With so many marketing outlets available today (social media, internet advertising, print media, and television, to name only a few) it can be easy to publish content on a whim without giving much thought as to how it will affect your brand on a larger scale. This is particularly true if you have a team of different people heading up various aspects of your marketing department. The person in charge of keeping your IG and Facebook up to date may not be of the same mindset as the person printing your fliers or the person creating your Google ads. Having brand consistency is, however, essential to your long-term success.
What is Brand Consistency?
The term brand consistency refers to keeping any messaging put forth by your brand in alignment with its larger identity and core values. It ensures that your audience is regularly being exposed to content, visual elements, messages, and other marketing components that will help them to recognize your specific brand and set it apart from your competitors.
Why is Brand Consistency Important?
Brand consistency is important for myriad reasons. It is not just so your social media feed looks visually appealing. Or, it’s not so your employees have some visual direction for their graphics. Here are some reasons why brand consistency is so important.
For one thing, it is an easy way to bring your marketing efforts to the next level without even trying. The more familiar your audience becomes with your brand, the more likely they are to automatically think about your brand whenever they see any images, colors, or messaging that reminds them of it. In other words, the more recognizable your brand becomes, the more it works for you without any effort on your part. Think of a big brand like Target. They have done such a successful job of marketing (even with a simple, single-colored logo) that any time you see a bull’s eye or a miniature bull terrier, your thoughts are likely to wander to your next shopping experience there. It is genius when you really think about it.
Secondly, creating a recognizable brand helps your audience to understand what you are all about. The more that they learn about your brand, the more relatable it will become to those who have similar values. As your customers begin to feel more connected with your brand, they begin to trust it more and become more deeply devoted to it.
Consistently branding your company can also help to associate your brand with positivity, which is a huge selling point for most consumers. We all want products and services that will make us feel good and the messaging that your audience receives is their first interaction with whatever you are offering.
Stick Out Amongst Competitors
Lastly, brand consistency helps you to stand apart from competitors within your niche. When you think of coffee, for example, Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks are probably among the first few brands that pop into your head. This does not necessarily mean that their coffee is better than Green Mountain or Maxwell House. It does, however, mean that they have done a better job at homing in on their consumers, understanding those consumer’s needs, and creating brand messaging that speaks directly to a broader audience.
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How to Create Brand Consistency
Your brand is an assortment of many different elements working together to send a concise message to your audience. People learn and perceive differently, so you will have to work equally as hard on each individual element.
The first step in creating brand consistency is to get to know your brand personality. Which human traits and characteristics would you want to be associated with your brand? Are you trying to send a message of sincerity, excitement, sophistication, ruggedness, competence, or otherwise? Depending on your answer, what traits will you have to showcase in order to get this feeling across to your audience?
Know Your Audience
Once you’ve identified your brand personality, you can get to know and understand your audience. An “exciting” brand, for example, might be aiming at a younger, more daring audience. A “sophisticated” brand, however, will likely be targeting a more upper class and established audience.
Your visual branding will rely heavily on the information you gleaned from the first two assessments. Exciting brands will lean toward imaging that is trendy, cool, unique and which makes their audience feel independent and free. A sophisticated brand will choose images that evoke feelings of glamour, femininity or genteelness, and ease.
The words that you use will also need to line up with the personality and audience that you have identified. Using words such as “glamourous”, “special” or “smooth” would likely not appeal to an audience seeking a more rugged product or service, but they would do very well to interest a more sophisticated crowd.
The most important thing is to make sure that all of your messaging follows the same guidelines, regardless of the platform it is on.
If your brand does not seem to be taking off as quickly as you would like it to, there is a good chance that the thought of rebranding has crossed your mind. Before you go making any huge decisions here, there are a few things you will want to consider. For one thing, getting your brand to traction can take time. Patience is a key virtue to have when you are trying to get any business off the ground. Really give lots of time to consider whether it is worth going to the great lengths that will be necessary to launch a rebranding campaign or whether you can hold out a bit longer for things to shift.
If you do decide to rebrand, subtle is the word. It can be tempting to do a complete overhaul on your brand. But the truth is, you’ve probably reached a broader audience than you think you have. So starting completely from scratch could be like taking a huge step backward. If you have a color scheme and logo, don’t scrap the whole thing. Instead, change one or the other.
Maybe you don’t need to make any visual changes here at all. You can simply rebrand yourself by shifting the focus of your messaging. Maybe you determine that you will benefit from a complete overhaul. In that case, get very clear on what changes you would like to see so that you don’t run into the same problem again later down the line. Whatever route you choose to take, starting simple is typically a good place to begin. When you make changes and test out new ideas, be committed to getting back into consistency as quickly as possible so that you can begin to see results.
Maintaining Brand Consistency
Once you are certain that you have your brand “figured out”, you will want to make sure that your marketing plan is executable for the foreseeable future. And, you want everybody who works with/for you is on the same page. This is when it becomes so important to create a branding style guide for your company to follow long-term. Branding guidelines will clarify exactly what specifications must be met for your messaging to be consistent across the board as you move ahead. Implementing a branding style guide will help to ensure that your brand remains thriving and recognizable for a long time to come.
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