Updated 6 months ago by Hayley Campbell
It goes without saying that the best brands are the ones that are true to form. No matter where you look, everything they do and say is “on-brand." But that isn’t a coincidence or a happy accident. It’s strategic. These businesses know that brand consistency is a game-changer.
Not only does brand consistency make it easier for people to recognize your company’s ads when they pop up between videos, but it also keeps your product at the forefront of your customers’ minds, increasing the likelihood that they’ll return to buy it again and again. Beyond that, maintaining a consistent identity inspires trust and builds rapport with customers, which strengthens your overall pricing power.
One of the best ways to see these benefits is by looking at brands that are successfully maintaining and, in some cases, increasing their brand consistency. So, let’s move past the generalities and dig into a few examples:
Brand recognition is perhaps the most obvious benefit to maintaining a consistent brand identity. After all, the more people recognize your brand, the more likely they are to buy from you. And the more consistent your branding is, the easier it is for busy, distracted customers to recognize your brand when they see it.
Take Nike for example. The majority of their branding is very simple. Often, when you come into contact with it, it’s merely their swoosh symbol on some athletic gear or their “Just do It” tagline set against a bold, confident backdrop. However, this is all it takes for most people to recognize the brand.
Why? Because Nike has used its logo and tagline as a central part of its branding. By consistently exposing customers to those brand elements in conjunction with inspirational language, performance gear, and bold designs, they’ve created an identity that people recognize, anywhere.
And they’re reaping incredible rewards for their efforts. Statista reports that Nike currently generates over $39 billion per year, and holds over 24% of the market share in the apparel, footwear and accessories industry. Today, they are also considered the world’s leading athletic apparel brand.
Another key benefit businesses gain from maintaining their brand consistency is awareness. The reason being: when a brand is consistent, it sticks in your memory. You remember it in certain context, and you associate it with specific problems and solutions.
Think about Google, for instance. Anytime you need to find an answer to a question, a recipe for a dessert you’re craving or the latest news on your favorite athlete or team, you “google it.” It’s almost like a reflex. But that isn’t because Google is the only search engine out there. It’s because, in your mind, Google has become synonymous with finding information. As a result, anytime you need to look something up, you automatically think of Google. That’s good brand awareness.
The same can be said of its cloud products like Gmail, Google Docs, or Google Calendar. For a lot of people, they’re considered the “go-to” solutions for email, online document collaboration, and personal calendars. But again, this isn’t because they’re the only solutions out there. In fact, there are dozens of alternatives to each platform. The reason they’ve become household names is because they fit seamlessly into Google’s brand, which is built around the idea of “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.”
So how is Google benefiting from this awareness? According to Statista, it holds 88% of the search engine market, with tens of thousands of searches being made on its server every second. Billions of people are loyal to its products---including Gmail and Maps – and, per the same study, Google raked in over $160 billion in revenue, in 2019.
The point of branding is to build strong brand equity. Not only does it boost the overall value of your brand in the eyes of your customers, but it also increases the amount of money they’re willing to pay for your products. This means you can command higher prices---thus increasing your profit margins---without worrying about losing business to a similar product with a lower price point.
However, there is a caveat. Brand equity isn’t automatic. It’s dependent upon the reputation and goodwill your business has with its customer base. And that reputation is built on the consistency of your brand. The reason being – the more consistent and “on-brand” your products, designs, and content are, the more high-quality your brand appears. On the flip side, the more your brand identity bounces around, the more generic and unimpressive it seems.
There are quite a few companies that have established good brand equity for themselves over the years, by maintaining a consistent brand identity. One of the easiest places to spot it is in a local grocery store. Down virtually every aisle, you’ll find nearly identical products sitting side-by-side, but being sold at significantly different prices. Why is that? Brand name. Certain companies can charge higher prices, because they’ve established a consistent brand identity that people love and are willing to pay for.
People appreciate and value brands that uphold their integrity – especially in the wake of new trends and social issues. This is because, as human beings, we’re comfortable with things that are familiar. Therefore, when we find something we like, that’s a constant in our lives, we become loyal to it.
Amazon has done really well at establishing a loyal customer base. By staying focused on its vision and prioritizing brand consistency on its site, in its packaging and designs, and across all of its advertisements, the online retailer has gained the trust and loyalty of over 100 million Amazon Prime customers. Beyond that, Statista reports that Amazon has become one of the most valuable brands in the world, generating over $280 billion in 2019 alone.
If you want to survive in an ever-evolving market, you need to be agile. You must be able to respond quickly to innovative technology and capitalize on trends as they come and go. This is much easier to do if you have a strong, consistent brand, because you can focus on integrating the trend into your brand, rather than doing gymnastics to make your brand fit the trend.
Disney has done this in an impressive manner, in the last few months. Being a traditionally film-based company, streaming services might be considered a complete 180 from its branding. However, the company didn’t veer off-brand when it launched Disney+ late in 2019. In fact, the move fell right in line with Disney’s mission to be “the world’s premier entertainment company”, by leveraging “storytelling”, “iconic brands”, and “innovative technologies.” In addition, the content produced on Disney+ has been perfectly aligned with Disney’s branding, as they’re either legacy films, recent movies from their new franchise acquisitions or spin-off shows that are closely linked to previous Disney films. The results? A successful launch, with 10 million users on the first day, and continued success months later, with over 20 million subscribers, today.
Honestly, it’s not easy to do. There are a lot of places you can go wrong. But with the right tools, guidelines and best practices in place, you'll have the framework to do it successfully. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get it done.
Before you can start working on things that affect your brand, you need to know what your brand is supposed to look, sound, and act like. This includes everything from its mission and vision statements to color schemes and patterns.
Sit down and map out your brand guidelines, including your style guide and your brand voice documents. Then, decide how this should take shape in all of your products and marketing collateral.
Once you've created your brand documents, you need to find a place to keep them. Ideally, this should be a centralized space where all of your brand guidelines can be organized and stored until they’re needed. It should also be a place that’s easily accessible by everyone in your organization, as this will minimize confusion.
Frontify is a great option for companies that are interested in having a secure space for their brand assets. Not only does it check all of the boxes with its centralized storage, but it also provides you with space to create new brand assets and collaborate on projects, helping you keep everything in one place.
With your core brand assets created and stored, it’s important to start educating your employees on using them. This will enable them to use your brand guidelines as they work on customer-facing projects.
Start by showing your departments and teams how to access and navigate your brand guide. Explain how it can be used to inform future projects. Then, help them understand its value to the bottom line of the company. The better they appreciate it, the more incentive they'll have to refer to it, regularly.
Now that you have your guidelines and best practices in place, take some time to review your current branding. Look for places where it may be off – where your tone doesn’t match the guidelines for your voice or where your design and visuals don’t match your style guide – and make note of it. It’s important that these things are corrected as quickly as possible, to maintain the integrity of your brand.
And remember to be thorough. Mistakes here are costly, because anything that affects the consistency of your brand, will also affect your bottom line.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Using the framework you’ve created, it’s time for your teams to start creating on-brand campaigns, content, designs, and products that will support your business goals and strengthen your brand consistency.
This is also the time to make adjustments to your brand. Old elements that are out of sync with your current branding should be updated or phased out. And ongoing elements that don’t quite mesh with your brand should either be course-corrected or replaced.
Brand consistency goes beyond your product packaging, taglines and logos, though. It extends into every facet of your marketing strategy. This includes your social media profiles, your video ads, email campaigns, podcasts, live chat, and content marketing.
That means you need to have guidelines in place for how your brand elements will be presented on each channel and in each campaign. Take the time to sit down and make a plan for everything you do, from what you share to when and how you share it. It will save you both time and money in the long-run.
Last but not least, don’t treat this like a one-and-done activity. Maintaining your brand consistency is an ongoing process that requires constant care and attention.
So, stay involved in the brand management process and set aside time periodically to check in on the consistency of your brand. If things are still working, continue doing them. And if not, remove and replace them.
Ultimately, maintaining brand consistency is one of the greatest things you can do for your business. Not only does it make a huge difference in terms of creating goodwill with customers, but it also heavily impacts your bottom line. By setting up a structure for managing and maintaining your brand consistency, you’ll have the tools you need to build a brand that people recognize, value, and love.