Imagine that you’re looking for shoes online and discover a new brand. The website is sleek and modern, the shoes are well-photographed, and they seem to care about quality. These might be the shoes! Then you click over to their Instagram page, where you’re met with a zany logo, colors that didn’t appear anywhere on the website, and a feed full of shoe-related memes. Suddenly, you’re not so sure about these shoes.
The reason for this about-face boils down to brand inconsistency. Read on to learn why brand consistency is so important and how you can use technology to easily and perfectly achieve it.
Why Brand Consistency Is Important
First off, let’s define brand consistency. As the term implies, it relates to a brand presenting itself consistently to the world. Brand consistency means defining a brand’s identity, values, and strategy over time, and then creating brand messaging and visual assets that align with these core components.
Brand consistency is important for a variety of reasons, first and foremost being brand awareness. If your brand always looks or feels different, it’s as if it’s disguising itself in front of consumers — which is the exact opposite of what you want. By always reaching people with the same tone, colors, visual assets, and more, your brand will be more easily recognizable and memorable.
Then there’s trust. Let’s go back to our shoe example: now that you’ve seen the Instagram page, you’re no longer interested in buying shoes from this brand, because you don’t know what to expect from them. In order for consumers to trust a brand with their hard-earned money, they need to believe that they’ll get a dependably good result. Every interaction with consumers should embody your brand’s promises in a way that consistently underscores who you are. This will build deep and long-lasting trust.
Unfortunately, maintaining brand consistency isn’t as simple as merely defining your brand identity and values. With social media and the ease of content creation tools these days, basically every employee has the opportunity to represent the brand to the public; and even if they have the best of intentions, their version of the brand doesn’t always fit the gold standard. That’s why it’s so important to come up with a clear strategy for ensuring brand consistency at all levels.
Examples of Brand Consistency Done Right — and Wrong
To help illustrate what we mean when we talk about brand consistency, let’s look at a few examples. First, some brands who nailed it:
- Starbucks: From the ubiquitous white-and-green cups to the universally understood ordering process to the fact that you can get a Starbucks coffee anywhere in the world and it’ll taste the same, this is one company that has brand consistency down. They play with variations to keep things interesting (think: new seasonal drinks, and the special holiday cups revealed each year), but everything remains aligned with their core identity.
- Warby Parker: When Warby Parker emerged to disrupt the eyeglasses industry, they positioned themselves as luxuriously accessible. This blend of high-class and low-key permeates all aspects of their branding, from the in-store experience to their marketing materials to the fun, sleek ways their products are packed.
- Lululemon: In a trend-driven industry, Lululemon has remained at the top of the game for decades, and much of this can be attributed to its consistent branding. Not only do consumers easily recognize their logo (and know to expect a certain quality when they spot it), Lululemon extends its branding to real life events like in-store exercise classes, and aspirational social media pages.
And now for a few companies with notable brand consistency fumbles:
- Coca-Cola: In many ways, Coke is a total brand consistency rock star, with one big exception: their rollout of “New Coke” back in 1985. They created the new product to compete with Pepsi, but it ultimately backfired, because it betrayed the trust of consumers who had come to expect a very specific taste from Coke.
- Apple: Apple is known and loved for their revolutionary, beautifully designed physical products. So when they launched Apple Music, a content streaming service, there was a backlash. Not only did it violate consumer expectations, it also created ethical outrage over royalty payments that artists weren’t receiving.
- Colgate: Crazy as it may sound, this well-known brand once tried to branch out beyond toothpaste, into the realm of frozen food! Perhaps needless to say, it was not received very well.
All of these examples serve as a reminder that everything your brand does can either reinforce or undermine brand consistency, and this, in turn, informs your success.
Tech Tools to Help you Maintain Brand Consistency
Given the importance of brand consistency, and the countless points of contact between your brand and the public, it’s essential to have your brand consistency locked down. One way to do this is to have a VP of Brand who oversees everything, but this is time-consuming, expensive, and just not feasible once a company grows beyond a few employees. Thankfully, tech can help out.
There’s a ton of software that can streamline brand consistency, giving you confidence in how your brand is being presented to the world without needing to get your hands into everything. Here are some of our favorite tools for enforcing brand consistency:
- Digital Asset Management System: If you’re only going to use one type of tool for brand consistency, it should be a digital asset management system (DAM). These are robust platforms that let you store, organize, find, create, and distribute all of your digital content, from images to videos to emails and beyond. It goes above file-sharing platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox, and eliminates the need to waste time searching through folders or emailing back and forth to get the right asset. Lytho is one excellent DAM option.
- Workflow Tools: Software that helps manage workflow can also help with brand consistency. By integrating with other services (like a DAM) and allowing each task to include attachments, detailed notes, and approvals, it ensures that nobody can “go rogue” and create something that doesn’t align with your brand. Some great options are Monday, Asana, and ClickUp.
- Style Guide Creation: It’s one thing to define your brand identity and create a style guide. But oftentimes these documents just gather (figurative) dust in a (figurative) drawer somewhere, never to be seen again. Tools like Frontify make it easy to create cloud-based style guidelines that all employees can access whenever they need them.
- Social Asset Creation: Having a social presence is non-negotiable these days, and what you put out on social media matters — but creating new, on-brand content every day is difficult and time-consuming. Apps like Canva let you create templates that enforce consistent visual assets to use on social.
- Branded Email Signature: Yes, even your email signatures should be on brand! We like WiseStamp to create branded email signatures for everyone at your company.
- Branded Links: The actual URLs you send out into the world can also help drive home brand consistency. Using a tool like Rebrandly lets you put your brand name into shortened URLs, so people will more easily remember who created the content they clicked on.
You know who your brand is — now it’s your job to let the world know, too. Brand consistency is the way to do that, and these tools can help you make it happen.