When you see a commercial on TV in the middle of your favorite show, and it features smiling women in tank tops and tees, you not only draw from it a light and fresh feeling, you instantly recognize the neutral white background and the content you are shown as being linked to the Nike brand.
How is this possible? Because Nike has consistently communicated their brand messaging through the celebration of health and backed athletic aesthetics and continues to stay consistent with its brand’s message, they have firmly cemented near-instant brand recognition by those exposed to it, regardless of where in the world they are.
The power of effective branding is hard to overstate. Consistent, powerful branding helps a business grow by expanding its reach, credibility, and a boost in sales. Of course, as a business, you are likely not familiar with the nitty-gritty attributes of brand consistency, so when working on setting up your brand, it is essential to partner with the top brand design firms that can most effectively implement your brand’s design. But before you get started on that process, you must grasp the pivotal nature of brand consistency and how it impacts your brand positively.
Brand Consistency Explained
Every brand has core values that guide how it establishes its brand identity and provides the optimal customer experience. Every marketing your business performs should therefore strive to be consistent with those guiding principles. Brand consistency is how a company can deliver the messages sourced from its core values across all touchpoints and channels.
By staying “on-brand” in this manner, companies can foster a cohesive relationship with their clients to foster trust and loyalty for the brand. The more consistent a brand is to its established principles, the more customers view it as recognizable and trustworthy. As customers feel a more personal connection and familiarity with a brand, the level of trust grows and matures into brand loyalty.
Think about it this way: Why do you go to your “favorite” coffee shop? Perhaps you know that you will get a product you already trust to be of a quality that you approve of and are looking for.
Research has shown that purchasing decisions are primarily subconscious (up to 95% of them are made that way). This means that the emotional component to purchasing decisions is much more prominent than purely practical. That being the case, marketers know to appeal to a consumer’s feelings rather than push the practicality of a particular product.
They do so by engaging in emotionally-driven marketing campaigns. Loyal consumers, who are already satisfied with an experience with a brand, are more likely to feel positively towards it, and therefore, are more likely to make further purchases.
If the messaging truly sells the brand rather than the products offered, one would think that every organization would align with the brand message. While this may be the ideal intent, too often, the branding message begins to reflect the one that the brand is looking to promote and the character and personality of the individuals putting the branding message forward.
The larger the organization, the more challenging it is to keep the brand message tight and on-point, as more people are involved with distributing it among various platforms. This haziness of the brand message can lead to a marketing portfolio that feels inconsistent and disjointed in the macro view of the organization.
There are other challenges to staying “on-brand” with messaging as well. When considering that the messaging must continue while the message remains consistent, many new creative ways are required to put forward the same type of messaging in the same style while simultaneously keeping the material fresh and original. Keeping a design “fresh” while sticking to a known brand identity can be equally as burdensome.
Perhaps the most difficult to control, the other challenge is the representation of the brand by its employees. Regardless of one’s role in the company, the organization expects them to be a brand ambassador, promoting the brand and its message to the world around them on or off the clock. That means that the expectation is for these employees to observe the core values of the company they represent.
These are some significant hurdles, and they require particular strategies to keep the brand message consistent in the face of many challenges.
Strategies For The Preservation Of Brand Consistency
Intuitive Brand Guidelines
By establishing brand guidelines, organizations can centralize the message that is expected to come from everyone employed there and includes visual and narrative elements. Whether it’s in the buyer personas, the brand’s story, or in the distributed marketing material, these elements should always be present and showcased in communication with the world about or about the organization.
Getting the message to all of the organization’s employees is another common challenge. One method that this is done is by the creation of a brand portal and a digital asset. These resources are to be made available to all of the organization’s members. As all of the members have access to these guidelines, the organization must keep the guidelines current and updated so the staff can reference them at any time.
The visual elements are another pertinent factor in a cohesively consistent branding strategy. To retain the visual aspect of brand consistency, it helps to have a branding style guide that will ensure that all employees of the organization have the same “best practices” when it comes to using visual elements in any brand communication.
DropBox is an excellent example of this visually unified approach. Every type of communication from the company includes the company’s unmistakable logo, keeping the brand consistency secured with any customers who instantly recognize the cloud-based storage’s brand.
One solution for a style guide is DAM (digital asset management). For instance, certain fields on any communication documents can be looked at with the DAM system to keep the brand communication consistent while strategically allowing customization to other communication aspects.
Supporting Brand Efforts Internally
One of the best ways to promote and manifest a brand’s values, professionalism, and messaging is to educate the entire organization about its values. After all, support of brand efforts takes the whole company to achieve fully. But this type of endeavor doesn’t just come out of the blue. The internal efforts of this sort need someone to head them up, ensuring that the brand awareness is clear and maintained by every aspect of the organization.
The person (or team) deemed for this role is titled a brand manager. Their job is to ensure that the brand’s voice and the best practices from the brand’s perspective are understood by every member of the organization and followed to maintain the desired brand image.
Continuous And Expedited Brand Development
Markets change, and as such, brands are often forced to evolve to adjust to these changes. This involves adapting the brand’s standards to meet the newest market needs. The balancing act is to implement the necessary adjustments while keeping brand consistency and the brand’s core principles intact.
Market changes do not mean that core values for a brand have to change as well. After all, it is the total of these principles that have defined the brand throughout its existence. Instead, the changes to adjust to market needs should come in updated designs, logos, and color palette selection.
For instance, a company that sells skincare products would need to adjust the market demand for reducing plastic waste. They can do so by redesigning their product containers/bottles to utilize some percentage less of plastic, or perhaps, they can begin using recycled plastic to generate their containers instead. This still keeps the brand identity intact while also providing an opportunity for growth, as the brand still adheres to the demands of a changing market.
Staying Ready For Changes
No one does well when blindsided by a need to change, so it is vital not to prepare for change but to stay ready to embrace it as it comes along. Using digital asset management software (DAM) is a common way that brands prepare to deal with change while still retaining the guiding principles of their brand.
With DAM systems, the organization can store all of its marketing assets and have them available to the organization’s staff at any time. This is also an effective way to inform everyone of any pertinent changes unilaterally. Because the DAM centralizes everything stored in it, all the users reference it look to the same place. That means that all of the information is up to date and readily available for reference.
Building trust from your target audience hinges on your brand’s consistency. Once a brand cements its messaging and visual elements, they become part of the brand’s identity. The character and maintenance of the brand identity ultimately lead to consumer recognition of the brand’s products, building a solid connection with the consumers, and is a genuine way to live up to consumer expectations.
The strategies discussed in this piece are best suited to raise the image and standard of the brand in the eyes of the consumers. A professional design firm that you partner with can help you establish your brand from the earliest stages of the design process to have a solid brand image to maintain. Please make sure you communicate your needs to them thoroughly to best assist you in fostering the brand you need.