The other day, I spent a solid 25 minutes explaining the nuances and systemic problems of an off-brand car decal to my boyfriend. How he is still with me after 8 years of overthinking and out-loud rambling sessions about the ins and outs of branding, I have no idea. After feeling his cold blank stare of apathy hit my face, I realised this topic was better suited to a blog post than his ears.
And so here we are; you guys get the pleasure of enjoying yet another of Tess’ verbal vendettas on the topic of brand consistency.
As an agency, we often come across businesses that are unintentionally self-sabotaging their brand by executing their marketing strategy on the fly without giving too much thought to brand guidelines or overall consistency. It goes without saying: business owners are busy. Particularly in the early stages, we’re forced to do everything and be everything to everyone. We’re forced to make quick decisions on the fly, and that’s just the way it is. Trust me, I’ve been there done that, bought the tee-shirt and published an Instagram post whilst on the toilet. Did I just say that out loud?
Whilst I can appreciate that business owners are busy, I value the importance of consistency more so. If the first interaction with your customer is on-point, but then the second is sub-par, you won’t capture their hearts. Similarly, if you post six times a day for three weeks and then not at all for two months, you aren’t exactly providing a consistent experience. These everyday mistakes may seem harmless at first, but over time you will end up giving your audience the wrong impression of your brand.
The best brands have proven that customers want to buy from brands they know and trust. Letting your customers get to know you will mean they will identify with you and your purpose. And when consumers feel like they identify with you and can trust you, it’s a no-brainer that they will be more likely to purchase from you.
It may sound crazy, but I often refer to my brand as my religion. That’s how important it is to me – I live, breathe, eat and sleep Smack Bang in all of its san-serif, simple glory. Here’s the heart of why I believe branding is as important as religion…
- A CONSISTENT BRAND INCREASES CUSTOMER RECOGNITION
A brand reaches epic levels of fandom when it’s customers are able to recognise individual elements of the brand in the wild – a signature colour, a catchy tagline, or a token graphic on its own with the brand name nowhere to be seen. When you see someone carrying a white box, you don’t need to see the iconic apple logo emblazoned on it to know that someone has just spent a small fortune on a new piece of tech designed in California by a guy in a black turtleneck.
- A CONSISTENT BRAND INFLUENCES CUSTOMER PERCEPTION
By keeping a tight leash on brand consistency and making conscious decisions about how your brand is represented, you will have more control in determining the way your customer perceives you, feels about you and remembers your brand. Having brand consistency and continuity will eliminate any brand confusion or misleading ideas, and will indicate to your customers that you know who you are and what you stand for.
- A CONSISTENT BRAND BREEDS TRUST
Let’s say you see someone at your local coffee shop each morning. On Monday they’re dressed in a hot-shot tux and tie, Tuesday they’re rocking a safari suit and Wednesday it’s an Arabian Nights costume. You might find it hard, although somewhat entertaining, to figure out exactly who they are and what they’re all about. The same goes when you’re dealing with a business. If your brand is unpredictable, your audience will struggle to nail down who you are and what you’re all about, leaving them confused and feeling like your brand can’t be trusted. And we all know by now, that trust is the bed-rock of modern branding.
- A CONSISTENT BRAND FEELS MORE DEPENDABLE
Why do I always buy Aesop products even though they cost an arm and a leg? Because they’re predictable – every time I enter their store, I’m treated like a god. When I get home and crack open the tube, I love the product. Aesop is predictable – I know what to expect and I know I will like the result. By offering your people a dependable experience across all your touchpoints, you’ll make consumers feel more comfortable with your brand and be more likely to trust your product and service with pre-conceived ideas and expectations. Because let’s face it, no-one has ever said, “I wonder what this Coca-Cola will taste like?”
- A CONSISTENT BRAND INCREASES CUSTOMER CLARITY
Brand recognition is not just about getting your name out there, it’s about helping your audience get to know your brand as they would a good friend. By being consistent across everything you do, you eliminate any confusion about who you are or what you’re all about. A consistent brand becomes an iconic brand, with clear positioning and a strong promise. If you’re constantly changing your brand message, the message itself never has time to take hold in a customer’s mind.
- A CONSISTENT BRAND CUTS THROUGH THE CRAP
Back in the day, water was water. In today’s super-saturated environment though, even the poxiest little corner store stocks at least 5 different brands of bottled water. A consistent and finely tuned brand message will help you stand out in a flooded marketplace. Your busy, multi-tasking audience will know exactly what to look for and expect when they’re flying through life at a constant, crazy speed.