The importance of brand consistency
These days, new brands seem to be popping up like mushrooms. However, a lot of them also disappear again soon after their launch. It is challenging to stand out and keep standing out in a large sea of brands.
Brands manage to catch a consumer’s attention but consumers do not stick with it. But why? Because they lose interest and move on. And to prevent this from happening, a brand must ensure to be recognized and remembered.
This article is going to examine the one behaviour that nearly all successful brands display - brand consistency.
What is brand consistency?
Let’s start with the meaning of a ‘brand’. A brand is made up of brand elements, such as their logo, slogan, shape or product. Below you can see some examples of brand elements of M&M’s.
The thing is, a brand is actually much more than the sum of its brand elements. One way to describe a brand is as a network of associations in our brains. For example, when someone asks you to list all the beer brands that you know, you can probably mention a few from the top of your head. This phenomena is called brand recall, and these brands have the strongest network of associations inside your brain.
After you have named a few and someone shows you the complete list, you will probably recognize some others that you could not name from the top of your head. This is called brand recognition, which means that you do have some associations with these brands in your brain, but they are not as strong as those of the ones that immediately came to mind.
For brands it is important to create these networks of associations in consumers’ brains. And the key to achieving this is brand consistency. Brand consistency means your target audience being exposed to your brand elements in a consistent way. A consistent brand is easily recognizable across all channels and touchpoints in the customer journey - and ultimately aids recognition.
Why is brand consistency so important?
All these different social media platforms and their (paid) advertisements make it relatively easy to put your brand out there so people will notice it. But, as mentioned before, that’s not enough. When people don’t know you, they won’t trust you - no matter how great your first impression was.
For consumers to go from becoming aware of your brand, to recognizing it, to remembering it, trusting it and then considering buying from it requires effort, repetition and a lot of time. It may take months from a consumer noticing you to a consumer buying from you (I can hear you think “months??”. Yes, months). And during these months, it is very easy to lose your potential customer’s attention. To prevent this from happening, presenting your brand - whether small or large - in a consistent way is key.
How to create brand consistency?
There are several ways to establish and maintain your brand’s consistency.
Define your brand guidelines
First of all, it is important that you define your brand guidelines. What is it that makes your brand, your brand?
This includes determining the obvious elements such as logo, typeface, color palette, fonts and photography, but also less obvious elements such as your vision and mission, core values, tone of voice and way of using social media.
An example of a brand that has defined their brand guidelines really well is Coca Cola. Their bright red and white colors are easily recognizable, especially when combined with their unique typeface. They project Coca Cola as a youthful, fun, happy brand and convey this through their visual elements, slogans and packaging, but also through their famous commercials during the holiday season. I mean, who doesn’t know what the Coca Cola truck looks like?
But of course, this also applies for small businesses. The local butcher may not be known worldwide, but creating trust within your local community is key for being a successful brand, even if this means on a much smaller scale. And this starts with determining what defines your brand.
Applying your guidelines
So, once you have put your brand guidelines on paper, you should apply them in a consistent way. This is an ongoing process throughout all your business communication. Everything that you bring out to the world must be consistent with your brand guidelines.
Creating a Facebook page? Use the same name and logo as on your website, and link the pages. Posting something on social media? Design it in your style, using your logo, colors, fonts and photos. Sending out an email to your customers? Make it recognizable through the design and your tone of voice.
Consistency across different touch-points
Ensure consistent touch-points with your customers. Brand consistency isn't just your appearance. You can build consistency through social media channels, with regular posting and a consistent tone of voice. A monthly newsletter is another way to build consistency.
Work on your customer loyalty. Brand consistency fuels loyalty and vice-versa: one simply cannot be without the other.
So consider making use of a loyalty program. They make it attractive for your customers to return to you, therefore increasing the number of touch-points that you need to achieve brand consistency. In the long term, this will strengthen trust and loyalty, and you will build a strong relationship with your customers.
Whether you are a small business owner, managing a large chain, or anything in between, brand consistency is important for any type of brand.