Every company has a brand identity.
This is true for your company whether you’ve made a single conscious branding decision or not.
And that’s why it’s vitally important to make conscious, consistent branding choices. The decisions left unmade, and a brand left untended may hurt your business.
As we previously explained:
A brand is the sum total of the experience your prospects and customers have with your company. A strong brand communicates what your company does, how it does it, and at the same time, establishes trust and credibility with your prospects and customers. Your company’s brand is, in many ways, its personality. Your brand lives in everyday interactions your company has with its prospects and customers, including the images you share, the messages you post on your website, the content of your marketing materials, your presentations and booths at conferences, and your posts on social networks.
Put another way, your brand is your company’s public identity. Ideally, your brand should embody the best (and most essential) attributes of your company. That’s pretty unlikely to occur if you leave your branding to chance.
Start by making deliberate, informed choices about what elements of your company’s personality and service philosophy should be featured. And once you’ve laid the groundwork, the key to branding success is consistency.
Customers can’t get to know (and trust) your business if they don’t have the opportunity to experience your brand in a consistent manner. Here are some compelling ways that consistent branding can strengthen your business:
- Easy brand recognition leads to positive associations.
- Consistency provides an advantage over the competition.
- Increased perceived value leads to higher sales.
Easy recognition = positive associations
Consistent branding offers many benefits to your business. The most immediately obvious benefit is that it provides easy recognition of your service or product among consumers.
An easily recognized brand benefits from mere exposure. The more customers are exposed to something – a product, a service, or your brand – the more inclined they are to like it. You can learn more about this phenomenon (and how you can use it to your advantage) in 7 Marketing Psychology Tips to Improve Your Business Marketing.
Familiarity increases positive feelings. And, consistent branding keeps your company in front of customers’ eyes in a reassuringly familiar form.
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Consistency is an advantage
Keep your branding consistent and you stand to edge ahead of your competition. BrandExtract, a professional branding firm with more than a century of experience, advocates for consistent branding techniques. They explain:
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.
A great example of this concept in action is the historic cola war between Coke and Pepsi. Coca-Cola has had the same logo and essentially the same brand, since its inception in 1892. Pepsi Co, on the other hand, has rebranded many times.
Coke, widely used to denote soda of any kind in the southern United States, is unquestionably the king of the cola kingdom. A 2015 Statista report revealed that Coke dominated the carbonated beverage market share at 48.6% to Pepsi’s 20.5%. Coke has clearly taken ownership of their market niche and successfully defended its advantageous position through, among other things, consistent branding.
Higher perceived value increases actual value
Consistent branding also increases your company’s perceived value. Perceived value, or the worth a customer assigns to a product or service in their mind, determines how much customers are willing to pay for that product or service.
And, that beneficial market position we discussed a moment ago helps to raise perceived value. People like to associate with “the best”. Just as the star quarterback sits atop a high school’s social pyramid, the company with the best market share gains prestige and loyalty as well.
BrandExtract points out:
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….In contrast, erratic, inconsistent behavior quickly leads to confusion and mistrust.
Making consistent branding choices increases brand recognition, helps establish a strong market position and grows sales through increased perceived value.
But where should you start if you want to make sure that you consistently brand your business?
Here are three best practices that will help you create a great, consistent brand.
One logo, all channels
For many, “brand” is synonymous with “logo”. A company’s logo should spark instant recognition whenever and wherever it appears. And, using one strong logo across all communication and marketing platforms increases the likelihood of that happening.
As we wrote previously:
One common mistake made by many small businesses and startups is to assume that once they have a great logo, they’ve created their brand and now just need to do a little bit of marketing. A brand is more than logo design. But marketing efforts can fall flat if you lose credibility with your marketing collateral. You must keep an eye on branding (easier for the world’s biggest brands – they can spend billions building their brands) because it’s too easy to make a branding mistake that can cripple your small business. For example, if your branding is inconsistent or consistently poor in email and content marketing campaigns, people will notice.
Your logo should appear on your website, business cards, stationery, product packaging, marketing collateral and social media.
So what makes an effective logo?
Customers recognize unique logos easily in a sea of generic logo design. Versatile logos translate well across all mediums – from large business signage to a tiny business card. And appropriate logos create logical associations in your customer’s mind, helping them to link the logo to your product or service.
Starbucks’ monochromatic mermaid logo is a perfect example of a unique and versatile logo that can scale to any size or marketing channel.
Once you have a great logo design, you can use it as a springboard into our next consistent branding tip – the style guide.
We just emailed the Brand Identity Guide to you.
Lock it down with a style guide
A brand style guide is the ultimate compendium of all branding info. If you want to create a consistent brand presence, a style guide is an absolute essential.
A brand style guide (also known as a brand book or brand guide) acts as a key document that helps content creators communicate a consistent message to your audience, so it’s a great asset for creating consistent, on-brand content.
A style guide is a set of rules to follow any time a member of your organization wants to publish, present or promote content for your brand. It answers questions like:
What font does your logo use? What colors are approved? When you need an image for a project, what tone and feel should it have? Should writers use “email” or does your organization prefer the hyphenated “e-mail?” What is your stance on the Oxford comma debate?
These seem like small details, but if they’re not captured in a style guide your beautiful brand can quickly drift into an inconsistent experience for your customers and employees.
But what, exactly, will you find in a style guide?
Your style guide should include all the information necessary for anyone to create content with your business’s unique branding signature. This includes visual info such as fonts, brand colors, logo, signage specifications, typography style and any other commonly used branded graphic elements. It should also cover less tangible items like ideal voice and tone, your branding mission and company philosophy.
When building your style guide, use your logo as a starting point. Take your color cues, font inspiration and graphic style from your existing logo. After all, since your logo will be appearing on all of your marketing materials (right?), everything else should be visually compatible with it.
To learn more about style guides, we recommend you read What is a style guide and how can you create one for your business?
If you create and follow a brand style guide you will ensure that any content you create reflects the spirit and visuals of your brand. It’s a one-stop shop for creating consistently branded content every time.
Deliver your brand’s promises
A fabulous logo, expertly deployed and a consistent style guide mean nothing if your business does not follow through on its brand promises in the real world. Remember that your brand should always be true to the reality of your business. Walking the walk is just as important, if not more so, than talking the talk.
Branding is the key to differentiating yourself from the competition, but if you don’t build your brand promise around reality or consistently live up to it, your branding efforts are pointless. Brands are built through the consistent delivery of the brand promise through all stakeholder touch points. It is the consistent, desired experience that builds trust and trust is the foundation for loyalty and promotion.
Make it simple to live up to your promises by creating a brand that is true to your business from the start. Focus your brand on the key elements that are most important to your company. This will make it natural and easy to follow through on the promises your brand makes.
Arruda goes on to explain in “Why Consistency is the Key to Successful Branding” that consistently delivering on your brand promises does more than just secure customers’ trust. It also creates fertile ground for your business to safely evolve and grow.
…being consistent doesn’t mean that you can’t change. In fact, consistency gives you a firm foundation for evolving into offering even more options for even more people. Once you have built a reputation through the consistent delivery of your brand promise, you have permission to evolve and expand.
Delivering on your brand promises today builds consumer trust that will benefit your business tomorrow. So set your business up for long-term success with a consistent, real-to-life brand that you can execute every day in every customer interaction.
If you want customers to buy-in and trust your brand, it must be consistent.
- Feature one logo across all channels.
- Create a branding style guide.
- Deliver on your branding promises.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll see your business grow with the support of a consistent, genuine brand presence.
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