Posted on: June 25, 2022
There is one essential ingredient which, when ignored, can seriously undermine a brand.
Whether it’s the branding of a product, a service, an organisation or even the personal branding of an individual, this ingredient will affect that brand’s long-term impact and effectiveness.
This oh so vital ingredient is consistency.
Why this is a common challenge
Consistency is a real challenge to maintain over time. Staff in businesses come and go, and if brand guidelines aren’t in place, there aren’t a helpful set of rules to reference. Similarly organisations evolve and branch into new areas, even develop new values. Maintaining a standard look, feel and approach isn’t as easy as it sounds in our busy and changing world.
In theory it should be relatively simple to maintain the consistency of the look of your brand (‘that’s what brand guidelines are for’, I hear you say), but just consider how easy it is to maintain consistency in the feel of your brand.
This is much, much harder as it relates to the experience your brand gives, the values it represents and the messages it communicates.
Now these factors often rely heavily on human interaction to bring them to bear but, let’s face it, human interaction isn’t a great model of consistency. We may like to think we are consistent, objective and logical creatures but the truth of the matter is that we’re anything but. Customers and brand stakeholders change too in their behaviour.
The appeal of a consistent brand
Which is why people love brands which are consistent in delivering their promises. They reassure us and represent strength and security in a fast-changing and sometimes chaotic world.
And because we subconsciously know consistency is hard to deliver over time, when brands do send out confusing messages, or look different, or don’t deliver the experience we expect of them, we feel a sense of disappointment and quietly (or perhaps not so quietly) migrate towards their stronger rivals.
Without consistency brands crumble, with it they soar to great, great heights.
This was the topic of a recent panel at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, where the benefits of consistency were debated by leading marketers. Unilever’s UK and Ireland marketing director , Georgina Bradford, advised marketers not to be “afraid of consistency” and its “power” in advertising.
4 ways to create a consistent brand
So just how do you achieve the super-human and almost impossible feat of consistency when it comes to branding? Well, it does help if you can make your brand’s foundations simple – so they are easy to deliver and maintain, irrespective of who joins and leaves your team over the years, and how the world changes.
- Build your brand on a small number of values which are likely to stand the test of time and which give you a realistic chance of delivering them (not just this year but also across the next 5, 10, 20… years). Fundamental positive human values usually do well to stand the test of time.
- Similarly, opt for ‘less is more’ when it comes to the number of key messages your brand represents.
- Empower those managing the visual presentation of your brand to stand firm (irrespective of the time pressures, deadlines, explosion of different media proliferation etc) and ensure visually your brand’s look is consistent and good wherever it appears.
- Regularly evaluate how your brand is performing against those simple values and messages. The world will change and you and your team will need to find ways to ensure your brand weathers the journey well.
Can we help?
If you are looking to bring back consistency and strength to your brand, do get in touch.
This article first appeared in 2020 but has been updated to reflect current times.