Every company has an identity that it portrays to clients, customers, peers, competitors, and the public at large. This identity, otherwise known as your brand, is how you show your vision and mission to the world. You can, and should, do this through the words, designs, offerings, and perspectives that you use during every consumer interaction. What’s great about branded marketing is that it allows you to dictate how people perceive your company. If you’re strict about brand consistency, you leave no room for interpretation when it comes to the messages your company puts out and what you stand for overall.
What is brand consistency?
Brand consistency is the practice of delivering content that always aligns with your company’s identity and core values. It implies consistency in both written and verbal messaging, as well as visual designs. By centering all content around your mission and vision, as well as making every piece look and sound similar, you solidify your brand identity. This is how consumers come to recognize communications from your company quickly, because they know what to expect from you, regardless of the marketing channel.
Why is brand consistency important?
Have you ever seen a logo stretched out of proportion, pixelated or painted up with new colors and cringed? It’s a natural reaction to lack of brand consistency! Continuity and uniformity show that your brand is stable and professional, which is what any consumer wants from someone they’re considering doing business with. Every interaction they have with your brand should prove your dependability. Through doing this and being strict about brand consistency, you gain the trust and respect of consumers and grow your loyal customer base.
When you leave room for interpretation of your brand identity, people become unsure of what your brand stands for. Instead, be clear and concise in your messaging so that your stance is easy for anyone to understand. Many are surprised to find out that even small inconsistencies, like having a brand color a shade or two off, can cause confusion among consumers. Sticking to the same values, the same tone, and the same visuals over time leads to increased brand awareness.
If you’re still questioning the value of brand consistency, consider how many large companies you’re able to identify based solely on color scheme, logo, or tagline. According to Business Insider, McDonald’s golden arches are the most recognized symbol in the world. A survey by Sponsorship Research International found that 88% of participants could identify the arches and only 54% could name the Christian cross. Do you think if every restaurant in the chain had a different sign, so many people would still recognize them? It’s the repetition that comes with brand consistency that makes brands easily recognizable.
How do you maintain brand consistency?
The first step is to establish brand standards. This will require internal meetings that should include your marketing team and any creatives in your company. Discuss your mission and vision and how you can convey the emotions and attitudes surrounding them through your messaging. Then do the same thing with design and start getting specific about your logo, colors, and fonts. You can’t be too detailed during this process.
Next, you should create a brand standards guide that contains all the decisions you’ve come to during your meetings, such as...
- Acceptable designs, most importantly your official brand logo. You should also include information about when and how they should be used.
- Approved brand colors. Colors are communicated in all different types of formats depending on what they’re being used for, so make sure to include all the information necessary for your marketing efforts in your guide. For example, your printer will be looking for CMYK (four color process) tint matches or PMS colors. Brand color standards also have to work across multiple output medias such as coated paper, uncoated paper wide format substrates, etc.
- Information about text used in content. This should include your brand’s fonts as well as an explanation of the company’s editorial voice so you can ensure that all of your company’s messaging has the same tone and expresses the same brand identity.
Once your brand standards guide is completed, you should make sure all employees have access to it and are educated on the contents. Your brand should be part of your corporate culture. Everyone in your company should understand, and enjoy, what you’re all about. By having employees that embrace your brand, you’re more likely to have your identity expressed accurately to consumers. Alongside the guide, you can also create a shared folder that contains branded design elements and content templates which make it even easier for everyone to be strict about brand consistency. Also, don’t forget your print partner needs to have the brand guide as well!
Now it’s time to implement your established standards. Marketing content should always be approached with brand consistency in mind – from topics, to editorial voice, to specific messaging. Consider what pieces of visual content, such as photos or videos shared on social media, should include your logo. If you stay consistent with these practices, it will really help with brand recognition.
You should also set procedures to ensure brand standards are being followed. There needs to be a system in place to monitor internal compliance, which could be in the form of an entire dedicated team or a specific review and approval process. Some large organizations employ brand compliance managers to ensure everyone follows the rules. Find what works best for you based on your company’s size and needs.
Once you’re happy with your brand standards and your processes for maintaining brand consistency, don’t forget that they should be applied everywhere. It doesn’t matter if your content is online or off, created by your internal team or being produced by your print partner. According to a study from The Verde Group and the Wharton School, two-thirds of all shoppers use more than one channel to make purchases. This is part of why it is crucial for branding to be consistent across all touchpoints.
All of your marketing efforts should work together, so your branding should be consistent on every platform. Any outside companies you work with, such as printers, should be on the same page about this. It helps to find a printer you are comfortable with, and once you establish that relationship, order all the materials you need through your main point of contact there.
A good print partner will care just as much about your brand consistency as your internal team does. Once you give them a copy of your guide, they will familiarize themselves with your standards. True professionals will have their own internal processes and procedures for dealing with brand consistency. Developing a partnership with a good printer means they will keep records of, and files related to, all of your past projects and ensure that visuals remain consistent from piece to piece. When it comes to brand consistency, getting everyone on board and working in unison is what it’s all about. Make sure to partner with others that agree.