Inconsistent branding can damage your ROI

More than a logo

There’s a common misapprehension amongst non-marketers that a brand is just the logo, the visual representation by which people can recognise a business. But there is so much more to a brand than the visuals. There are compelling reasons why successful companies maintain consistency with all the elements all the time.

Brand consistency can help increase revenues by up to 33%*

Before looking in more detail at the reasons why consistency is so critical, it’s worthwhile to understand what constitutes a brand. Think of some of the successful companies we all know; McDonald’s, Sky, Nespresso or Apple – each one of them evokes an expectation of the level of service and quality of product they sell but, they also engender a feeling, a mood that keeps customers coming back time and again helping to increase revenues.

Trust is everything

The brand identities of successful organisations like those above become embedded in the customer’s consciousness. Customers instinctively know what the businesses mission, values and tone of voice will be at every touchpoint. In short, customers know they can trust the company, which is reinforced through repeated, consistent brand recognition.

Stand out

Which, isn’t to downplay the importance of visual recognition especially for smaller companies and those building their brand. A striking logo – like all of the businesses mentioned above – alongside a recognisable colour palette, image style and font family is crucial to establishing and maintaining a brand identity. After all, the logo is very probably the first element of a brand that a potential customer will encounter.

What do we mean by consistency?

Imagine that you’ve spent months developing a great logo, you know what fonts you’ll be using online, on the website and in print. You have a colour palette that relates to your products, and it’s rolled out successfully drawing compliments from customers and a significant uplift in enquiries.

Your buy-in from senior management and the marketing team has been successful, yet you can’t get consistency. Within weeks you start to see the old logo appear on documents, parts of the website have the wrong font and email signatures are all over the place.

What message does that send to customers, what effects will it have, and why would it happen?

The last question is easy. It’s your fault! Why, because you haven’t rolled out brand guidelines to the whole business and communicated why brand consistency is vital. It’s easy to forget that every department, every person in the company interacts with customers, suppliers or partners.

We’ve all been in a situation where we’re asked to supply a logo for a partner presentation or document and without thinking, just send the first jpeg from our computer. It could be the bookkeeper or IT manager who without thinking dash it off. But before you can stop it, that old logo has been reproduced on other documents associated with the presentation. And worse it was lo-resolution, the colour is wrong, and it is badly cropped – it looks rubbish and undermines all your hard work.

Employees who are unfamiliar with brand guidelines can quickly degrade the brand by using it inconsistently.

Turn your employees into Brand Champions

Conversely, your employees can be your most crucial brand champions when they are fully on board. So to prevent sloppy use of brand assets get everyone to buy-in.

• Roll out your brand identity to all employees – remember to include new employees as they onboard
• Set usage guidelines with a simple Brand Guidelines document, accessible to the whole company
• Get employee buy-in by training them in the use of the identity
• Establish a central source of brand assets in a shared drive
• Think beyond your website

Engender trust don’t undermine it

The effect of inconsistency is that you undermine trust in your brand by confusing or putting doubt in your customer’s minds. If you can’t even get the use of your logo right, what else might you get wrong? Inconsistency means throwing away competitive advantage and in an environment where any edge is hard-won throwing it away is just foolish.

But if you can get it right, you can lead the market. Connecting with your customers at every opportunity both with messages that always align and a uniform visual look, allowing customers to be comfortable and wanting to do business with you. All the best brands are about repetition. They establish regular patterns in people’s brains, creating a comfort zone, making it an easier decision to do business with them.

Customers will connect with brands that feel authentic to them. Still, it’s hard to connect with a brand that doesn’t have a consistent appearance across all media. On the positive side, if you are consistent, the effects are significant.

All branding agencies will tell you that consistency is integral to building relationships and earning trust with current and future customers. But recent research has shown that it significantly elevates ROI too. According to Lucid Press* brand consistency can help increase revenues by up to 33%.

I would argue that your brand is your most valuable asset. It is an integrity filter from which customers evaluate whether or not you are worthy of doing business.

How to stay consistent

Larger companies have marketing teams charged with managing their brands and ensuring inconsistency doesn’t creep in. But for smaller businesses, it can be incredibly difficult. How do you keep the part-time bookkeeper from sending the wrong logo?

The company-wide buy-in, guidelines and asset bank are essential, but who within a small team has the time to monitor and feedback brand performance? Who can be a proactive brand manager?

Every SME struggles with brand consistency, but given the importance to the bottom line, how can you afford to ignore efficient brand management?

This is an area I’ve given a great deal of thought to after researching my clients and taking on feedback from numerous businesses. I’m aware that SME’s don’t have the internal resources to be consistent at brand consistency.

Which is why Breathe are launching our Team+ Brand Management Service. Designed to ensure businesses can deliver impactful but consistent communications that resonate with target customers. And, to provide ongoing brand management support to make sure brands consistently perform at a high level in the long term.

I’m always interested in helping businesses to maximise the impact of their brands. Team+ will ensure that business owners can monitor the effectiveness and consistency of their brand and ensure that their brand delivers maximum return on investment.

For more information visit https://www.breathe4u.com/team-plus/ or email info@breathe4u.com

*Lucidpress surveyed over 200 brand management experts to ascertain the analytical impact of brand consistency