Consistently using the same message and visuals in all your marketing materials is a powerful way to shorten the amount of time it takes for audiences to recognize your brand and associate you with a solution. On the other hand, if you keep switching it up, your audience will not have an image to associate your business with.
A prospect needs to "hear" an advertiser's message at least seven times before they'll take action. (Hubspot)
Taking stock of your marketing materials and other brand assets can help you determine if they embody your brand's image or contradict it. This will go a long way to enhance consistency and save you time and money on your marketing efforts.
Why is Consistency Important?
When people interact with you, your team, or your content, they subconsciously form an opinion of who you are. They use the cues and information you give them (or don't!) to determine what your business stands for and whether or not they can trust you to solve their problem. Consistent communication and action build trust by reinforcing what your current clients already know and love about you. It also helps new audiences remember who you are, so when the time is right – you're top of mind.
Inconsistent or even lax use of brand assets happens to the best of us. That's why it's a good idea to evaluate your customer touchpoints periodically. Here are some key areas to focus on. Don't forget to include the rest of your team, so you're all on the same page.
1. Create Consistent Visuals
From photography and graphics to your logo's shapes and color, your brand's visual elements tell a story without saying a word. Using similarly styled design elements helps your audience recognize your brand amongst the competition. On the other hand, changing your business's visual aspects too often makes it more challenging, if not impossible, for them to remember you when the need arises.
Tightening up your visual game isn't hard, but it does take discipline. If the thought of sticking to the same 'look-and-feel' sounds boring, think of how efficient you'll be not having to reinvent the wheel each time!
Use the Same Logo – Everywhere
Unless you find that your logo is no longer supporting your brand story, you should use the same logo for as long as possible. And please don't squish or stretch your logo! Many designers will provide alternate versions of the logo to ensure you have a polished brandmark for whatever screen size or layout your using. Additionally, when creating your logo, ensure that it carries your brand colors. This brings me to my next point…
Define Your Brand Colors and Stick to Them
Think about any well-known brand, and you will notice a specific color (or set of colors) that you associate the brand with. Which color, for example, comes to your mind when you think about UPS? Brown, of course! The reason you remember it is because they've integrated it into every part of the business.
When choosing colors, take the time to understand what the colors represent and what effect they have on buyers. For instance, green is associated with growth, freshness, and health, orange with happiness, and yellow with hope. The fewer colors, the better! I suggest two primary colors and three secondary (complimentary) colors.
After you've selected the perfect palette, make sure it's included in all your marketing and non-marketing materials.
Use Consistent Typography
Typography is part of your style and should be consistent across all the elements of your business. When choosing your fonts, be aware that they have personalities, too. And similar to stock photos, many fonts require licenses – especially for commercial use. If you don't want to pay for fonts, stick to those released under open-source licenses, like Google Fonts.
81% of consumers say they need to be able to trust a brand to buy from them. (Edelman 2019)
2. Tell a Consistent Brand Story
Your brand story brings the human touch to your business. What inspires you to do what you do? What has been your journey? What is it about you that others can relate to?
When you first told your brand story, people started associating your business with a specific set of behavioral patterns and emotions. If you keep changing the events or even the motivation behind what you do, people can lose trust in you. A doctor who sometimes says that the heart is on the right side and the liver on the left cannot be trusted, can they?
When formulating a brand story, be sure that you have your audience in mind. Touch on their pain points, their values, and their culture. Doing so will help you attract the right conversations and connect with those most likely to do business with you.
Use a Consistent Voice
Let your audience hear your voice in all your communications – even if it's only a one-sentence share on LinkedIn. For example, if you are a lawyer, let your voice show command and confidence when discussing law matters. If you're in a creative industry, use colorful or symbolic language.
Your voice also expands to your values and where the business stands on particular issues. If your company stands for keeping the environment clean, then it should be clear.
3. Define Your Brand Strategy
Simply put, a brand strategy is a plan. What are you planning to do to ensure that all your actions communicate your brand identity? Besides outlining your competitive position, core values, and unique differentiators, a good strategy should include messaging and creative guidelines. Remember, it's not enough to simply have brand guidelines – they must be enforced.
Give Your Brand Strategy Time to Work
Building a brand does not happen in one day, one week, or one month. A brand can take years to build, so give your strategy time to work.
The danger with worrying too soon that your brand strategy is not working is that you might be tempted to change your brand image too often. Fretting will have you changing the brand colors this month and changing the logo the next.
Too many changes can hike your marketing budget and can kill your marketing efforts.
Here is a Final Tip
Brand consistency is not something that you can point at and say, "I have achieved enough brand consistency; now let me focus on other things." This is an ongoing effort that everyone plays a role in. As a marketing department or business owner, you should ensure that all your team members know what the business stands for and how their actions affect the business image.
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