When starting a business, people often get caught up on what they believe are the most important parts of a brand. They obsess over the name, colors, and logo for their business, spending time and money making multiple logo iterations. But, they typically miss the fact that there is a lot more to branding than the visual assets. Focusing on the core elements of a brand — and how consumers perceive your brand — will ensure brand consistency even if you choose to change your colors or logo down the road.
Brand consistency can be hard to establish, but it’s important to focus on it from the get-go. If not, you could have to start over from scratch and lose the momentum you’ve gained in the meantime. In order to create brand consistency, you need to determine what matters to your business and the feelings you want to invoke in your customers. Find a few key emotional elements to establish as the base of your brand, then build off of them over time.
Benefits of a Consistent Brand
A large part of marketing is about building a brand that everyone can recognize, but why does brand consistency matter so much? Below are some of the top benefits of having a consistent brand.
Consumers Recognize Your Brand
One of the main reasons you should build a brand in the first place is so that consumers can recognize your business. Ultimately, you want your customers to see one of your ads and immediately know it’s from your business, even if your logo or business name is nowhere to be found. When consumers are at this point, it means that they truly know your brand.
When people recognize your brand on their social media feeds or billboards around the city, they are more likely to think of your brand when they are ready to make a purchase. For this reason, your brand should be consistent across all marketing channels — traditional and digital. Your brand should also tie into your product/service experience.
When branding is done right, consumers feel certain emotions when seeing your brand. For example, if you have an adventurous brand, consumers should be inspired to run up the closest mountain upon seeing your ad. If your brand is more nostalgic, certain happy memories should be triggered by your brand.
A consistent brand also includes customer experiences. Consumers who interact with your brand should see your brand values in action when they make a purchase, and they should be able to recall those values when they see your logo. When you are recognizable to your customers, it sets you apart from the competition.
Ultimately, you want your customers to see one of your ads and immediately know it’s from your business, even if your logo or business name is nowhere to be found.
Consumers Trust Your Brand
People stick with brands because the brands are predictable. Even if the consumers know they aren’t getting the best service, there is comfort in knowing exactly what to expect. Humans feel better about a company when they can anticipate its next moves.
When it comes to brand consistency, predictability is critical. Consistency makes consumers trust your brand, and that consistency leads to more positive feelings toward your brand. Consumers should know what to expect and what the outcome will be. If they feel like your brand is constantly changing, they will be confused and assume that they can’t trust your business. They will start thinking that your business and its values could change at any moment.
When it comes to brand consistency, predictability is critical.
Consumers Feel Connected to Your Brand
When consumers start to recognize your brand and anticipate the actions your brand will take, they can start connecting with your brand on an emotional level. This can lead to them feeling like they personally know your business.
When your customers know your brand, it is easier for them to identify with your mission and values. That connection will increase the chances of them purchasing one of your products or services, or recommending your business to others. In fact, 64% of consumers say that having shared values is one of the top reasons they trust a brand.
You want your business to trigger certain positive emotions in your target audience. Those emotions can then be evoked when the consumer sees your brand’s logo or hears your brand’s name. Consumers that feel connected to you and your mission are more likely to be loyal to your business.
You Can Shape Customer Perception
Controlling brand consistency also means that a business has control over how people perceive their brand. Customer perception is all about how a customer feels when they think about a brand. Brand consistency allows businesses to mold that perception into a clear and concise message that is positive.
Businesses can embrace that consistency throughout the buyer journey. Marketing messages that build off of each other are stronger because they are able to tell a story. Plus, when there is an unspoken customer perception that is understood by everyone in the room, an ad has to say less to convey a message.
Tips for Creating a Consistent Brand as a Startup
Creating a consistent brand might seem straightforward, but it can be difficult to put into practice. A lack of consistency means that every consumer will have a different perception of your brand. Consumers form opinions about brands every time they interact with them. If your brand’s messaging is inconsistent, your business will come across as inauthentic.
Below are some tips to keep in mind when establishing a consistent brand.
Don’t Stress About Visual Assets
It’s normal for us to focus on a brand’s visual assets. They are tangible, and they are easy to create. But, the emotional elements of your brand, including your brand’s voice and personality, can define far more about your brand. How does your brand treat people? What do you want people to think of when they imagine your business? Answer those questions before getting caught up on the visual assets. Your outward appearance might change, but your core identity should remain.
Choose Values That Are Important to You
It will be harder to sell someone on your brand if you don’t even stand for the values the business is promoting. Look at the strengths within your business and build off of them. Focus on the core message of your brand and the promises you are making to consumers. Those are what will guide your brand.
Look at the strengths within your business and build off of them.
Establish Brand Guidelines
Use a brand style guide or branding deck to define who you are and what your business stands for. This is a good time to list the mission, vision and values of your business, as well as your target audience and brand voice. You should also include visual elements, including your brand’s logo, colors, and fonts.
One good idea is to create a shared folder with these visual assets. That way, any employee can access the assets when needed. The instructions for how to use — or not use — the visual elements should also be included.
Write and Share Content that Fits Your Brand
Use social media platforms to establish brand consistency. All of the videos, images and words you post or share should fit your brand voice. With social media, you can interact with your audience and tell your own story. Be strategic about how you come across on all social media platforms.
The same strategy goes for all the comments you leave on other people’s posts, as well as your responses to comments and reviews on your page. The best way to maintain consistency is to think of your brand as a person. Explicitly define their characteristics and personality traits, and then communicate how you imagine they would communicate.
Building a brand as a startup can be intimidating. There are so many ways you can brand your business, and you want to get it right. But, remember that you don’t have to solidify you brand right away. It’s ok to modify your brand as you hone your messaging. Being consistent doesn’t mean that your brand can’t evolve. You can adapt it over time as long as you stick to your core values.