You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘consistency is key’ when it comes to branding, but have you ever really considered why it’s so important?
Quite often, an ad will come on TV or the radio and I instantly know what brand the ad is for before the logo appears, or the name is announced. I’m sure you have experienced this too.
Perhaps you’ve heard or seen the words “can lives here”, “just do it”, or simply “yes”. Be honest, you knew we were referring to CommBank, Nike and Optus, yeah? If you didn’t, which rock have you been living under?
Perhaps you’ve seen the below yellow and red tones together and instantly thought of McDonald’s. Or, the colours green, yellow, red and blue, and just can’t get Google out of your head. It’s said that colour improves brand recognition by up to 80%, so this isn’t uncommon.
Brand consistency is when your customer experience is consistent across your words and visuals, so if for any reason one is not present, the brand is still recognisable.
Brand consistency is about trust. To trust a brand, people need to feel like they know you. To feel like they know you, they need to be aware of and remember you. To ensure you are remembered and recognised, consistency is essential.
What are the benefits of brand consistency?
We, humans, are complex beings with a brain made up of many complex parts. One of the most complex processes of the brain is its ability to remember information and events. Context plays an important role in memory, making facts and figures more meaningful. This type of memory is called context-dependent memory and it plays an important part in recognition.
If you want your brand to be recognisable and remembered, you need to ensure you are consistent so that you can be put into context.
There are a few different types of context-dependent memory including environmental, state-dependent, cognitive and mood. So, it’s important to understand that the way your brand looks, sounds, smells and feels is important in building and maintaining consistency, and in turn context.
Consistency helps to shape brand perception; it can evoke positive emotions, build trust and loyalty, as well as differentiate you from your competitors. Most of us don’t buy a product or service from a brand that we don’t know. It usually takes us a few times to see or hear about the brand for us to really take notice. By being consistent in your words and visuals, you are building brand awareness and trust.
It is said that consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%.
How do you create brand consistency?
There are two parts to brand consistency; words and visuals. Let’s break them down.
Brand Messaging (Words)
Brand messaging includes your tone of voice, personality and key messages. It also includes your purpose, vision and values. It’s who the brand is and why they exist.
To ensure you get your brand messaging right, you need to consider how you want to be perceived. A great place to start is by defining your ‘purpose’; your ‘why’, vision, mission and values.
Ultimately, your purpose will act as your north star and keep you on the right path when it comes to your key messages and tone of voice. When your messaging is consistent with your purpose, it becomes effortless and authentic. When you believe in where you are going, your audience will follow. 64% of consumers say that shared values create a trusted relationship with a brand.
Once you have a clear purpose and direction, you can define your key messages and tone of voice. Your key messages are what you want to say, and your tone of voice is how you say it.
If you’re a lawyer, there might be a need for you to be more professional and formal in your communications, but if you’re a beauty brand there could be an opportunity to be quirkier and fun.
Brand Identity (Visuals)
Brand identity is the most obvious of the two. It’s how the brand looks.
Your brand identity should reflect your brand personality and messaging. If your personality is vibrant and bubbly, you’ll want to ensure your brand visuals are fun and the colours vibrant too.
Your identity should also be unique to stand out from your competition. Just because your competitors’ brands are corporate, professional and clinical, doesn’t necessarily mean that yours should be too. Dare to be different and put your personality into it. You will find it much easier to be consistent when you are being authentically you.
So, once you’ve defined your brand messaging and identity, it’s important to develop brand guidelines. This is probably one of the most important documents you will create, alongside your business plan. Every business should have one, no matter the shape or size.
In your brand guidelines, you should include your purpose (why, vision, mission and values), language, tone of voice, key messages, logo variations and uses, motifs, graphic elements, patterns, backgrounds, iconography, fonts, image styling and colour palette. This then acts as a guide for all parties involved in the brand, including team members, printers, web developers, creative agencies, etc.
Remember, every stage of your customer journey should be branded to maintain consistency. So, think about all marketing touch points and ensure they follow your brand guidelines. These include:
- Social media
- Email marketing
- In-store environment
- Corporate stationery
- Marketing collateral
How can you maintain brand consistency?
We’ve talked about the importance of brand guidelines, but while 90 percent of businesses agree that it is important to present their brands consistently, less than half are actually doing so.
Brand guidelines aren’t a set and forget. They need to be enforced and constantly reviewed by the team to maintain brand consistency. However, getting your team on board with your brand identity and messaging can be a challenge.
You must be considerate in how you handle your brand and ensure you have clear standards. Remind your team why it’s important and pull up those that go rogue. Perhaps you could provide existing and new team members with a branding masterclass to communicate your expectations; what you want them to do and more importantly, what they shouldn’t do. Ensure that your brand guidelines are easily accessible and include a folder with images, graphic elements, and font files and licenses.
Templates are also a fantastic way to ensure your team can maintain brand consistency. You might have templates for documents, emails and email signatures. You can also provide your team with printed corporate stationery and collateral that they can use when networking or in meetings. Provide them with flyers and brochures in a digital format too so they can share them with their contacts and clients over email. Again, make sure you are thinking of every marketing and sales touch point.
Ultimately, to build and maintain brand consistency you are best starting with your brand guidelines. By ensuring this is right from the start, you will make it much easier to maintain and embed in your team culture.
If you need help building and maintaining brand consistency, get in touch with us today!