Articles and discussions about branding, re-branding, and brand consistency are everywhere on the internet. That is because a company’s brand is at the very heart of who the company perceives itself to be and how it is represented. The brand presents a clear message to the outside world about who the company is, it guides the company internally, shapes product, marketing, and operating decisions, and even tells the general story of how the company came to be. Re-branding your company can go a long way toward revitalizing it and often it makes sense to take this step. However, re-branding should not be confused with poor branding consistency. Taking new and different branding steps each time you sign up for a social networking site, release a new ad campaign, or repaint your storefront is not rebranding; it is simply inconsistent branding.
What is Brand Consistency?
Brand consistency refers to consistently presenting the same, unified message and look to the public. This relates to things like using the same font and graphic in your logo, identifying your company by the same name in all of your ads, press releases, and interactions with customers. This can even include using the same handle and avatar on various social networking sites. One aspect of brand consistency is for your company to look the same across all platforms.
However, brand consistency is about more than just visual appearance. Brand consistency is also about the attitude, focus, and culture of your company. It is about marketing yourself in similar ways each time. Are you a cost-friendly, low prices company or a cutting edge, luxury company? It represents the position you are taking in your industry as your sales proposition.
Why Does Brand Consistency Matter?
Brand consistency matters because it helps customers figure out who you are as a company and even whether or not they want to do business with you. In the example above about portraying yourself as either a company of low prices or one of luxury and quality…this matters because you don’t want to send conflicting messages that could cause you to lose major segments of both target groups. For instance if you want to appeal to customers on a tight budget, but they have just seen your commercial featuring trendy, rich actors in leisurely, high-life activities, then they won’t immediately think of you as a company in their price range and may not even bother to check your actual costs. On the flip side a customer who is label conscious and looking for only the highest quality, regardless of cost, may immediately rule you out without even checking your actual product quality if you’re perceived as as the value option.
Apart from helping your customers understand who you are as a business, brand consistency also makes you more recognizable. If you do business under many different names, logos, colors, slogans, etc. then there’s a good chance that your customers won’t even recognize you as the same company they just purchased from. This prevents you from building up a cache of goodwill and trust. It also dilutes all of your marketing and advertising efforts.
How Does a Company Improve Brand Consistency?
Improving brand consistency comes down to making conscious, thoughtful decisions every time you make your company visible to the public. This means doing things such as consistently calling your company by the same name. For example if your business is called “Rob’s Electronics” then make sure that you always call it exactly that rather than occasionally answering the phone “Rob Smith’s Electronics” or releasing a press release and using “Rob’s Electronics Store” or placing a commercial and using the name “Rob’s Speakers and Electronics.” Instead every time your name is released to the public it should always be “Rob’s Electronics.” Furthermore, if someone else writes an article about your company or references it online or in print in general, make sure that they are also using the correct name. If you see your company referenced incorrectly then go ahead and politely request that a correction is made. Far from being nitpicky this actually helps remove confusion for potential customers and even does a service for the audience receiving the message.
As mentioned above it is also important to use a similar username across various social networking sites and it is even helpful to use a similar looking avatar so that your company is quickly and easily recognizable. If you have a company motto or slogan, make sure that it always appears the same way until you officially change it, and avoiding changing it too often so that it truly does make an impression with your customers. The same advice should be taken regarding your logo.
Whenever you release advertisements make sure that a similar message is coming across each time. Once again this means not promoting yourself as a value company in one ad and then turning around and promoting yourself as a high-end company in the next. Figure out your focus and target demographic and consistently stick to it so that your marketing dollars get the most bang for their buck.
Building a strong, consistent brand image can be a challenge. This is especially true if your company is just starting out or needs to recover from previously sloppy branding efforts. However, there is no denying its importance. Effective, consistent branding is one of the strongest things you can do to support your company in its effort for growth and success.