When it comes to building your brand, brand consistency is key. Think of some of the powerhouse brands out there and how brand consistency plays a role in their company. For instance, take Target. Target is aptly represented by red circles making a Target in a fun way. The vibe is playful. In all their commercials, the circle is happily active and translates a feeling of cheerfulness. You know it’s Target before you see the logo. At the store, the carts are red, and the employees are in red shirts. It’s comforting and it makes you feel like you know the brand, and thus, you trust it.
This level of consistency is maintained by an entire squad of people who must uphold and police the brand’s standards in every part of the business. It’s only possible when the whole team is involved, from the creatives who create the brand to the brand managers who manage it to the store managers who ensure that everything on a store-level consistently reflects the brand. In the industry, we call it “staying on brand,” but what does that really mean?
Usually, being “on brand” requires rules and brand guidelines. In any business, this affects every level of the company. And who isn’t a big fan of lengthy manuals? Most often, they don’t get read and consistency is sacrificed. But is there a better way?
There are three ways to maintain consistency: clearly define roles, stay true to the authentic voice of the brand, and select appropriate rhythms. Utilizing these three areas will give your brand a sturdy and dependable feel. This will help you maintain your current clients and help you attract new ones. Consistent, strong branding is the way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
When everyone knows their responsibilities and what is expected of them, better performance is all but guaranteed. Take the time to really ask yourself who does what in the company as it relates to your brand. Then, be sure to detail out all the responsibilities of each job, as well as the level of empowerment each person has.
Set up a hierarchy so the company knows who does what and who makes final approval to any changes in the brand. Key stakeholders would include roles such as decision-maker, ambassador, creative director, and designer, among others. Be sure to identify roles in all areas of your business so the brand is consistent no matter if it is client-facing, an advertisement, or an Instagram post.
Stay True to Your Voice
Sure, it’s tempting to give into trends; however, that sort of flip-flopping can be detrimental. Clients want to know they can trust you. By keeping the brand messaging consistent in tone and content, it gives them someplace to anchor. Now, that’s not to say you can’t refresh the brand from time-to-time, just be sure the voice reflects the mission statement and core capabilities of the brand.
Establish on-going rhythms for materials that routinely leave the office such as PowerPoint decks, emails, proposals, and one-sheets. For bigger marketing and branding initiatives, schedule quarterly reviews to discuss topics like re-launching a website, tradeshow preparations, or launching a new product or service. Annual Rhythms should be established to discuss any new strategic directions or to reaffirm the foundational brand strategy. By scheduling these rhythms, you ensure that branding is consistent across the board and in line with strategy.
It’s important to remember your brand is a living thing. It’s a holistic identity created by the sum of its parts, not just a standalone logo or tagline. The more you maintain consistency, the more clients will recognize you and bond with your brand.