What is Brand Consistency? Brand Consistency Examples and Importance.
October 26, 2021
updated February 28, 2023
Generally speaking, consistency means keeping something at the same level or in the same form for a prolonged period of time. As it stands, it’s a widely used term, for both practical and theoretical matters – and that’s why it can also be applied to brands.
Brand consistency meaning, at its core, is the process of exposing your target audience to your company’s ideals, branding, color scheme, slogans, etc. – and the “consistency” part means that you’re supposed to do it repeatedly, with no drastic changes in the process.
As such, it is easy to see how brand consistency and brand recognition are important for any business, big or small. Now it is time to go more in-depth about this topic.
The goal of brand consistency
The main purpose of brand consistency as a process is for the details of your brand to become easily recognizable for your audience, no matter what is the marketing channel that is used to connect with them. That being said, visual elements of your brand are not the only ones that can be attributed to brand consistency and ingrained into your clients.
The importance of brand consistency is not only attributed to visual elements – there are two more areas that you have to keep in mind when it comes to your branding: your values and your customer experience. Your company’s core values are represented by the brand backing up its claims with actions on the subject. At the same time, consistent customer experience is also extremely valuable, especially when it comes to brands that provide services and don’t sell products.
How brand consistency can benefit you and your company
The biggest possible benefit of brand consistency has to be general brand recognition. It’s the goal of each and every brand to be recognized among competitors since it creates a strong connection between the visual and the “messages and values” parts of your brand in the minds of a customer.
The general benefit of recognition is also extremely useful for markets that have a high level of competition, standing out in these circumstances is a massive advantage. Other benefits of brand consistency are as follows:
Trust and loyalty to consistent branding means that customers have an established expectation for you and your business. Some of the best examples of trust and loyalty of customers come from long-term brand consistency.
Brand perception is much easier to establish and shape to your needs when you already have the attention and recognition from consumers – and you can always tweak it, too, with key messages or some other means.
Positive emotion generation is also something that can be done while developing your brand’s consistency – that way you can make sure the positive emotions that you’re channeling become associated with your brand as a whole.
Establishing brand consistency from scratch
It is rather hard to overestimate the importance of brand consistency. Maintaining it can be a rather complicated task, and that task also becomes several times harder when it comes to new companies or startups. Every single mistake of an upcoming brand would make it difficult for customers to form a positive opinion about the said brand. Here’s what can be done about that problem.
Forming concrete brand guidelines is a good first step so that you can define the purpose of your business and what ideals it stands for. Brand guidelines can include the values of your business, as well as its mission, target audience, etc. Unique visual elements of your brand can also be a part of your brand guidelines – fonts, colors, logo, etc. If all of these assets and guidelines are easily accessible by everyone on your team, it would be far easier for them to present your brand in a multitude of different ways while also keeping your brand consistent.
It is also important to remember not to focus too much on the visual parts of your brand. Figuring out your logo and your visual style is important, but it is still far easier to create than an actual brand personality, a definition of your brand, your brand ideals, and so on. Making sure that you can easily present your brand’s ideals in this form would also make it far easier to create appropriate visuals for that brand.
Once your brand has an established voice and personality, it is time to start promoting it with various social media websites. Each and every content piece that you are sharing as a part of your brand must be within your established brand’s voice, from content posts to audience interactions. One interesting way to approach this is to think of your brand as a person – once the characteristics and personality of that “person” are defined, each and every reply or post should come as if it was sent by that “person”.
If you are struggling with defining the core values of your business, it is always a good idea to look at what your business is good at. The biggest advantages of your business can be a good starting point for defining the message that you want to convey, especially when it comes to what you can offer and what you are promising to your customers – this is what would be guiding your brand’s voice most of the time.
Brand consistency – key practices
Brand identity is all about consistency in design and copy and it is a massive advantage when it comes to the market competition. The problem is that both establishing and maintaining brand consistency is not that easy, to say the least. It takes a lot of time to get it right, and there are many factors effecting your brand development strategy.
While having a definite guide on how to do it right is simply impossible, there are some best practices that everyone can use to improve their brand development strategy:
Set up a brand style (a set of brand guidelines) guide for your brand, so that you can have a reference for each member of your marketing team when it comes to the proper representation of your business. This topic covers elements such as logos, fonts, brand messaging, color palettes, patterns and textures, templates, icons, and so on.
An essential step after getting all of the details of your brand style guide is to explain all of it to your employees. The intention is to avoid marketing message mismatch, to make your branding efforts more consistent – since everyone from your staff knows the goal of your branding efforts.
Another essential part of maintaining brand consistency as a company is to provide your employees with branding assets. If the employees have to create a lot of different branded visuals, they need to use brand assets, such as font, images, logo, colors, shapes, etc, to provide consistency and reduce the number of errors. Another thing that should help to prevent inconsistencies with brand images is to create branded templates with a high consistency level.
If visual elements of your brand are starting to become boring for you, you’re probably on the right track. It’s not uncommon for marketers to get bored of looking at the same visual elements of a brand for a while, but it’s also easier to achieve brand recognition when your material composition is similar everywhere.
Brand consistency and rebranding are extremely hard to combine since rebranding implies changing a part of your brand’s visual representation, at the very least. Always try and maintain at least a part of your previous brand so that you don’t have to start the entire brand recognition process from scratch. However, there are cases when rebranding is borderline necessary for a business to survive. At the same time, rebranding is quite often a result of some rash decisions, which is an extremely dangerous idea when it comes to branding in general. Proper analysis and a clear-headed approach to your current situation is always good first step to see if the problem is in your current branding, or somewhere else entirely. Rebranding as a process might be necessary, but it is always better to make sure that your business needs it.
At the same time, the entire world is always changing at a rapid pace – people have different needs, marketing methods change and evolve, and so on. In this context, brand evolution is something inevitable, since every company has to adapt to the new market rules to survive the competition in the first place. Any of these changes must be done with consistency as the main priority so that the branding itself does not change too much. It is not even necessary to change the core brand values, since changing specific creative elements is often more than enough to create a sense of novelty and achieve their goals.
Since change itself is inevitable, being prepared for it is a lot better than being forced to perform it at a moment’s notice. One of the easiest ways to do so, while also helping your team with brand consistency efforts, is to use DAM software. DAM, or Digital Asset Management, is a type of software built specifically for asset management. It can be used to provide your employees with 24/7 access to all of your brand and marketing assets, with the ability for this software to act as a collaboration software – notifying every one of your employees about the change in your brand materials.
The “consistency” part of this process can also be tricky if used without a proper schedule. Setting up a consistent marketing schedule for your content allows you to have a recognizable time frame in which you’ll be posting new content about your brand. The same can also be applied to entire marketing campaigns, with email newsletters arriving consistently at the same day of the week/month.
Perform brand audits on a regular basis, since the message of your marketing campaign has to remain consistent – for brand consistency’s sake – and also evolve with time and circumstances since the entire world is always changing and evolving. This is what brand audits are supposed to be – taking a step back from work and looking at the entire marketing message as a whole, to ensure it runs well and the message is still there. One of the easiest tools for analyzing your brand consistency or marketing campaign is SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) – it is relatively simple and helps with putting matters into perspective to see if anything needs changing.
Brand consistency examples
Brand image consistency is something that can be attributed to almost any successful company nowadays, including all of the worldwide brands, among other brand consistency examples.
For example, Netflix is a great example of brand consistency on social media. One of the most “on brand” things for Netflix has been audience interaction through social media, as well as creating fun content using screenshots or citations from their own shows. Netflix’s consistency on social media is what brought to it a lot of initial attention, and this kind of maintaining brand consistency still keeps the brand in the memories of a lot of people.
Another interesting example of a brand surviving rebranding and still understanding the importance of consistency in branding is Starbucks. Starbucks has changed its logo several times now, and yet its centerpiece in the form of a head of a siren has remained constant since the beginning – despite the fact that everything around that image has changed, and even the image itself has been slightly modified after each rebranding. Visual brand consistency is still an integral part of a consistent brand image, even though it’s not the entire brand image.
To top it off, we can finish listing positive examples of global brand consistency with Nike – a powerhouse of a brand that has been associating a single “swoosh” with their products for a while now, and even spawned a lot of copycats that leech off of that kind of branding success. Nike’s ability of maintaining brand consistency is incredible – the Nike brand logo is on every single piece of clothing that you can buy from them, which is why the association is deep inside of our brains now.
Inconsistent branding examples
As we have already mentioned, consistency in your branding leads to many substantial benefits for your company. At the same time, it would be useful to review “the other side” of the situation, as in how being inconsistent with your branding is rather harmful to your public image.
The overall landscape is highly competitive these days, and giving up this big of an advantage could make or break it for some companies. A company’s brand is its identity, something that a customer can associate with said company. If a customer is not capable of associating your brand with something specific due to your own actions, then you’re not getting the customer’s trust in the first place, which is a massive negative factor for all of your future sales.
As we have already mentioned, there are quite a lot of statistical examples of companies experiencing an actual effect on sales and other performance indicators because of their inconsistent branding or a failed marketing campaign. As such, it is also possible to segregate some of the biggest and most common inconsistent branding examples.
Failure to understand what your audience needs
One of the bigger reasons for brand inconsistency is the incorrect assumption about what your audience actually needs. The same goes for specific standards or features that contribute to overall customer loyalty. If any of this information is incorrect, any decision based on said information could be disastrous for your brand. Keeping up with the interests of your audience is an essential part of having correct marketing decisions in the first place since a lot of customers base their loyalty to brands on very specific details – and losing even some of these details can have a disastrous effect on your brand as a whole.
Unused brand guidelines
Generating your brand guidelines may be one of the most commonly known pieces of advice when it comes to brand consistency. Creating detailed brand guidelines should be a great way to highlight your brand’s unique points and benefits, which is incredibly helpful when it comes to generating promotional materials of some kind.
However, a surprising addition to this list of inconsistent branding examples is the fact that the number of companies that create brand guidelines and the number of companies that actually uses them differs quite a lot. The lack of understanding that the existence of brand guidelines as a whole is not a solution to every problem in this field is a reason why a lot of companies have issues with brand consistency even with a detailed set of brand guidelines in place – purely because they are not followed, leading to miscommunication, guesswork, incorrect interpretation, and so on.
The issue of miscommunication is usually one of the biggest reasons why there is an internal disconnect between what was supposed to be done and what was actually done – especially when there are two different teams that take part in the process. While this particular issue may be far more relevant for companies that have their teams spread across the globe, the number of companies like that practically skyrocketed ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started – which is why now it is a popular issue.
As such, a lot of companies have experienced all kinds of issues related to miscommunication – poor interpretation of the task, direct miscommunication between departments, and so on. While the results of these issues are rarely published before being noticed, all of them lead to additional work in fixing what was not done correctly, at the very least.
Keeping your vision and your identity
While it is always important for brands to adapt when it comes to all of the changes and trends in the world, it should never be the end goal for any company if it means losing what is unique about your own brand – your vision and your identity. The identity of your brand is a way to showcase how your specific company is unique and what it does, and losing all that to chase the most current trend is incredibly dangerous for any brand out there.
Inconsistent branding examples
Coming up with inconsistent branding examples is surprisingly difficult, since a lot of companies made mistakes with branding in general, and it’s not easy to figure out what was a part of brand consistency, and what was not. But we’ve managed to figure out two interesting inconsistent branding examples that did not help the brand itself at all.
Comcast is a massive American telecommunications conglomerate that is placed second in the rating of broadcasting/cable television companies by revenue. However, that’s not to say its history has always been as good as its revenue stream.
Before and around 2010 Comcast has been widely known to have absolutely terrible customer service, and the rise of the internet as a whole helped to prove a lot of these claims with video or audio evidence. This was the main reason for their rebranding in 2010 (from Comcast to Xfinity) – in an attempt to show their customers that they had overcome their issues when it comes to customer service.
The problem was that Comcast has been neglecting this issue for quite a while – and this is where our topic of brand consistency comes in. Since Comcast has been this consistent in its bad customer service, it has become the company that has bad customer service in people’s minds. The fact that changing the logo was their only move to battle abysmal customer service did not help matters, either.
As such, Comcast’s example shows us that a consistent brand identity does not only accumulate positive things about your brand. The accumulation of negative experiences is also possible, especially if done for a prolonged period of time.
The second participant in our list of inconsistent branding examples is Mozilla. For the record, Mozilla Firefox is on the list of the best web browsers in the world. It is widely known among internet users, that is for sure. This is why there was a lot of confusion when 2017 arrived and Mozilla decided to rebrand itself in a weird way.
From Mozilla to Moz://a, this change was commented on by the head of the company Tim Murray, as well – he claimed that it was more obvious that Mozilla is an internet company when there’s a part of the URL address in the company’s name. This was an explanation for a company that did not need to explain itself on the market. And this is how we can attribute it to brand consistency problems, as well – rebranding for the sake of change is not a recipe to success.
Sometimes it is far more useful to build on your existing foundation, which is what Firefox did for many years and has become easily recognizable in the eyes of many Internet users. Overcomplicating the logo of your brand can also backfire if the change was not needed in the first place.
There is also the inconsistent branding example of Tropicana – a relatively small company in the American market that turned into a famous worldwide brand of beverages. It has been around for quite a while and decided to rebrand back in 2009.
The first problem with that decision was the fact that it was Tropicana’s decision to change all of its main brand elements at once – including its packaging, its logo, its marketing approach, and so on. A simple example of why this attempt failed completely is Tropicana’s branding. An orange with a straw coming out of it was Tropicana’s unique trait that made it unique in the sea of other beverage suppliers.
A new Tropicana packaging did not include that particular image, going for the generic yellow beverage in a glass as a centerpiece. As a result of that, Tropicana faced a rather sizeable loss in sales because customers simply could not discern their packaging in the sea of similar generic beverage packages. There are reports of Tropicana’s total sales dropping at least 20% before the rebranding decision was reversed.
In this case, a popular part of brand identity was stripped from the brand itself, making it a lot harder to recognize even for people that were already customers of this brand, let alone for anyone not familiar with it.
Even Royal Mail can be considered a part of the inconsistent branding examples list, because of their rebranding attempt back in 2001. A multinational postal service that originated in Britain thought of the idea of transforming its old logo into something that is more modern and fresh.
It is believed that Royal Mail’s intent was to try and compete with other international postal companies such as FedEx, UPS, etc. The result of that action, however, was confusion, first and foremost. The “new” brand name was Consignia, and there were many questions about this choice of a name for the brand. The PR efforts were non-existent, the name itself was difficult to pronounce, and their efforts to explain that Consignia is Royal Mail was insufficient, to say the least.
This is a good example of how blindly chasing trends and popular themes should not be done without careful consideration of your own customers, as well as how much this change fits your brand. In this example, simplicity in explanation was lacking from start, which lead to a lot of confusion for Royal Mail customers – a brand with a very diverse clientele. Each and every rebranding attempt should be followed by a clear-cut explanation of what changed and what did not, it is the only correct way to perform rebranding while keeping your audience.
All of these examples of poor brand consistency show how it is important to keep your brand image in mind at all times, since fixing a bad brand image is not an easy task, and a single rebranding won’t be enough for a lot of cases.
Brand consistency is a moderately complicated topic that is considered essential for the long-term success of any brand on any market. However, it’s also important to remember that brand consistency is not focused on attributing a brand with specific positive things – there are times when a negative experience becomes consistent for a brand, and this might take a lot of time and resources to get rid of in the eyes of your customers.
Victoria is the CEO at Viewst. She is a serial entrepreneur and startup founder. She worked in Investment Banking for 9 years as international funds sales, trader, and portfolio manager. Then she decided to switch to her own startup. In 2017 Victoria founded Profit Button (a new kind of rich media banners), the project has grown to 8 countries on 3 continents in 2 years. In 2019 she founded Viewst startup. The company now has clients from 43 countries, including the USA, Canada, England, France, Brazil, Kenya, Indonesia, etc.