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.
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.
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 guide for your brand, so that you can have a reference for everyone in terms of branding representation, including colors, visuals, fonts, etc.
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.
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.
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 examples of brand consistency 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.
Our second example here 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.
Both 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.