Is Brand Consistency Important?
As the head of a brand, you understand why consistency is so important in branding. But how do you explain that to the myriad of departments, partners and people engaging with your brand? We will be exploring the answers to these questions below. Stick around till the end for our tips on brand guidelines.
Which Elements Make Up a Brand?
Brand value works from the inside toward the outside of your organization, and through repeated exposure. Your brand identity is not built up out of logos, fonts, colors, and a tagline. Ideally, your brand is based on a core idea or purpose. It is your mission or story that drives people forward.
Tangible brand assets should be made tangible in the way your brand looks, and through your products and services. As such, a brand is not only an asset for marketing. It is an asset for management, HR, and recruitment, first, and an asset for marketing and sales, second.
That is because making people in the market feel your brand starts with people in your organization feeling the brand first. This is all the truer in the wide-open, incredibly transparent internet era we live in, today.
But what we need to understand is that financial value is the external end point. The value of the brand starts from within. So, if it starts from within – how do you maximize that value creation? Through consistency.
Brand Guidelines: Why Consistent Use of Brand Assets Is Important
An organization’s story, identity, guidelines, and assets. Add colors, fonts, and logo design to the mix. All these elements combine to create a brand. And there is one thing all organizations can do to improve how they benefit from their brand. You see, consistency is the alpha and the omega of a strong brand.
Why? Focusing on branding and brand elements, the concept of consistency works in two major ways:
1. Consistency Between Core Brand and Visual Assets
You need to use the brand consistently in the sense that what you communicate, how you communicate and what your communications and content look like, are consistent with the identity of your brand. More so now than ever before, people in your audience will figure out if what you are saying and trying to show on the outside matches with what really goes on inside your organization.
2. Consistent Use of Assets
People need to be reminded of something multiple times before they can memorize it. Memories, feelings, associations – these are the psychological mechanisms that a brand is built up out of. You need to give people the exact same set of stimuli – or at least as perfectly the same as possible – to make sure you obtain that much-desired spot in their list of trusted and preferred brands.
If your audience is clear on who you are, knows what to expect, trusts you and like you, that means you’ve “branded” an impression through repetition and consistency – specifically, with your behavior, your words (your tone of voice, personality, and your overall message), and your brand visuals.
Inconsistencies in how your brand is used meanwhile, can damage internal brand value as well as external brand value.
The Financial Value of Branding
Read more: Brand ROI: What Is It and How to Measure It?
“Brands create financial value for their owners, and well-managed and consistently used brands more so than others.”
This statement feels true, and we can estimate that it should be true as we all have some concept of how brand preference can lead to greater market share, revenue, and profits – but also market valuations. But how can we know that strong brands add value?
Branding does not only hold and add value – but the relative added value is constantly increasing. This is influenced by the cost of production becoming so low for many products and even services over the last few decades, that the distinction from one vendor to the other is being made less and less based on the quality of what they are selling.
According to Millward Brown Optimor’s analysis, in 1980 the entire value of an average S&P 500 company was comprised of tangible assets (chairs, factories, inventory, et cetera). In 2010, tangible assets accounted for only 30 to 40 percent of a company’s value. The rest is intangible value, and about half of that intangible portion, close to 30 percent of total business value, is attributed to brands.
Even during the turbulent period since 2006, the BrandZTM Top 10 Most Powerful Brands Portfolio of stocks grew two-and-a-half times faster than the S&P – proving that even when economic tides are low, brand building is an investment, not a cost.
The Business Value of Brand Consistency
Next to showing that brand consistency is important because brand value is important, research has shown some more directly measurable effects of consistent use of branding: brands that are consistently presented can expect to see an average revenue increase of 33%. What else does research show about the link between consistency and brand value?
What Is Brand Consistency?
Repetition, for one. On average, five to seven brand impressions are necessary before someone will even remember your brand.
But remember – you build brand loyalty based on shared values with your consumers. It is not the number of interactions a buyer has with your brand, but the quality and relatability of the interaction.
Brand consistency is also made of managed variation. You want to be able to move things around, shake things up, and be creative. You must make sure that whoever is managing the brand stays in control of the evolution of the brand and of its assets.
Quality and Consistency: What Should You Be Consistent About?
This report by Deloitte shows how Purpose and Authenticity are going to be the determining factors in which brands survive and which will not in the decade ahead of us. Making an authentic connection at the human level will be at the core of what drives buyer decision making.
Therefore, not using a consistent approach to your brand could limit your chances to generate leads or sales. That is because people buy from brands they connect with, and brands which feel authentic. It is hard to connect with a brand that does not have a consistent appearance. Think about it this way: if a person you know behaves in a certain way – and they do it consistently across several contexts and situations – you will know that you can trust that person to behave in that way. The opposite is also true. And the same applies to brands.
What Are the Risks of Brand Inconsistency?
Inconsistent branding does not just impact your customers – it hurts employee morale too. Lucidpress reports that employees can feel embarrassed or demotivated when something goes wrong with your brand image.
Lucidpress also reports that the greatest negative impact of inconsistent brand usage is the creation of confusion in the market.
The importance of brand consistency is likely to keep rising soon, right along with the importance of branding itself. Customer expectations are on the rise – 45% of customers have come to expect detailed design. Meanwhile, while 95% of companies have brand guidelines, only 50% of companies report having brand guidelines that are easy to find.
Having your brand guidelines in one easy-to-find location is one way to improve the consistent use of your brand. But not the only thing you need to think of.
How to Be Consistent: Getting People to Use Your Assets Properly
Now, getting everybody that works with your brand assets to use assets consistently is something you will not achieve overnight. The aim of this article has been to help you get across the value of a brand and the reasons why consistent use of brand assets is important.
Some key points on managing brand consistency:
It should be clear who oversees your brand and the management of its assets. Often this responsibility falls on the CMO or brand manager of your organization, and their team. It is wise to have processes and guidelines in place for the usage of brand assets. A brand book and a brand style guide are two indispensable tools in that respect.
To help more easily manage your brand, we believe it is highly valuable to have one source of truth as to what your brand’s purpose is, and how that purpose connects everything we do and the way we do it. This is what a Brand Book helps you achieve.
A brand style guide is the place where you tell people more about your visual brand assets and how to use them. This is the number one place to tell people how and why to use the visual assets of your brand, like your logo and its variations.
Finally, having a Digital Asset Management platform that stores and organizes each brand asset that you have in one central location. It is indispensable in governing the correct and consistent use of brand assets.
Explore the Branding Series:
Employer Branding: What Do Great Brands Do Differently?
How to Build Brand Trust Through Social Media
Brand ROI: What Is It and How Can You Measure It?
Cognitive Dissonance in Branding: What Is it and Why Does it Matter?
Brand Value: What Is It and How Can You Measure It?
Tame The Chaos of Constant Output to Achieve Better Outcomes
Do you want to store all your brand guidelines and other elements in one place? Lytho helps you streamline your entire workflow and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!