How to Maintain Brand Consistency Throughout the Customer Journey
The importance of brand consistency is indisputable. Or is it?
Marketers, like myself, like to think that it’s obvious for everybody outside of the marketing bubble that great branding is essential and it doesn’t stop at choosing a name, logo, and color scheme for your business (to be forgotten at some point).
60% of millennial consumers expect consistent branding across all marketing channels and 91% of consumers would rather buy from an authentic brand - so it is, in fact, important to have a well-defined brand and to present its messages in a similar format all the way through from the first customer interaction to the purchase and beyond.
But let’s dig into the meaning and importance of maintaining brand consistency and how to do it with ease.
What is brand consistency?
Brand consistency is when a business (or even an individual) communicates in a way that always aligns with the company’s overall branding strategy that highlights its mission, vision, and values.
You can think of consistent branding like driving on a clear highway: straight, easy to navigate, and allows for same-speed cruise control. It’s not boring, but it is consistent. Inconsistent branding can feel like roadwork: speeding limit changes, traffic jams, and roadblocks that divert you off the highway, and on occasion, gets you lost.
You might also hear marketers and branding experts refer to consistency and inconsistency as on-brand and off-brand.
Why is brand consistency important?
The importance of brand consistency is sometimes overlooked, especially in smaller businesses where there are not enough resources to concentrate on this area. However, not taking brand consistency seriously can mean missing out on potential business. Consistent branding can increase revenue by up to 23% - here’s how it can drive more business:
Builds brand recognition
Consistently seeing similar designs and reading similar messages can extend your brand’s ethos and help become memorable and recognizable. For example, if I say, Red Bull, you will immediately remember the look of the can, the line drawing commercials, and the “Red Bull gives you wings” slogan.
Helps you stand out of the crowd
Your branding should be specific to your business and so differentiate you from others. When somebody fancies an energy drink, they will likely choose a brand that they can recall rather than some random fizzy-sugary never-heard-of-drink.
Triggers positive emotions
Going back to the highway simile, a clear road calms the driver and makes the ride enjoyable, while a highway full of roadblocks and hard-to-navigate sections only creates frustration. When a brand communicates clearly and in an always-similar manner, that triggers positive emotions.
Builds trust, loyalty, and word of mouth
81% of customers say they need to trust a brand to buy from them. When you try a new brand and you like it, you’ll remember to return to it. If you’re exposed to the same messaging, same design, same values, delightful customer service over and over again, you will start to spend money with the brand as it’s always been a positive and easy experience to interact with them. Trust and loyalty then can turn into advocacy and build word of mouth marketing.
Credibility, trust, and loyalty are especially important in B2B sectors. Successful branding for manufacturing companies is going to look a little different than SaaS, for example.
SaaS companies will focus most of their efforts on social media. Manufacturers are going to use face to face tactics. However, both will likely rely heavily on email marketing, as it has an incredible ROI regardless of industry.
5 tips to maintain brand consistency throughout the customer journey
By now you are (hopefully) convinced that brand consistency should not be overlooked. Building your own brand from scratch can be challenging but maintaining brand consistency throughout the customer journey can be an even bumpier ride.
The key to consistent messaging is that everybody in the business knows about your branding guidelines, understands, and adheres to them. Sharing branding knowledge is much easier than you would think - and the following framework will give you a structure to start with.
1. Develop a brand book
Having a nicely designed, short, and easy-to-read brand book is the first step you need to take. You can refer to this book when onboarding new joiners or explaining the brand values to stakeholders in other departments that are not particularly close to marketing.
The brand book can take a more holistic approach to guidelines, so rather than listing color codes, font types, logo concepts, etc., it should focus on top-level business attributes. The brand book should cover your business’ mission and vision statement, it’s essence, personality, served audiences, and clearly outlines the brand positioning.
Having these in writing will make the whole brand image more official, professional, and easier to grasp. After all, you can’t expect your teams to adhere to a brand image that they don’t fully understand.
2. Create branding guidelines and policies
Unlike the more abstract brand book, your branding guidelines and policies should be as specific as it gets.
You could develop design guidelines that include your brand’s colors with samples, HEX, and RGB codes. Font types, weights, styles are also important - not only for designers but everybody who creates documents. Capturing the tone of voice (ToV) of your brand will also help you communicate persistently with customers via your website, social media, blog articles, sales enablement content, and even when providing customer service.
One approach you could take is to outline rules for each common type of content in your business. For example, you could have guidelines that are mostly applicable to visual content like banners, posters, infographics, sales decks, etc. Then you could write ToV documentation for marketing material like blog articles and social media posts or customer service guidelines for responses and support material. If you create video content, you can specify background music options, intros & outros, and video transition styles.
These policies will make adhering to guidelines much easier and you can always improve them over time based on the feedback of your team.
3. Design easy-to-use templates
Guidelines are good but templates are better. Design and marketing templates can help maintain brand consistency as they make it easy for anybody in the business to create materials that are always on-brand.
The templates must be accessible: If your designer creates some great social media templates in Photoshop but nobody else in the business knows how to use that software, it’s as useful as a concrete parachute.
If your marketers are familiar with Canva, create templates there. If your salespeople put together sales decks in Google Slides, that’s where you’ll need to work. If customer service runs on Intercom, that’s where your canned responses need to be. You get the idea.
4. Schedule alignment meetings
Talking things through can add an extra layer of confidence in being able to stay on-brand. Some teams, like sales and marketing, tend to work quite close together. Sales and marketing alignment meetings can be rolled out to other teams too.
Short but regular meetings can give you the space to talk about your brand as part of the agenda, answer questions, or point out slip-offs.
The importance of regular catch-ups is as important as ever: remote teams need to schedule such interactions, otherwise, important activities like ensuring brand consistency can slip through the cracks.
5. Add a review step in your workflow
Quality assurance is in general important, and adding a review step in your workflow can improve the quality of any activity or project. If you only take one thing away from this article, this should probably be it.
Reviewing material will instantly improve the quality of work at your business, however, without the right culture and preparation steps, task reviews can seem somewhat tedious. But when you have developed a culture of delivery and teams work together to deliver high-quality work, reviews can put the cherry on top.
If you implemented all the tips above, reviewing the work of other teams can add an extra layer of reassurance that the whole customer journey will be consistent. What’s more, you will be able to gauge how well others managed to utilize the brand book and your guidelines, make use of the premade templates, and take away information from the alignment meetings. This information will help you iterate on your processes and identify what’s next to improve.
As a result of your hard work, your whole company will be much more likely to support maintaining brand consistency, which ultimately will lead to a smooth customer journey with familiar and positive experiences all the way through.