It’s no secret that cultivating and maintaining a consistent brand develops brand awareness, projects professionalism and builds trust amongst new and loyal customers alike. One industry report on brand loyalty found that over 40% of respondents considered consistency to be the most important influencing factor. Building a consistent brand over the short and long term is clearly essential for all successful companies, no matter the size or industry. But how can you achieve brand consistency across a vast product offering?
Develop your Brand’s Message
Consumers are constantly being bombarded with brand messaging from all angles, so in order for your brand message to take hold it needs to be consistent, persistent and relevant.
Start by drafting a ‘brand charter’ document that represents your core company values and ethos. Take the time to really hone in on what your brand stands for; think of this as your brand identity that can then be applied across all of your products, no matter how diverse the offering. This should be centred firmly around identifying both what your products are and are not intended for. Clearly stating who your products are aimed towards will also avoid time wasted on chasing after the wrong target audience in the long run. Once you’ve created this document, make sure it’s accessible for all staff to refer back to as the company grows. It’s also important that once you’ve decided on it- stick to it! Constant changes will dilute your brand messaging.
If this all sounds too abstract, take a moment to think about the tech giant Apple’s brand image. Love or loathe them, Apple is a brand that almost everybody has an opinion on. They’ve built their brand consistency by releasing a series of innovative products that reinforce their core brand values of simplicity and excellence. Consumers expect the same high level of quality and service with every interaction they have with an Apple product. By consistently satisfying their customers’ expectations, Apple have built a fiercely loyal and ever-increasing fan base.
Establish Brand Guidelines
You have the brand message nailed, next comes developing a set of sturdy brand guidelines that will shape all of your brand’s output: from social media, to packaging, to the products themselves. In today’s digital world, it’s almost certain that your customers will interact with your brand both offline and online. Having finely tuned brand guidelines in place helps maintain a consistent message across all platforms, from social media and digital marketing to events and print marketing.
Otherwise known as a brand book or brand style guide, this indispensable document sets out the stylistic, visual and linguistic guidelines that govern the look and feel of your brand. This can include everything from your company’s mission statement to key branding elements such as logo design and usage, typography and colour pallette. This isn’t about prescribed uniformity or stifling creativity in the design process but instead ensuring that your brand’s values and ethos are behind each and every product, tweet and email.
There’s no hard and fast rules as to what should be included in your brand guidelines- avoid an entirely formulaic approach and make it your own, the tone and presentation of the guidelines themselves are also an important part of your brand message.
If you’re still in need of some inspiration to get started, check out how big name brands such as Walmart have approached the task. The length of their 25 page corporate brand guidelines may seem daunting, but it’s a worthwhile read and demonstrates just how in-depth brand guidelines can be.
Maintain a Consistent Brand Image
Controlling how your products are perceived by consumers is just as important as ensuring that people buy them in the first instance. The overall perception is informed by many aspects of the brand including packaging, in-store presentation and chosen stockists. Craft brewing experts Brewdog, for example, have developed a distinctive brand image through using a consistent design across a wide range of products and packaging.
Maintaining consistent on-brand messaging and visuals at every stage of the design and marketing process, from packaging to advertising will help ensure that consumers’ perceptions of your branded products align with your core brand identity. The best brand message in the world is of no use if it isn’t communicated successfully outside of your business.
Alongside investing in targeted offline and online advertising, another way to build on your brand image is to keep in regular contact with your customer base through social media. It’s fast, cost-effective and provides a direct link between client and brand. Forging a personal connection with customers is a crucial component of encouraging a lasting relationship that ultimately drives long-term sales.
As it’s more informal than traditional advertising, your social media pages are also a great platform for showcasing and developing your brand’s personality. The key here is to mix product-focused posts with more general content that reflects your wider brand ethos. It may seem counterintuitive not to focus solely on product promotion, but structuring your social media output to include more diverse content actually adds value to your brand offering.
Ultimately, the key to building and maintaining brand consistency across your product offering is to implement a strong brand strategy early on that drives every aspect of the business. Time invested in this process will pay dividends, as a carefully considered strategy can translate into increased sales and business development in the long run.