Imagine you have a prisma triangle made of cardboard — similar to those name tags you find in weddings to mark the seating positions of guests at the dinner tables — and you can write there one word only. That word is meant to remind you of a very important aspect in your professional or personal (or both) life each and every day. Which word would you pick?
One of my colleagues chose “Consistency”* and that particular reminder was not discarded when the seating plan changed a few months ago at the office. It is still there, religiously placed right in front of her computer!
However, that simple, but so very important, word was not embedded in that small piece of cardboard by chance. “Consistency” is in fact one of the words we keep referring in conversations about building a brand and a community. It is that word we should (try to) cultivate and live by.
Why Brand Consistency Is Important
It is undeniable that building a brand involves a huge amount of effort and energy, and impacts the perception (either positive or negative) that customers have on a company. Nowadays, I dare to say the product you developed is only a tiny part of the equation. In a market saturated with great products, brand awareness and company reputation play major roles when it comes to building a brand successfully. Some experts on the matter would even say that brand consistency is key and one of the most significant factors behind a brand’s success.
Brand consistency englobes not only the design style and color palette, but also the key messages and tone used to address the customer. It is all about giving a unique identity to the brand and ingraining certain brand elements in the customer’s mind. But what are the concrete benefits of consistency and why is it so important when it comes to building a brand?
Brand recognition is certainly the most evident outcome of brand consistency.
By developing a seamless look and feel, along with consistent key messages, across your product and channels, you make it easier for your target audience to recognize your brand.
Have you ever played those time-killer games, where you are provided with a logo or slogan and you need to guess the brand’s name? There you go! Those logos and/or slogans which most people are able to connect to a certain brand are marketed by companies that know a thing or two about this topic. How awesome would it be to build the next Apple or McDonald’s in terms of brand recognition?
But maybe you want to take it to the next level and be like Google which were able to add a new expression into our vocabulary — you don’t search for a product or concept on the web, do you? You simply “Google it”!
Say you found a company selling trips to the moon. The first communication channel you check is their website and think “Cool, amazing visuals and the way they address users is kinda fun and engaging. Let me follow them on Facebook”. On their Facebook page you come across very stiff and boring posts talking about the Sun. Would your brain associate those channels immediately with the same company?
How many times have you contacted the customer support team of a company and received totally opposite replies to the same question? What was your perception of the company after that particular encounter?
Provide different experiences to the customers and they will have mixed feelings towards your brand, tag your company as unprofessional and move away to the competition.
Trust and Loyalty
This comes hand in hand with perception management and all brands would like to be perceived as trustworthy and have loyal customers.
Whenever you think about the most popular brands out there, you would probably have no doubt replying to the question “What does this brand sell?”. Regardless of their marketing strategies and brand positioning, as long as consistency is taken into consideration, you are able to nail the previous question.
Take Nike as an example. Nike’s mission is “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. Nike’s advertising strategy, for instances, focuses indeed on athletes (consistency… check!), nonetheless we all know that the company sells a commodity — sporting shoes, clothes, accessories and equipments.
Think about Coca-Cola as well. When you buy a bottle of Coke, do you wonder what it will taste like this time around?
Bottom line, if a company delivers a seamless experience time and time again, it builds confidence among the customers and eliminates confusion. In the end, the customers will think of the company as trustworthy and will be more comfortable purchasing or using the product repeatedly.
Consistency Across the Board
When “Consistency” sneaks into our minds in regards to building a brand, my pragmatic side starts listing all the marketing related fields that we need to consider:
- User Experience
- SEO/ASO and Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Push Notifications
- Paid Advertising
- Customer Service
And now that we have started this exercise, we can’t forget that those fields trickle down to each and every communication channel and/or company online/offline property:
- Offline store and/or online shop
- Mobile app(s)
- Social media channel(s)
- Transaction and onboarding emails plus newsletters
- Blogs and forums
- Support to the customer via FAQs, ticketing system/email, chat, chatbot…
The challenge(s) to be aware of? You guessed right, the multitude of fields and channels, each one with different owners within the company. Making sure that the design (style and visuals), messaging and tone of voice, communication and information released about the product are aligned across every single area of expertise and all the channels is not an easy task, but an effort that must be taken. (Since those are enough challenges for one day, I will refrain from enumerating the role that non-marketing areas play.)
* Curiosity: in the other side you can read “Do not disturb”. I guess we should not disturb her while she is adding some consistency to her work!