I can understand how you might find a marketer’s white knuckled commitment to brand consistency kind of annoying. I mean, what is the big deal? Anyone would think it was a ‘life and death’ issue when you hear marketers say things like: ‘No, there’s no way we can do it. We need to think about your brand (insert any number of options here: brand voice, brand attributes, brand atmosphere, brand language, brand personality, brand experience, brand value, brand identity…).’ Ahhhhh, I know it’s exhausting, but it is a big deal for your business.
The thing is, while we marketers have a reputation of being a creative bunch of misfits, we get downright uptight when it comes to your brand and how it’s represented and perceived by your customers and potential customers.
Every year, global brand consultancy Interbrand ranks its top 100 brands based on one key quality: brand cohesiveness (another one to add to the list above). You could argue this is how we – marketers and businesses alike – need to think about as an expanded definition of brand consistency, particularly given the rise of digital and social media channels, and the opportunities they create for building brands.
So how do consistency and cohesiveness come together and build successful brands? Consistency is doing the same thing in the same way everywhere, every time. With cohesiveness, these same things are done through multiple formats and channels to connect and create one unified brand experience.
In an article from Advertising Age, Interbrand’s Josh Feldman explains it best. He says the reason companies like Apple – that took out the number one spot (again) in Interbrand’s 2016 Top 100 – are so successful is the value created through its ‘cohesiveness’ as a connected business system.
“Apple communicates with its customers through its hardware, software and retail stores to deliver one consistent narrative or ecosystem. Building ecosystems (like these) around human beings and natural behaviour (is) about adding a set of products and services that are relevant and doing it in a connected way.”
Brand ecosystems? Really? Yes! This is where we are now and this is how we need to think about brand consistency in 2017. We’ve never been more connected which means, customers have never been more connected to brands – and brands have never been as accessible to customers via online and social channels.
If your brand isn’t sending a consistent, cohesive narrative and experience across multiple channels, you lose trust and credibility. Building trust has always been critical to brand success – whether you’re a hip clothing company or a big bank, without trust, your brand falls flat.
Customers want to know your brand. They want to rely on your brand, like a comfortable shoe. No one likes erratic, unfamiliar behaviour from someone you thought you knew and could rely on – same goes for brands.
How do we make sure your brand builds trust and is ultimately successful? You need brand consistency with a hefty side order of brand cohesiveness across every channel, store and customer interaction.