As we approach the busy holiday season this year, we’re in a significant market downturn. A cost of living crisis, a falling pound, and an unstable government has led to reduced consumer spending. As shoppers become increasingly price-sensitive, brand consistency is critical to retaining customer loyalty. But why is this the case?
Brand consistency ensures that every touchpoint between a brand and its customers reinforces its market position. It is proven that organizations with big brands have greater market share, lower price sensitivity, and heightened brand loyalty. All of these factors make building a brand highly valuable.
However, organizations must build this position in the mind of the customer through consistent communication over an extended period of time to reap these benefits.
In this article, we’ll explore the tangible benefits of building a brand, the common challenges that marketers face and the strategies marketers can use to be successful.
Branding is more than the organization’s visual identity. Indeed, Marketing Week identifies 4 key benefits of a successful brand. For now, we’ll focus on 2:
A hot-button topic at the moment, with Marketing leaders including Byron Sharp, Binet and Field, and Mark Ritson highlighting research about the most effective forms of advertising.
While there are minor differences of opinion, the overall conclusion is that long-form advertising (brand building) will increase long and short-term sales.
Most category buyers are not in-market to buy at any one time. Therefore, by using short-term marketing activation campaigns, brands will miss the majority of the market.
Indeed, research shows that brand building will positively influence the ROI for activation campaigns over time and yield short-term sales increases too.
Organizations that have established their brand over time can therefore invest less in short-term advertising to activate sales as an organization will have minimal brand recognition.
Improved pricing power is one of the biggest aspects we openly recognise as consumers. We regularly cite the markup that premium brands like Apple, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex place on their products.
Creating a brand that’s synonymous with a premium status class can elevate the value of a product and link it with a person’s self-worth, thereby increasing the price ceiling for a product.
However, even brands such as Robinson’s in the soft beverages category leverage their brand to increase their pricing power. By communicating a sense of trust, family values and product quality that’s been established over an extended period, they maintain positive sales in a highly price-competitive market.
There’s a game I often play when watching TV, which is sort of fun if you’re a bit of a marketing geek like I am. When the ads come on, see if you can guess the brand that’s running the ad within the first 5 seconds.
If an advert run by a brand I recognise fails this test, then the ad has failed.
9 times out of 10, we can recognise which brand has created an advert from the first few seconds without them including their logo or mentioning their name. This is built up through years of brand consistency at every touch point. It runs throughout their visual identity, tone of voice and buying experience to make them recognisable.
So when brands stray from their established brand identity, it can be surprising. Even when promoting a new product or service, they will typically maintain their core communication principles.
It doesn’t mean the brand is stale and boring, it means they have a distinctive way of doing things.
Brand consistency is important because of how long these associations are established over a prolonged period of time and the plethora of advertising that consumers are exposed to. According to The New York Times, consumers are exposed to up to 5000 adverts daily. So, to build those associations between visual identity and our positioning, we need to deliver the same message consistently over months, years and decades.
As our brands grow, we add new channels, employ new custodians to manage our brand, and engage different cultures in new markets. Needless to say, maintaining brand consistency is a significant challenge.
Here are some of the challenges you will encounter:
Every channel has its own design requirements. Whether you are using Email, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Out of Home or TikTok, every piece of communication must fit different design specifications and appear native to the audience on that channel.
While you may have one core campaign, message or idea, every channel requires its own design or copy that suits the format to be most effective. Distributing your communications through new channels can raise questions over how your brand will appear in those channels while appearing native but staying recognizable as your brand.
It is not only advertising channels you need to consider. It’s also critical that your brand values run through your customer service channels, physical retail locations, and product experience. Your customers will continually form their opinion of your brand through every interaction, even the ones marketing doesn’t fully own.
If you have only ever deployed digital marketing campaigns, you can be safe knowing that you can monitor exactly where, when and how your ads were shown.
However, with offline campaigns, you must put your faith in partners to print, distribute and install your campaign. It will be almost impossible to monitor brand consistency on a large scale, which means that you lose control over how your brand is portrayed.
If one advert is implemented incorrectly, it can cause a negative result in that area and be a detriment to your campaign. Additionally, while the advert may look fine initially if your campaign lasts for weeks, it may be susceptible to wear and tear.
As your company grows and you add new people to your organisation, more people will represent your brand. It’s critical that each person upholds your brand values when creating your marketing, engaging with customers or developing products.
However, with such large organisations and workforce, especially in retail, this is a significant undertaking across the business. Great brands get this right, but so many get this wrong in favour of reducing internal costs.
A negative customer experience now leads to negative reviews online, which can have a significant impact on sales.
Most marketers are creative at heart. We want different, new and exciting.
However, it can take 6 months or longer before your audience recognises your messaging. Therefore, establishing your position and your brand requires a lot of reworking the same message in new ways. Consistently executing the right message in the right way.
Diverging too much from the core message will dilute the brand and confuse your audience. One off-post on social media won’t cause an issue, but if it gets out of control, you’ll have a meaningless brand.
While it can be complex, there are numerous tools we regularly use to ensure brand consistency throughout the customer journey.
As marketing needs to interact with and guide teams across multiple departments, it’s critical they hold a strategic position within the business.
Elevate them from being a support function or “the colouring-in department” to playing a critical role in delivering standard operating procedures that ensure consistent and appropriate customer interactions throughout the organization.
Employer brand values must form the organization’s culture, including ensuring that employees have the right attitude to work and deliver the intended customer experience.
Creating a clear set of rules is the first step to establishing brand consistency. Brand guidelines set out your organisation’s core message, values, visual identity and tone of voice.
They will outline how you behave in your marketing and outward communications to ensure your marketing and advertising is consistent.
Your brand guidelines should outline and stress the importance of the following:
Depending on your organisation, you might also set out store layout & merchandising guides; channel-specific guidelines; telephone support scripts, or any other customer interaction guides.
When operating campaigns across multiple channels, it’s critical to deploy cross-channel campaign management tools and techniques.
A head of marketing should oversee all marketing channels and plan campaigns effectively. Equip them with cross-channel management software tools that will provide an overview of all marketing functions.
This will allow channel managers to optimise their campaigns for each channel while allowing the head of marketing to maintain the visibility of campaign assets and approve artwork before it goes live.
When deploying physical marketing assets or working with team members, maintaining constant communication is key.
You may outline the guidelines and provide the tools to succeed, but questions will always arise, and mistakes will be made. It’s critical all parties can communicate efficiently to resolve issues.
Emails won’t cut it. However, many project management, campaign management and workforce management tools can provide the solution.
Ultimately, brand consistency is critical to both long and short-term success. It builds relationships with customers based on trust. I’m sure we’ve all had interactions with brands that have left us seething and erupting in an online review!
Colateral equips marketers with the tools to accurately plan and manage online and offline marketing campaigns. The integrated artwork approval ensures teams can easily review materials before they are delivered. Meanwhile, it provides a clear 2-way communication for teams to report back with any issues during implementation.
To find out if Colateral could help you achieve brand consistency throughout your marketing, arrange a call with one of our team.
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