There is much more to a business than the services it offers or the products it sells. Good branding gives a business the gift of a distinct voice and personality - it humanizes the brand in the eyes of a consumer - which makes it incredibly important that a brand’s personality be consistent.
Good branding creates an expectation in your followers and customers, and you want to consistently meet their expectations. By maintaining brand consistency, you can ensure that your customers walk (or scroll) away satisfied after every interaction with your company. Brand consistency also helps with brand recognition. Eventually, you want people to see your content and automatically associate it with your brand the same way that people see golden arches and think “McDonald's”.
People tend to like brands that they can rely on over long periods of time and adhere to the same culture, values and imagery for the long haul makes it easy for people to make your brand their brand. A great example of this is the Dove Real Beauty campaign. “Real Beauty” and being a relatable, uplifting voice for the average consumer has become a core tenant of their branding just as much as their little dove logo has.
So how do you achieve brand consistency?
Curate a Mission Statement
A mission statement describes the “why” behind your company and/or brand and gives you a set of values and overarching goal to work towards across campaigns, posts and products that allows you to align your messaging with your core values. This is how you show people what your company is all about, and who your company is.
Have and Adhere to a Brand Style Guide
Developing and adhering to a brand book is incredibly important. Your brand book contains all of the visual and stylistic cues that your customers and followers will associate with the company. It also contains things like a brand voice and tone, laying out guidelines around how the company will communicate with people. From your brand colours, logos, submarks, and fonts, right on down to the general “vibe” of your communications, your brand book should be comprehensive and easily understandable.
A couple of great examples to clarify things: When people interact with Wendy’s on Twitter they come with the expectation that they will have a playful, sassy experience with the “Wendy’s Roast Me” phenomenon that has become a part of their brand identity. When people interact with Sephora online, they expect black, white and red to be visually present and they expect a fun, caring and educational tone when it comes to their online communications.
All companies who have a successful online presence have a brand book that they stick to. This may not seem like it applies to you as a smaller business, but that makes it even more important. You should seize every chance you get to build brand recognition. This is an opportunity!
Maybe your target demographics have shifted, maybe your branding is out of date, or maybe you just bought out an existing business and want to update the branding to suit your vision for the business. There are a myriad of reasons to rebrand, and it can be a powerful tool for your business if you do it correctly.
You don’t have to change your company values or mission statement when you rebrand (though it is always good practice to ensure that your company values and mission are still where you want them to be, but fresh visuals might be just what you need to inject some new life and bring your brand up to date. If the time is right to rebrand - because it’s important that if a rebranding is done, it’s for the right reasons - make sure to stay consistent with the new theme. The most important thing is consistency.
Why Brand Consistency Matters
Consumers, whether they know it or not, look for reliability. Consistency helps consumers trust your brand, and that trust leads to more positive feelings toward your brand. Consumers should know what to expect and what the outcome will be. If they feel like your brand is constantly changing, that can damage or impede trust building and people will assume that they can't trust your business. This means that they will be less willing to purchase from you themselves and that they will not refer your business to others.
of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product or service from a brand they’re familiar with - Global banking and finance review
By maintaining a consistent brand identity, you are encouraging customers to keep coming back. It makes it possible for you to:
Position Yourself in the Eyes of the Consumer
Branding, at its essence, is deciding how you want to present your business and its values to the public. Consistent branding keeps that impression the same across different platforms and experiences - people should get the same feelings when they see your social media, any ads or posters you do, and when they walk into your brick-and-mortar location. Consistent branding subconsciously lets people know that you are a company that keeps its promises and sticks to its values. That might seem like a lot to put on a handful of colours and a font, but it’s true.
Share What Makes You Unique
This sounds trite, but branding is an opportunity to separate yourself from the competition right from the get-go. Whatever makes your brand special, make sure to keep that at the forefront of people’s minds with your branding. Successful brands aren’t afraid of their uniqueness, they are confident in giving customers something that their competitors don’t. So, what’s your uniqueness and how can it serve you?
Consumers know that they have an almost endless parade of options to pick and choose from, so they will very quickly move on if you don’t give them what they need. Customers expect a similar experience every time they interact with a company, so it is up to you (and your marketing team) to ensure that it is a good one. If they enjoy their experience, they’ll keep coming back. This builds brand recognition and will garner word-of-mouth recommendations, which are the most powerful form of recommendation when it comes to turning prospects into purchasing customers.
Word-of-mouth is even more effective than paid ads, resulting in five times more sales.
of people say that word-of-mouth increases brand affinity (a customer's common values with a brand)
of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing.
Even if it doesn’t translate into immediate sales, good marketing and consistency in branding will at least lead to brand recognition and interest. The goal is to have your brand be in the back of people’s minds so that when it comes time for them to make a purchase, they think of you. If you want them to think of you in a positive light and know that they can rely on you to deliver the experience they’re looking for, being consistent and showing up is a great start.
This will also help you to grow your audience while staying true to your core consumer group - those who have supported you from the beginning. No matter how quickly your business grows, be sure not to forget that core group or the values and mission statement that got you here. It’s important to adapt with the times, but it’s equally important to stay true to yourself.
Regardless of your industry or specialty, you should work hard to build your brand's credibility. Through consistent branding, you can maintain your credibility and continue to grow your following. Consistency is the key to keeping your following engaged, based on the values you stand for and the imagery you use.