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The importance of brand consistency
19 January 2021 11:57am
When it comes to brand consistency there are few in the big tech sector who have got it completely right. Forbes names the top five companies in the sector for brand consistency as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook — there are no real surprises here. While the companies may span a wide range of industries, products, services, and solutions, the one thing they all have in common, is that they have mastered the art of branding.
Branding can be defined as the creation and coordination of all assets associated with a company or product; for example, names, logos, slogans or catch phrases, designs, and imagery. It also includes the emotive elements – like photography and videos – which establish and nurture relationships with the brand’s consumers: the better the relationship, the better the brand recognition.
What happens when it goes wrong?
When an organisation or company fails to maintain consistency within its branding, they risk diluting the value of their brand and reputation. Over a period of time, this will have irreversible effects for a business and will negatively impact bottom lines, with (sometimes) disastrous consequences.
Take Tropicana’s rebrand in 2009. The simplified packaging, logo, and colour pallet, teamed with new marketing campaigns, spelled disaster for both the company and the citrus farmers they work with when consumers failed to recognise the cheap, generic branding – even though the product itself didn’t change. Despite the taste of the juice remaining consistent, sales dropped by as much as 20% (around $20m) before the rebrand was scrapped and the older, familiar branding design was re-established.
Largely speaking, we know what brand consistency is, and why consistent branding is important. But this last year, during the Coronavirus pandemic, has dispersed marketing teams more than before, and added more complexities to the mix. With many non-essential shops shut for large portions of the year, brand loyalty has really been tested. And when brands expose people to inconsistent brand elements – a different logo or colour scheme, or different wording on a webpage to what they might read in-store – their audiences may not recognise them. Companies with inconsistent branding risk confusing their customers, and even coming across as untrustworthy, low-quality, and unpolished. Ultimately, these mixed messages can get in the way of a brand’s ability to sell their products, grow their business, and build customer loyalty.
How do you keep consistent branding across teams?
Unlike being a memorable person, being a memorable brand requires coordination from individuals and teams to deliver consistency across a customer’s in-person and digital experiences. Take a brand like New Balance. Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, you expect consistency in terms of the products available, the way you are valued as a customer, and the experience you receive when browsing. When these elements marry up, then browsing turns into a sale, brand loyalty is established, and a repeat customer is formed.
As organisations grow, introducing more people, teams, and brand elements into the equation, it becomes more complex to control consistency across all the touch points. While different tactics work for different brands, the most successful keep their brand in check by implementing the following:
● Brand strategy: This is a long-term, documented plan for how an organisation will leverage its brand to achieve business goals and create a cohesive customer experience. At a minimum, the brand strategy should outline a brand’s promise, core values, personality, audience, and competitive positioning.
● Brand rules: A brand identity kit contains instructions on how to implement the brand and should be used by everyone that touches it (e.g., freelancers, agencies, and internal teams). The kit needs to include visual aspects like logos, fonts, and colours, as well as characteristics that humanise the brand, such as tone and voice, and even customer profiles.
● A single source of truth: Teams also need to have a central location to store and access the guidelines and files for brand use. For some, a file-sharing tool like Dropbox or Google Drive is enough. For others that need a more robust, search-friendly solution that tracks and measures how their teams use files, a digital asset management (DAM) system is the answer. And for manufacturing or retail businesses, a DAM solution with product information management (PIM) capabilities can have a transformative impact on their workflows.
The result is consistency
By putting the right people, processes, and tools in place, organisations are better positioned to deliver on the holy grail of branding — consistency! By giving people secure, self-service access to approved, on-brand materials, brand ambassadors can remove the temptation for teams to create their own customer-facing content or misuse the brand in communications. Make it your new year’s resolution to deliver consistent branding to your customers and enjoy the results for many years to come.
By Jake Athey, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience, Widen