When your marketing presents a similar message with a matching voice, visual style, tone, and color palette across all channels—online and offline—it enables people to recognize your brand and understand what you have to offer. Brand consistency helps you stand out and encourages people to interact with your brand. When you communicate your brand message consistently, your marketing is credible and persuasive, which drives business results.
In this article, we'll cover how to build a strong brand and how to maintain brand consistency so that customers can recognize your brand and trust your brand, which makes them feel comfortable buying from you.
What is Brand Consistency
A brand lives in the minds of its audience. It is the collection of experiences, relationships, and impressions a person has with a company, product, or service. Also, the brand identity consists of various elements (like name, aesthetic, language, and imagery, which form the customer's impressions of your brand.
Branding has become incredibly complex and nuanced in this digital age as the number of channels for brand presence has rapidly grown. Brand consistency means your audience receives the same impression and experience of your brand across all of these communication channels. Conveying the same brand identity elements across channels leads to brand consistency.
Why You Need Consistent Branding
Brand consistency is critical for every business because it directly and immediately impacts your brand's perception, both internally and externally. Poor brand consistency can decrease trust and harm your reputation. Excellent brand consistency can build confidence in your company and lead to more engaged employees and customers.
Achieving brand consistency is a vital mission for 81% of brands. Understanding the benefits of brand consistency helps to highlight how to approach it to leverage its benefits for your company. Here's how brand consistency can help your company:
Enhances visibility and brand recognition
Research has proven that brand consistency is correlated with an increase in brand awareness, which is the first step in the buying process. The rule of seven estimates that the average consumer must be exposed to a brand seven times before purchasing.
Consistent branding creates a memorable impression in a consumer's mind, making it easier for customers to recognize and feel familiar with your brand. This familiarity instills loyalty and trust. Customers that have greater trust in a brand are more likely to become loyal customers and share their positive experiences online or with their network.
Consider Nike's brand consistency, which has resulted in consumers immediately recognizing Nike as the trusted brand for running shoes. Many people have a difficult time envisioning anything other than Nike for buying running shoes.
Create a positive customer experience
Customers engage with brands that provide them with a great user experience, and a vital component is giving customers what they expect. Ensuring your audience hears the same messaging, tone, voice, and language across all interactions and channels offers a positive experience that reinforces their trust in your company.
Additionally, when brand consistency is implemented effectively to improve the customer experience, companies could see a 33% increase in total revenue.
Brand consistency impacts the customer experience when customers can go to various communication channels and receive the same message. For instance, a customer asks a question about a product via chat on the website and on social media. The question is answered by two different customer service reps. Still, because the messaging, voice, and tone of the response are similar, the customer feels secure that the information being disseminated is accurate. Their trust increases in the brand because of the consistency in their interactions.
Boosts the perception of your brand's value
Consistent communication across all platforms will boost the value of your brand in your audience's minds. Each time a positive, consistent experience occurs, it may allow them to value you over your competitors. The customer has greater engagement and loyalty, resulting in higher revenue for you since new customers cost five times more than existing customers. Not to mention, the top 5% of customers generate 30% of revenue.
Consumer surveys show that when customers feel their brand experience is consistent with their expectations, it increases their satisfaction, leading them to become members of loyalty programs and consistent customers of a brand. Those customers who join a loyalty program are the ones who are committed to your brand, and continued focus on brand consistency within that program can help nurture their loyalty even further.
Brand consistency examples
To better understand the concept of brand consistency, we have included some examples of brand consistency in the following sections.
Netflix promotes its brand across many channels with quotes from famous movies and television shows in a way that is energetic, fun, and sometimes self-deprecating.
The brand of Netflix has managed to remain remarkably consistent as the business has transformed from a mail-order DVD rental service to a popular video streaming platform and now has become a television and movie show producer as well. Consumers trust Netflix because they continue to deliver quality content in a competitive industry.
Starbucks achieves brand consistency despite operating almost 33,000 stores worldwide. After suffering a sales slump in 2011, company officials instituted some major changes to their company's logo.
The words "Coffee" and "Starbucks" were removed from the logo. This move aligned with a new line of Starbucks merchandise such as shirts and coffee mugs. Both initiatives made it clear to consumers that the organization had a clear intention to offer a wider selection of non-coffee-based products. It also showed that Starbucks had confidence in its brand that the famous Starbucks Siren would be recognized on her own.
This simplified logo which appeared on all company products boosted the brand's visual identity and made it stronger. With their consistent branding and access to a wider target audience, the company's stock price tripled in the months after the rebranding had launched.
Heineken is most notable for its event-based marketing campaigns characterized by the high production value. These campaigns target younger consumers with a busy social life using music, sports, and innovative graphics that reinforce the brand's distinctive red star and green color palette.
The company realized early on that beer was a social product and that the best way to make friends was to purchase them a drink. As a result, he focused on selling the Heineken brand rather than the pilsener beer contained in every bottle. This approach to marketing continues to this day, allowing the company to promote universal values of social status, friendship, and a good time to a global audience of beer enthusiasts.
- Brand consistency is the ability to market in a way that is consistent with your company's values, identity, and overall brand strategy.
- Netflix found a way to consistently promote its brand despite undergoing wholesale changes to its business model. Starbucks simplified its logo to promote its coffee and non-coffee-related products. Their consistent messaging was such that the removal of two important words from the logo made its brand even more recognizable.
- The founder of Heineken realized the importance of promoting Heineken as a brand that appealed to universal consumer values such as friendship, social status, and fun.
Brand Consistency Elements
To put brand consistency into practice, you'll need a clear understanding of the different elements that make it up.
The brand message is the value proposition, which you convey to your audience through your brand personality to set the positioning within the marketplace.
Your brand message is communicated to your audience through your products and your verbal and non-verbal communication that describe what you do and how you're different from your competitors.
A brand's tone describes how a company communicates with the audience and is the manner in which the communication influences how the audience perceives the message. A brand's tone fluctuates from message to message and adjusts to meet the appropriate emotional inflection of the brand's message or content.
A brand voice refers to a company's broader personality, values and beliefs are. A brand's voice remains consistent across all communication channels and therefore generates a sense of familiarity and character that your audience resonates with. Also, a brand's voice includes its personality, its mission, beliefs, values, and history. It is always based on your audience and brand positioning. A brand's voice is similar to a person's character or personality. A person can change their tone and demeanor depending on the situation they're in, but their personality stays the same.
Brand design refers to a brand's visual identity by developing a unified system of design elements like colors, typography, logos, and photography and illustration.
A company's visual identity is the aesthetic embodiment of its personality and positioning. So, the most effective brand design is informed by research and guided by strategy.
When the brand design is effectively executed, the insights of research and strategy come to life in touchpoints like website, marketing collateral, packaging, presentations, etc.
Brand delivery through timing across channels significantly contributes to the consistency of experience. The channels you choose, and 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 Increase Brand Consistency
Brand consistency can't be treated as an organic process but instead needs to be clearly defined and then thoughtfully disseminated throughout the company. With many different teams working on many projects, it's vital that leaders in all areas of the company fully understand and are aligned with the brand. It must be discussed and confirmed regularly to keep it front of mind for everyone in the organization.
Define Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines, also called brand style guides, are essentially an instruction manual on how to communicate your brand. These guides lay out all the visual details and important notes about the company's voice, tone, and messaging. They come in a physical or digital booklet filled with examples of what to do and what not to do.
When companies take time to create brand guidelines, it helps to ensure that their brand image stays consistent no matter where their brand shows up. This will pay off in the long run, as your organization will generate the familiarity and reliability that improve brand loyalty. Brand guidelines transform how you promote your company, communicate with your audience, and scale your business. They are a go-to reference book for your internal departments — especially those that work in marketing teams and customer-facing experiences.
Teams can convey a consistent message across channels with branding guidelines at their fingertips. Since guidelines tie together a company's image, they can even help employees feel more connected to the organizations they work for and shape their personal goals and objectives. Brand guidelines can also be helpful for partners and affiliates who want to advocate on behalf of your brand.
What to Include in a Brand Guide
Here are the most common components you should include:
- Mission and values: Most companies include their core values and mission as part of their brand guides. Including the mission statement introduces new readers to the brand story and helps to reflect your mission in the design choices outlined in the guide.
- Logos: Make sure to have your company logo in the brand guide. Most companies have several logo variations for different situations. For instance, a large logo for bigger placements (think billboards or full-spread ads), a smaller logo for small placements (smaller ads or documents), and a tiny logo for special situations (such as digital apps). Also, include spacing and alignment requirements in your brand guidelines.
- Color palette: Every brand should have a set of brand colors when developing a brand identity. When coming up with the color scheme in your brand guidelines, list the hex codes, or RGB numbers, so that the colors are easy to find. It's also a great idea to break the colors up into specific palettes. For example, the brand guide can dictate the use of primary colors across all materials and secondary colors as accents.
- Typefaces: Many brand guidelines have a list of font styles and families used, including helpful style guidelines, like the ideal sizing and spacing. Laying out your typography eliminates the guesswork for designers, ensuring that all of your communications will look clean and consistent.
- Tone: When making your brand guide, including the tone of your organization's copy and visual identity. For visual tone, ensure the brand design matches the visual tone of your company. If you're a whimsical e-commerce company, design the brand guide with visuals that match your identity. For brand voice, define your ideal messaging tone of voice in a few words (Is your brand friendly? Scientific? Humorous?). Include examples of communications that you think perfectly match your desired tone.
Conduct a Brand Audit
A brand audit examines your position in the market, compares it to your competition, and assesses the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. The first step in conducting a brand audit is considering your brand audit strategy. This entails how you will assess and evaluate your brand in its current form.
This brand audit strategy gives clear guidelines on what needs to be analyzed during the audit. Think of the strategy as a summary of the entire process, including the purpose of the audit, the information that needs to be analyzed, and how it will be collected. In this phase of the brand audit, you may want to answer the following questions:
- What are your goals in the short and long term?
- What are your brand's mission, vision, and core values?
- Who is your target audience? How do you want them to think of your brand?
- Who are your competitors?
- What are your brand's strengths and weaknesses?
- What sets your brand apart from others?
Evaluate Brand Marketing Assets
Performing a brand audit involves evaluating all of your brand's marketing assets. This includes the following:
- Website design, colors, and fonts
- Email marketing content
- Social media content
- Sales and marketing brochures
- Digital advertisements
You should ask yourself, "Are these marketing assets consistent in terms of the design and intended tone of voice?"
Here are questions to help you evaluate your brand assets:
- Do all brand assets abide by your current brand guidelines?
- Can your brand assets be used across all marketing channels, or do you need to re-create them for each channel?
- Can they be re-used according to each social media platform's unique characteristics?
- Are you using a template that can be used when producing new visual content?
- Do these assets reflect and represent the image of your brand?
Improve Brand Management
You want to implement a robust brand management strategy for your business to keep customers happy and boost your brand's perception. Maintaining a positive image will help cultivate positive relationships, thus allowing your brand to thrive. Here's how you can have your organization better manage the brand perception.
Outline the parameters of how your brand should be represented—lay out the rules that the brand assets must satisfy, including the color palettes and fonts. Keep the rules updated, easily accessible, and clear to everyone involved in using brand assets.
Bring Employees on Board
Rules work best when everyone is on the same page. Ensure that there are rules of who can use assets, why, and in which scenarios are clear. Thus, employees can make quick decisions and ensures uniformity across all brand assets.
Include Third Parties
Lines of communication between consultants and suppliers aren't always as direct as internal communication. Involving third parties in brand conversations, providing access to brand asset materials, and building in time to update partners on asset changes can all be invaluable best practices for a brand and its assets. If possible, onboard third parties into any content management systems.
Workflows with clear action points allow team members to make the right choices over asset use. Transparency in workflows allows for improved collaboration and fewer misunderstandings.
When possible, centralize brand assets to offer easy accessibility and transparency. With all assets in one place, it is easy to see which assets need to be updated and where gaps need to be filled without wasting money on duplicating assets.
The impact of brand consistency
Brand consistency, while it may go unnoticed, can help you to build an easily recognizable brand that stands out among your competitors.
Brand consistency refines brand recognition.
Brand consistency ensures that your customers can understand the nature of your company, what its purpose is, and what it can deliver. It provides your customers a basis on which they can start to build their beliefs about your organization.
For example, if your brand colors are green and blue, your audience may think of your brand as an environmentally-friendly business. Then you can build on that perception with a caring tone and a purpose that's connected.
Brand consistency makes your company more dependable.
Consistency builds a reputation for your company that shows your audience they can rely on you. When you constantly use the same voice, show the same image and support the same values, it tells your customer that what you see is what you get.
Brand consistency creates trust.
The importance of brand consistency goes beyond repeating the same message. It's about helping your audience to understand your business on a deeper level. The buying process can be more emotional than logical. A crucial aspect in creating the right connections with your audience is helping them to feel as though they know your company.
People are likely to trust your brand if it feels more familiar than something brand-new. It's human nature. Give your audience the same consistent experience each time they interact with your brand, and you will end up with happier, more loyal fans.
Let Universal Creative Solutions Help
Establishing and maintaining brand consistency requires continual effort. It doesn't happen overnight. Laying the foundation for your company by performing a brand audit and creating brand guidelines will help you build a stronger connection with your customers. At Universal Creative Solutions, our consultants can analyze your brand and work with you to create the brand consistency that you're after. Whether it's instilling better brand management or helping you draft clear and concise brand guidelines for your team, we can help. Schedule a consultation with us today.