Why consistency is essential to your branding efforts
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All aspects of marketing thrive on a consistent, long-term approach, but neither does branding. Without consistent techniques and consistent effort, it is impossible to build a successful brand or business.
In some of my previous articles, I have discussed consistency and its importance for branding. Here is an overview of its importance.
Consistency creates trust
Credibility and trust are two of the cornerstones of successful brands. Most of the major global brands have built their reputation on these cornerstones. Building trust between a brand and a consumer doesn’t just take time. It also requires constant effort from the brand team.
Just as music producers create “one-of-a-kind wonders,” most brands can produce a unique and positive customer experience. Certainly, this first good impression means that the customer relationship is well launched. But that says little about the long-term relationship between the consumer and the brand.
In fact, the example is perhaps a little too simplistic. With very few exceptions, brands today operate in a crowded marketplace. Consumers are surrounded by marketing, advertising and branding messages. They are unlikely to make that initial purchase without having already established some sort of relationship with your brand. Therefore, a consistent brand message is important even before any purchase has taken place.
Related: If You Don’t Approach Your Brand This Way, You’re Losing Customers
Uncertainty leads to hesitation
The researchers found that predictability is essential for brand consistency. Simply put, consumers like to know what to expect from your brand. Consistent messaging, backed by a compatible brand experience, allows your audience to form an expectation about your brand.
The opposite of predictability is uncertainty. Psychologists define uncertainty like “not knowing what’s going to happen”. This lack of predictability makes difficult to plan for the future. In the case of a high-value purchase, uncertainty means that potential customers cannot be sure that buying from you is a good choice.
Most of us base our predictions for the future on past experiences. In the absence of previous purchases, your brand is the closest thing potential consumers have to weigh the risk associated with the purchase in question. If they perceive your brand as trustworthy and reliable, the likelihood of a purchase increases. Consistency is the path to that brand image.
Consider the opposite: Since the start of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has sown uncertainty around the world. Sometimes consumers found it impossible to decide if they could book a table at a restaurant, let alone book a vacation.
Over time, uncertainty makes humans stressed. Combined with fear, such as fear of infection over the past two years, uncertainty can cause anxiety.
What does this have to do with your brand? When it comes to planning a purchase, uncertainty may not lead to anxiety, but it does make potential customers hesitant. Without sufficient evidence that buying from your brand makes sense, they may simply wait or choose another brand.
Related: Branding Is More Than an Accessory: It’s the Foundation of Any Business
Making Consistency Work for You
Consistency is important in all aspects of marketing. Take content marketing, for example. Here, consistency begins with regularity. Blogging once a month is a good start. If you blog weekly, it’s worth selecting a specific day when sharing your content. This type of consistency creates predictability, which, in turn, creates trust.
In the context of branding, consistency starts with defining your brand values and mission. Both must align with business goals. Your brand messages flow from your values. The main purpose of your brand messaging is to communicate your values to your customers.
Brand messages should be consistent across all marketing channels. You may reach different audiences on social media as opposed to your email marketing, but your brand promise and purpose remain the same. The goal is to connect the audience with the brand and reassure the audience that they know what to expect from the brand.
Along with brand messages, your brand identity should also align with your message. All design elements should be used consistently and predictably. The easiest way to do this is to establish clear brand guidelines.
Related: Branding Is Essential. Are you using it to your advantage?
Consistency triggers positive emotions
Effective branding triggers an emotional response in your audience. To help consumers connect with your brand on an emotional level, they must first trust the brand. Consistency builds this bridge by increasing consumer knowledge about the brand.
Regular brand messages that create a consistent image help audiences understand what a company is about. Once consumers know your brand, they can start predicting your actions. If their expectations are met or even exceeded, consumers trust and connect with the brand. They feel safe enough to make a purchase based on what they know about the brand.
Customer service is a prime example. A brand that has built a reputation for exceptional customer service will find it easier to convince new customers to commit to a high-value purchase. Despite the lack of direct experience, consistent messaging across different channels created enough level of trust on the customer side to make the purchase.
So how is it possible that brands are still providing less than perfect customer service? The answer has to do with the value of the purchase and the risk associated with it. The lower the risk, the easier the buying decision.
Related: Consistency is King, Queen and All Aces in the Branding Game
Consistency and change
If consistency is so important to building trust, how can brands change? Naturally, brands must change and adapt as market forces change. Otherwise, they would quickly become useless.
Humans don’t necessarily resist change, especially if the change improves their lives. Communication is often the key to implementing change positively and maintaining brand credibility.
In some cases, changes to a brand may affect its identity but not the underlying values. In other cases, it is clear that a change in brand values is both positive and necessary. Climate change is an example. A few decades ago, few companies would have considered it important for them to take a stand on climate change. However, as awareness of the dangers of global warming increases, more and more consumers are basing their choices on criteria such as sustainability.
Therefore, brands need to change to continue to be seen as a force for good. Changes may be needed to maintain consistency.
All successful brands evolve. Brand evolution and consistent branding are not mutually exclusive if a brand is built on strong values. Consistency reinforces positive values and builds a strong foundation of trust and credibility from which a brand can continue to grow.