Simply put, your brand is a direct interface with the customer, and therefore its impact on their perceptions of your company or product should not be underestimated.
Every business owner should be asking: “How can I make my brand work so that it communicates the right messages and reaches the right people all of the time?”
One of the most important aspects of communicating a brand visually and subconsciously is consistency – providing consumers with a universal experience across every touch point.
But maintaining brand consistency is becoming more and more complex. Media fragmentation means advertisers can now reach their target audience across a number of channels including TV, direct mail, social media, email, mobile and packaging to name a few.
While this provides brands with exciting opportunities to engage with customers, it also opens up the potential for greater inconsistency in communications.
Maintaining brand consistency means aligning all your marketing efforts and creating a common, easily-recognisable thread between your marketing messages, products and campaigns.
The top tips to maintaining brand consistency for SMEs:
- Ensure that brand consistency is present in every facet of your business. Presenting a consistent and coherent proposition to your target audience should be considered across every aspect of your business: from business/brand strategy right down to the choice of colour, stationery, ink and packaging used.
- Invest in your brand strategy. Regardless of the size of your business or budget, investing in expert opinion will ensure you have cohesive messaging and brand presence, ultimately saving you time and money. When appointing a strategic design agency, ensure they understand your business and your customer. Evaluate potential partners by ensuring they understand your business and your customer. Evaluate potential partners by ensuring they have the appropriate skills and the right scale to work across all relevant media channels.
- Ensure that the look and feel of your brand reflects your company personality and vision.
- Develop key messages that support your company values and product offering. These messages should not just be a list of facts and information, they must be delivered in a clear and compelling way, that talks to the customer – not at them. With so much competition in the marketplace, customers are looking for value above and beyond price and function.
- Execute brand consistency across every consumer touch point, be it at home, on the go, in store or on shelf. Appoint a brand guardian to ensure that your brand is consistent on all marketing assets and across its whole lifecycle.
- Outline the “allowable flexibility” for a brand. Consistency is imperative, but your communications need to work for the market and media they’re being used in. By appointing a brand guardian, you can ensure that, while remaining true to the master creative, communications use the appropriate visuals and language to optimise their effectiveness in every local market.
When looking at some of the world’s most globally-recognised brands – such as Google, Nike and McDonald’s – it’s clear that consistency is king.
When it comes to growing a brand and building a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship with your target audience, consistency across all touch points will ensure that your image is never diluted – and what you offer remains single minded, credible, trustworthy and never confusing.
For SMEs, consistency should be the most important factor in maintaining and growing your brand. Get it wrong and it can be hugely damaging. If branding isn’t consistent, consumers can become confused about what you stand for and you are likely to lose their attention along with their purchase, as they shift to a competitive brand that offers greater clarity.
Phil Jones is operations director UK at strategic design agency Anthem Worldwide.
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