For many companies, brand consistency is a secondary concern, coming into play only after the more pressing matters of revenue, growth, and traffic numbers are addressed. After all, if a marketing campaign or sales tactic is making money, why should it matter whether or not it’s on-brand?
The simple answer is: because brands build loyalty.
Considering that 70% of customers will spend twice as much on brands they’re emotionally connected to and 82% of customers choose the brands they connect with over those they don’t, a strong brand can boost your bottom line.
But building that kind of brand loyalty isn’t easy. On average, it takes about seven impressions to begin building brand awareness. If you’re looking to make the leap from awareness to loyalty, you need to invest in brand consistency.
The more consistent your brand is, the more easily your customers can recognize and choose it. So, if you’re looking to build loyalty, it’s worth running through a branding checklist anytime you begin building new sales or marketing materials—to ensure they create the kind of connection that keeps customers coming back.
What does brand consistency mean?
When most brands delve into the world of brand consistency, they do so using brand guidelines. These guidelines focus mostly on the visual representation of your brand—things like logos, fonts, colors, spacing, and placement. While these guidelines are helpful for ensuring your brand is visually consistent, they don’t address your entire brand.
Your brand is more than just your logo, fonts, symbols, and colors. So, brand consistency needs to cover more than just your visual brand.
At its core your brand is the collection of feelings, memories, stories, and associations that customers have for your company. As such, brand consistency needs to cover everything that contributes to those stories. This all-encompassing definition can mean a lot of things. To get a better understanding of how you can incorporate your brand into your sales and marketing efforts, let’s jump into the first section in our branding checklist.
Generating on-brand ideas
So you think you have a great idea for your next sales or marketing project. Before you start executing, you need to evaluate that idea against your brand. What might be a great idea for another brand, might not work for your brand. Depending on where you look for inspiration, you’ll have to consider different aspects of your brand as you evaluate your ideas.
What’s worked in the past
Turning to the past for ideas lets you build on your previous successes, but you should do so carefully. When pulling ideas from the past, be sure to evaluate them against your current brand strategy. If your brand positioning or target customers have changed since you last used this idea, it may no longer be a fit.
What’s working for competitors
Looking to your competitors for inspiration can help you keep up with industry standards and customer expectations—but blindly copying their ideas will cost you. Consider your brand’s competitive differentiators, and whether adopting your competitors’ ideas will support or undermine them. For instance, if your competitors regularly release product update announcements to engage their users, but you haven’t updated your product in two years, trying to do the same won’t do you any favors.
Taking inspiration from trends outside of your industry can boost your company’s relevancy, while also expanding your audience. If you’re looking to gain new customers by jumping on a new trend, you’ll need to consider whether this trend will reach your customers and if it supports your brand’s positioning. Even if you’re only looking to generate awareness, not every trending keyword, hashtag, or video format is going to work for your brand. Before you adopt a trendy idea, consider whether it suits your brand’s personality traits. A more playful brand might be able to get away with doing the latest TikTok dance, but a more conservative brand would likely look out of place.
What customers want
Sometimes you look for inspiration. Sometimes inspiration finds you. Your customers can be a great source of ideas—and they’re usually eager to share them. But just because one customer thinks something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your brand. For customer-sourced ideas, consult your brand’s customer personas. You only want to take ideas from the kind of customer you’re looking to gain more of. Otherwise, you might be investing in an idea that will attract the wrong crowd.
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Finding the right medium and method
Once you have your ideas nailed down, you’ll need to start getting into the details. How are you going to bring this idea to life? For this stage in our branding checklist, you’ll need to consider your brand’s beliefs and values.
If you’re looking to make your brand’s values and beliefs, well, believable, actions speak louder than words. For customers to buy into your brand’s beliefs and values, they need to see them in action in the mediums and methods you use. For instance, a web design agency might value beautiful design, so they’ll want to choose highly visual mediums with detailed designed elements to translate their ideas. Similarly, if a company preaches environmental responsibility in their beliefs and values, any events they host should only use recyclable, low carbon footprint materials.
To see companies bringing their belief and values to life in their marketing mediums and structure, look at Spotify’s values of innovation, collaboration, and playfulness, which are evident in the way it leverages user data to tell a cheeky customer story. Or look at cosmetics company Glossier’s values of inclusion and customer-centrism, showcased in the company’s experiential retail locations—which put customers in the spotlight. By putting their money where their mouth is in the mediums and methods their company uses, these brands build a sense of authenticity around the beliefs and values they preach.
Building brand into the creation process
Alright, so we’ve covered how your brand comes into play when generating ideas and choosing the right medium and method for execution, now it’s time to create your next sales or marketing effort.
At this point in the branding checklist, we reach the kind of brand consistency considerations most of us are familiar with. When you’re creating something, there are two main aspects of your brand that will come into consideration: how it looks and how it sounds. The verbal and visual components of your brand are usually contained within your brand identity, which includes things like your logo, fonts, colors, imagery, voice, and messages.
Verbal brand consistency doesn’t just mean repeating your slogan over and over again. It means creating copy that carries your brand voice. While your company likely won’t have the same writer working on every sales and marketing project, your customers shouldn’t be able to tell. Check that your writing has the same grammar, formality, personality, vocabulary, and pace as your other sales and marketing materials. A consistent brand voice ensures the customer experience flows like a conversation—as it progresses from digital ad, to sales deck, to onboarding emails.
As for your visual brand consistency, repetition is your friend. Keeping your brand’s logo, colors, fonts, imagery, and symbols completely consistent across all company materials builds at-a-glance brand recognition. But it takes time. A lot of companies run into an issue here, in that they get bored of staring at nearly identical designs. While you may get tired of seeing your brand’s logo all over everything you make, your customers are likely only just starting to recognize it.
Finding where your brand belongs
So, you've come up with your idea, found the right structure for it, and created it, the branding checklist is done now, right? Wrong.
Finding the right distribution method requires just as much brand consideration as all the steps that came before. At its core, brand consistency is designed to create connections with your customers. If you’re not reaching those customers on the distribution side, all that effort is going to waste.
For this step in the process, the most important component of your brand to consider is your customer personas. Who are they? What do they want? Where can you find them? And, perhaps most importantly, where will they be most receptive to your presence?
To find the distribution methods that meet that last requirement, consider your brand’s context. If you interact with customers in a business context, reaching them on a typically personal channel might be unnerving (and unwelcome). If your competitors are all using a certain channel, your presence might get lost in the mix. If your brand partners have a large distribution network, you might consider leveraging that. The right distribution method will put your brand in front of customers—without putting them off.
After checking off the branding checklist
Now that you’ve done the work to integrate your brand into your next sales and marketing project, it’s time for the hard part. Waiting. Building a strong brand takes time—and consistency—but by putting in the work to create a cohesive brand experience for customers, you’ll slowly start to build the kind of loyalty that will grow your business for years to come.
About the author
Christine Glossop is a writer for Looka—an AI-powered logo maker that provides business owners with a quick and affordable way to create a beautiful brand—where she focuses on branding-related content.