Why does brand consistency matter?
A few weeks ago, I was invited to talk to a local society here in Tulsa about Brand Consistency. When I was given the topic I was immediately excited to dive in and figure out where I was going to go with this subject! I preach consistency to my clients probably until they turn blue in the face (sorry guys!), but I take consistency very serious, not only in business but also in life and interactions.
This is probably something that none of us think about in daily life. We each have our unique personalities and characteristics that are constant and don’t vary. But have you ever met someone who changed the way they acted or behaved drastically based on the situation or environment they were in? It’s almost unnerving when you experience that, because consistency goes hand in hand with trust, loyalty and expectations. Your friends and family trust that they know how you are going to behave in certain situations and when you don’t, it comes as a surprise or shock to them.
This is the exact same in business. We each have expectations and ideas about specific brands in our lives and if they come out with something inconsistent with our expectations, that’s normally when you get a buzzfeed article with everyone’s opinions in memes or gifs. Just look at when Ihop announced a few months back that they were changing their name to Ihob and would sell burgers instead of pancakes people went nuts, because it was inconsistent with their brand and with what people knew of their business.
So now let’s bring this around to our business. We all are trying to create trust and loyalty with our customers so that they become ongoing buyers and apart of a community around us.
To grow that community and level of trust, we have to create consistency in our branding in every place a client would interact with us.
So why does consistency in your business matter?
Being consistent helps us manage expectations around our business and create a narrative and story that we can control and guide our customers through. It also stomps out brand confusion, which can be a very destructive thing to your business. Like storybrand says “confusion is the enemy”.
Let’s look at Starbucks for a moment. They probably have the most loyal following of customers that I’ve seen today. And it’s all around an expensive cup of coffee. A cup of coffee that you can get at ANY coffee shop, but people will go out of their way to get their starbucks. Our local starbucks almost always has a line out the parking lot with people waiting to get their cup and use their gold card. Why is this?
Starbucks was the first coffee brand that was known for encouraging a person to come in and completely customize their coffee order with no judgement, no questions and no comments. It’s also known for its consistency with flavor, service and experience. Each Starbucks you walk into has the same overall feeling and style, the same product, the same uniforms and the same friendly people behind the counter. It is one of the most consistent brands in the service industry and they have more than 28,000 locations in 77 countries today.
So what tactics is Starbucks and other popular brands with loyal followings using that we could emulate in our own business?
First of all, consistency matters! What you are saying over and over on social media and your website needs to be true when an actual customer goes through your process and/or experiences your business and products.
Your branding should come across the same whether it’s in person, on social media, or on your website. If it doesn’t, then you need to look for the inconsistencies and fix them. (A good way to check this is to ask. Survey past clients, close friends and family.)
The feelings that you are evoking with your branding (logo, colors, fonts and photo style) should be cohesive with your wording and messaging. (EX: If you want to evoke the feeling of stability in your business, the wording you use needs to be structured, consistent, and comfortable to reflect stability.)
Everything that a client experiences needs to look cohesive with your brand. That means that you need to use the same colors, fonts and photography style on your business cards as you do on your menus, brochures, presentations, etc. Your customer needs to be able to recognize that it’s your brand no matter what they see or experience. (If you’re a little confused on what a “brand” is, check out my last blogpost.)
Next week I’m going to give some applicable examples for creating consistency within your brand. I’ll also be giving my email list some applications for instagram, facebook and pinterest that won’t be shared here, so make sure to sign up and get those emails!