Identity. If it’s a fundamental starting point for the average consumer than it’s positively critical for a brand. It doesn’t just dictate the presentation of a brand. It defines its very survival.
Exclusivity and brand consistency aren’t merely confined to brand logos and copyright trademarks. It summarizes everything a brand embodies. Where would McDonald’s be without their fabled golden arches? Could you conceive of the phrase “Just Do It” applied to a TV network? The world of marketing is teeming with a wealth of recognizable images and slogans, all vying for an assertion in the consumer landscape. And if you think this only applies to traditional media, ask yourself just why that cartoon bluebird will be forever equated with 140-character tweets from celebrities. Brand consistency runs deeper than the product.
And every company with a stake in the marketplace, from home office based startups to Fortune 100 entities, will do anything in their power to maintain it.
But maintaining brand consistency isn’t merely a question of unified marketing efforts. It takes time to build up a customer base. And brand identity can only be as strong as your customer base. It’s what trust is built on.
Maybe you don’t have an advertising budget spanning millions of dollars. But you can still practice brand consistency if you want to see your company grow. Here are three of the most important reasons why.
Every company wants to ensure their brand is identifiable, clear and unambiguous. Merely having both a physical and digital presence is no longer enough. Your efforts tell a story about your brand, and to ensure that narrative is easily understood, you can’t rely on scattered advertising campaigns and empty slogans.
Is your brand story innovative? Nostalgic? Quirky? Sincere? Sexy? All of these can be selling points, no matter how contradictory they seem. But in order to speak to the hearts and minds of your customers, they need to remain consistent. It’s next to impossible to think of Wal-Mart as anything other than an affordable and family-friendly shopping experience. And to present Starbucks as a nostalgic brand harkening back to the days of youthful folly (never mind the fact that Starbucks is a nostalgic brand for many consumers in their 30s!) would derail the decades of careful planning they’ve developed to become the world’s second largest restaurant brand.
A unified voice gives both clarity and credibility to your brand. Don’t neglect it in favor of trends.
We all have preferred companies. Brands we grew up on. Relied upon. Brands that are as much a part of the fabric of our lives as our friends and family. Brands that in some cases are passed on through generations.
This isn’t simply about building customer loyalty. This is about building an institution. And one that’s larger than you or any executive team. Dependability implies authority—and no company likes to be thought of as amateur. Consistency permeates every level of a brand, be it social media presence, packaging or testimonials. Without coherence, you’re not only likely to confuse potential customers; you’ll alienate existing ones, as well.
It’s been estimated that small businesses employ over 47 percent of the national workforce in the U.S. At the same time, the survival rates of small businesses has been particularly grim. Over 400,000 startup companies fail each year, as much due to a highly competitive marketplace as an overconfident investment. And with a disproportionate signal to noise ratio in marketing efforts for small businesses, you need every tool to help bring your brand or service into public focus.
Social media may have enabled small businesses to maintain an inexpensive and efficient digital platform for marketing, but it’s also pushed the boundaries for sleeker, more dynamic and more innovative promotional methods. Half a million followers means very little if all but a few hundred are actively engaging with your company. In order to function with a clear cut vision, you need to develop a coherent voice. One which can cut a wide swath through the noise and static of today’s digital melting pot. If your brand story is defined by clear objectives, you need every tool at your disposal to ensure it can be heard. Otherwise, your business will be nothing more than one of the countless numbers of digital casualties. Recognition means longevity. And longevity for any company defines the true success of a business.
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