One important brand factor has the power to boost your company's value, and it's completely free: brand consistency.
A consistent brand helps increase the overall value of your company by reinforcing your position in the marketplace, attracting better quality customers with higher retention rates and raising the perceived value of your products or services. It also provides a rallying point for internal buy-in and helps employees understand how they fit within your organization. In contrast, erratic, inconsistent behavior quickly leads to confusion and mistrust.
But achieving brand consistency across every touch point of your company can often feel overwhelming or elusive. We created an overview of brand consistency to help you assess your brand and strengthen support for your business goals.
Value of a Consistent Brand
Consistency ensures you experience the full lift and benefit of your marketing and sales efforts – especially for B2B companies that have long sales cycles. Inconsistent messages create confusion for customers that may disrupt or slow down the buying process.
It’s also more effective at controlling costs – if you are completely changing your positioning every year, you incur expenses associated with retraining your team and recreating marketing materials.
As you develop a consistent brand, you begin to take ownership of your own niche in the market. When you choose a position and then consistently reinforce your position, it becomes more difficult for competitors to come in and take that advantage away. The ability to manage your market position trains customer expectations, setting a foundation for continued success.
Flexibility to Grow
When your organization understands the core of your brand, it is easier for your business to deal with change or take advantage of new opportunities. You can tie proposed actions back to familiar business goals and values. And because your company has been consistent in the past, when you launch a new product or program in-line with your overall brand, it helps customers see the change as just another step in your journey as a company.
Elements of Brand Consistency
As you strive to build brand value and trust, assess how consistency works across all aspects of your identity, including messaging, tone, imagery and delivery. These elements are the basic building blocks of a consistent brand, and most brand managers should be familiar with how they impact your brand.
A consistent brand message should clearly define your positioning and align with your core behaviors. If your actions consistently align with your message, customers begin to trust and delight in your service. If your brand promise is inauthentic or unable to be delivered, customers may feel disappointed or deceived.
Tone is an element that companies tend to forget as they develop their brand. Conflicting tones, however, lead to mixed messages. Is the spirit of your brand an aggressive go-getter who gets things done? A friend who is willing to lend a helping hand? If your tone switches often, customers may develop differing expectations about your product or service, making it more difficult to satisfy each customer each time they interact with you.
Imagery is perhaps the most obvious element in your brand consistency toolkit. Using brand elements thoughtfully and strategically helps build visibility and increases customer recognition and association. Consistency also builds increased legal protection for your brand should another company attempt to copy or imitate it.
Beyond these fundamental elements, the delivery of your brand through timing and across channels significantly contributes to the consistency of experience. The channels you choose, as well as the frequency of contact, create a rhythm of communication. This becomes increasingly effective as your company conducts research to better understand the types and amount of contact that your customers prefer.
How To Evaluate Your Brand for Consistency
Listen and Review
To understand how key audiences perceive your brand, take the time to periodically listen and review. Examine your internal processes and procedures to make sure they support your employees’ ability to deliver on the brand promise. Establish feedback loops with customers and employees to track satisfaction and gain insight into your business.
Be open to a discussion with clients or employees about your company’s weaknesses, and try to turn them into opportunities. Do not let preconceived notions about what your company does well get in the way of data. If the customer feedback survey consistently says your company provides terrible phone support, your company probably provides terrible phone support.
Scale Your Efforts
When presented with an opportunity to correct a problem, you either need to reexamine your position or alter and align your processes and culture. The ideal way to address an issue is with a consistent, concerted effort over time. Establish a set of goals and create a plan that is scalable. If possible, start small and begin with personal conversations with employees and customers on the feedback you just received. Ask your customer, “What would make this situation better?” Grow out your strategy with gradual testing and check-ins.
A single assessment can help align priorities and guide your business strategy, and ongoing surveys will provide a clearer picture of your company's consistency and performance over time. For the most complete view of your brand, you can scale your efforts towards real-time tracking with social media monitoring and other perception measurement tools.
Strengthen Your Brand Message with Internal Support
The consistency effort must start internally. You could have the world’s best marketing team preaching one thing to your outside audiences, but if you do not deliver on those promises, the effort is wasted. As you build your brand, it is vitally important to consider internal operations and the culture of your company in terms of how they will impact the brand experience. Figure out all the different touch points you have with employees and be intentional about how you use them. Attach brand goals to personal behaviors to make it simple for employees to understand how they fit within the greater mission.
For example, your hiring and promotion criteria should be tied to your core values so employees understand how brand attributes directly affect what matters to them, such as recognition programs or raises. If your company places value around responsiveness and fast, helpful service, employees with below average response times should not be promoted. Inconsistencies between what you say your company values and how your management acts can undermine your business goals and disincentivize employees from cultivating those behaviors.
Maintain Your Brand's Consistency
Once an organization has bought into the brand, you should not need to constantly tend it. Focus on delivering a consistent message throughout your company and recognize that anyone in the organization can help carry the torch. While leadership may have the loudest and most visible platform, be inclusive in your efforts and trust influential employees to support the brand from the ground up.
- Continue to track performance. As you measure the strength of your relationships, ask: Do your customers continue to trust you? Are they open to conversations with your business? Are they still fired up about your product? Listen and look for brand champions on the client side.
- Seek opportunities to create positive associations. Many companies align themselves with any organization that asks for a partnership or endorsement. This is often a missed opportunity to focus support on causes that truly represent the goals and values of your business. If one of your key brand goals is to be seen as smart, then you may want to focus on opportunities relating to education or research. The attributes of organizations you support often flow back and reinforce your brand by association.
Managing your brand's consistency requires effort, but gets easier over time as stakeholders become more familiar with how your brand manifests across different channels and touchpoints. The investment is minimal compared to the returns it provides for your overall business value.
To learn more about the different touch points that contribute to your overall brand experience, view our Slideshare presentation on “The Elements of User Experience.”