a physical or digital booklet filled with examples of what to do and what not to do.
Brand guidelines comprehensively cover a company’s brand identity, including its:
Logos: full logos, secondary logos, and icons
Color palette: primary and secondary colors
Typography: font styles, sizes, and spacing
Other imagery: photos, illustrations, and artwork
Voice and tone: how the brand uses language and emotion
When companies take the time to create brand guidelines, it helps to ensure that their brand image stays consistent no matter where it shows up.
This will pay off big time in the long run, as your company will generate the familiarity and reliability that open the doors to brand loyalty.
Coca-Cola has established a level of brand consistency that has made them instantly recognizable while avoiding stagnancy and consumer wear-out.
The balance between consistency and evolution (in some cases over a hundred years) is a delicate one. Naturally, as consumer preferences and interests evolve over time, so must brands.
Equally, the pressure on strategists to reposition and change direction can lead to ill-conceived decisions and drive strategic misconceptions.
Power of Association
Consistency plays an important role in building the memory structures which activate brand recall and associations. The majority of buying decisions we make are not extensively analyzed. We frequently buy on autopilot, guided by associations made over many years.
Often, it is about creating the neural connections that allow decisions to be made efficiently. Disrupt these connections based upon a strategic misunderstanding and risk loss of market share, such was the case with Tropicana which rid themselves of their iconic packaging design and immediately felt the impact as sales plummeted because nobody recognized the new packaging.
Benefits of Brand Consistency
The most obvious benefit of brand consistency is brand recognition. Every business should strive to be immediately recognizable by their target audience. Not only does it help to build a strong association between your core messages and values and the visual elements of your brand, but it also sets your brand apart from the competition—a particularly valuable perk in highly competitive, saturated markets.
Shaping brand perception. When you have brand consistency in your corner, shaping the perception of your brand in the minds of consumers is more easily achieved by introducing key messages alongside your consistent brand elements.
Evoking positive emotions. When you tie brand consistency to positive emotions (through carefully crafted words and imagery), your audience will begin to associate those positive emotions with your brand. When done right, those emotions are eventually evoked with exposure to a stand-alone logo or your brand name, whether or not those positive emotion-evoking messages and images are present. That means mere exposure to your brand can make people feel happy, and happy people are more likely to buy.
Building trust and loyalty. Speaking of trust, brand consistency leads to confidence with consumers that they’ll have a certain experience when they engage with your brand. One often-cited example is Coca-Cola, a beverage brand with worldwide recognition. No one ever wonders what a bottle of Coca-Cola will taste like, because brand consistency ensures that it’s always the same. Remember: brand consistency is as much about the customer experience as it is about the visuals.
Differentiating your brand. Brand consistency is a key factor in differentiation, as well. In a competitive landscape with a variety of near-identical offerings, brand consistency often means the difference between earning a customer’s business or losing them to the competition. Leverage brand consistency to communicate, again and again, what it is that sets your company apart from the rest.
Best Practices for Brand Consistency
Use Caution When Rebranding
While the idea of rebranding your business might seem exciting, always consider the impact on brand consistency. If you haven’t already established distinctive brand assets, rebranding may not be feasible without sacrificing some hard-earned brand recognition.
If It’s Boring, You’re Doing It Right
If you get bored looking at the same visual elements, the same layouts, and the same color schemes for your marketing collateral, you’re on the right track. It’s all the more likely to establish brand recognition in the minds of your target customers.
Use a Brand Style Guide
There are myriad factors that make up a brand, and ensuring consistency across every one is a daunting task. Create a brand style guide to define your brand elements and branding rules to keep everyone on the same page and your materials and messaging on-brand.
Make Approved, On-Brand Materials Easily Accessible
If your brand is like most, you have a variety of professionals hailing from different functions who are creating brand materials in some way or another. Providing easy access to the most up-to-date, approved brand materials—such as logos, templates, images, and even copy—goes a long way in ensuring brand consistency.
Brand consistency is a must for any company that wants to build brand recognition and foster trust among their target audience, and that means that brand consistency is essential for every business. Without it, your target audience won’t recognize your brand, they won’t associate your brand with feel-good messages and positive emotions, and they won’t have confidence that they’ll have a consistent experience if they choose to engage with your brand.