Picture this. Every time someone comes to take care of your lawn, they mow it at a different height. Sometimes they pick up the grass clippings. Sometimes they spray them all over your driveway. Once in awhile, they trim down to the dirt. You never know if your yard will be perfection, so-so, or just plain sad. How long would you put up with sporadic lawn care before going to another business who gets it the same every time?
Consistency isn’t just about lawn care—it’s also for any brand, anywhere. In today’s world, you have a lot of competition. And customers will only stick around if they can rely on you to give them the quality they love and trust. Over and over again.
What is brand consistency?
Staying on brand means a lot more than just getting your colors and logo right. It means following and using your brand identity, your brand guidelines, your mission, and core values all the time.
- Brand identity involves both your visual identity and verbal identity
- Your brand guide involves the rules surrounding the use of your brand assets
- Your mission and core values encompass what you believe as a business
To summarize, brand consistency means staying on brand and staying true to your core values. Whether on Twitter or on billboards, in employee learning or in client emails, your brand’s core look, voice, assets, and values should always stay the same. Because branding is more than your colors—it’s about the entire experience your audience has with your brand.
Why is brand consistency important?
OK, so why does consistency matter? People like to be surprised, right?
Well, that depends. People like to be pleasantly surprised. But if they expect a certain quality or service and it’s not given, this leads to betrayed expectations (think arriving to pick up a hot and ready pizza that’s not hot and not ready). But the reasoning behind brand consistency goes deeper than simply meeting expectations.
Consistency builds trust in your brand
People are psychologically wired to look for consistency and patterns. This is because we all have context-dependent memory, and it’s easier for us to remember information when we know the context for the memory. This is why it’s easier to remember a person’s name when you know some details about them, such as their family, their work, or their face.
For brands, memory works exactly the same way. When your brand stays consistent across all touchpoints, your audience’s context-dependent memory gets strengthened. As they remember you better, they get comfortable with you. They know they’ll never feel confused because your brand’s always the same across all touchpoints. If you consistently give great quality service, your audience will trust you to maintain that quality of service with every interaction. The linchpin here is obviously fulfilling that trust—and that takes hard work, careful strategy, and a whole lot of inner communication.
Consistency increases brand value
Once your audience trusts your brand, they’ll become loyal to your brand. This means that they’re willing to come back again and again (and sometimes pay more) since your brand has proven your quality in the past. When it comes to data, it’s hard to exactly measure how consistency affects your brand. But when Lucidpress and Demand Metric surveyed over 200 companies to study the impact of brand consistency, they found that brands that presented themselves consistently experienced an average increase in revenue of around 23 percent. And that’s not small.
Consistency creates creative flexibility
Nothing kills creativity like uncertainty. When you create verbal identity, a visual identity, and a strong set of core values, you give your designers and writers a foundation to grow on. These brand guidelines, assets, and values create helpful boundaries that give people the space they need to exercise creative thinking. Consistency should be wax on the bottom of your creative skis, not walls that lock you inside.
Being creative with your brand is critical because fun brands are like people. They respond to your tweets, answer your questions, and embrace every interaction with personality and flair. This means that while it’s important for your brand experience to consistently meet audience expectations, you can also give your brand the freedom to respond according to different contexts and situations.
Remember: staying on brand doesn’t mean you always need to use 70 percent red and 30 percent white on all your designs. It just means that you’ve established consistent boundaries and created a large sandbox for your brand to play in.
5 ways you can create a consistent brand right now
Creating a consistent brand is important. It builds audience trust in your brand, increases your brand value, and gives your team creative elbow room. But getting from “brand consistency sounds like a fantastic idea” to “our brand is consistent across all touchpoints” takes some strategy.
1. Change your mindset
Your brand isn’t a logo and a memorable catchphrase—it’s the quality of your customer service, your core values of honesty and quality, and your half a teaspoon of sass. See your brand as a holistic experience, not as a numerical range of CMYK values.
2. Keep your people on the same page
When you hire new employees or contractors, onboard them to your brand, no matter their position. Do more than share your values, live your values. And make it easy for every person in the organization to access your brand guide and assets.
Helpful tip! Many companies make public sites dedicated to their brand. Check out how Uber celebrates its brand with a beautiful website and downloadable brand assets. Or take a look at how Mailchimp lays out its content style guide. While making your brand guide public is optional, a public brand makes it easy for everyone to access, anywhere, anytime.
3. Run all new content past your brand equity, values, and audience
Ever seen a brand make a confusing decision that seems completely off brand? This often happens because they didn’t check their new content against their values, pilot it with their audience, or keep cultural sensitivity in mind. Just because it might sound like a good idea in the boardroom doesn’t mean it’s a brand idea.
4. Limit and schedule any changes to your branding
While you want your brand to stay relevant as long as possible, it’s not likely that your entire brand will stand the test of time. Brands evolve, times change, things need to be updated. But don’t do this too often! Limit any updates to your brand and evolve your brand slowly enough that even if customers see the brand updates, it won’t surprise or startle them.
5. Don’t let old brand assets hang around
After you make a brand update, archive old assets with a vengeance. While it’s good to keep some documentation, put outdated assets somewhere safe and lock the door. The last thing you want is last decade’s logo floating around on letterheads. And remember to keep everyone updated about any changes—great internal communication is the best way to keep your brand consistent.
Keep your brand consistently flexible
Do more than meet expectations—beat expectations. This is easy to say, but tough to do. Fortunately, with consistent brand presentation, great internal communication, and a flexible yet solid foundation for your creatives to play on, you can power your brand with consistency and increase your ROI. Everywhere. Every day.
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