Why brand consistency matters

Jun 02, 2020

Inspiring & enabling your people to add value to your brand 

If you're a Head of Design or a Head of Brand, you understand at least at gut-level why consistency is so important in branding. But how to explain that to the myriad of departments, partners and people using your brand? And how do you inspire and enable them to use your brand and its assets consistently? 

Brand value works from the inside toward the outside of your organization, and through repeated exposure.  

Your brand identity is not built up out of logos, fonts, colors, and a tagline. Ideally, your brand is based upon the core idea, the Purpose – the mission or story that drives your organization and the people in it forward. It is the story that binds them to each other and the story that binds your partners and customers to you as well. 

The tangible brand assets should, again ideally, follow from that – and be made tangible through the way your brand acts, communicates, and looks – and through your products and/or services. 

As such, a brand is not only an asset for marketing; it's an asset for management, HR, and recruitment, first, and an asset for marketing and sales, second. That's because making people in the market feel your brand starts with people in your organization feeling the brand, first. This is all the more true in the open-wide, incredibly transparent internet-era we live in, today. 

But what we need to understand is that the financial value is the external end point: the value of the brand starts from within. 

So, if it starts from within - how do you maximize that value creation? Through consistency. 

Brand guidelines: why consistent use of brand assets is important 

Your story, your brand identity, guidelines and assets; colors, font, logo designall of these factors can contribute to adding business value to your brand. And there is one thing all organizations can do to improve the positive effects from using your brand assets. All of the positive effects you hope to garner from your brand and its visual assets, live or die with consistency.   

Why? Focusing on branding and brand elements, the concept of consistency works in two major ways:  

  1. Consistency in the relationship between the core idea of the brand and the visual assets.   
    You need to use the brand consistently in the sense that what you communicate, how you communicate and what your communications and content look like, are consistent with the true identity of your brand.  
    More so now than ever before, people in your audience will figure out if what you're saying and trying to show on the outside, matches with what really goes on on the inside of your organization.    
  1. Consistent use of your assets  
    People need to be reminded of things, and things need to be repeated a lot before they stick in people's minds. Memories, feelings, associations – these are the psychological mechanisms that a brand is built up out of. You need to give people the exact same set of stimuli – or at least as perfectly the same as possible – to make sure you obtain that much-desired spot in their list of trusted and preferred brands.  

If your audience is clear on who you are, knows what to expect, trusts you and like you, that means you’ve “branded” an impression through repetition and consistency — specifically, with your behavior, your words (your tone of voice, personality and your overall message), and your brand visuals.  

Inconsistencies in how your brand is used meanwhile, can damage internal brand value as well as external brand value. 

The financial value of branding

Please have a look at the following statement:  

Brands create financial value for their owners, and well-managed and consistently used brands more so than others. 

This statement feels true, and we can estimate that it should be true as we all have some concept of how brand preference can lead to greater market share, revenue, and profits – but also market valuations. But how can we know that strong brands add value? 

Apparently, branding doesn't only hold and add value – the relative added value seems to be increasing. This is influenced by the cost of production becoming so low for many products and even services over the last few decades, that the distinction from one vendor to the other is being made less and less on the basis of the quality of what they're selling.  

According to Millward Brown Optimor’s analysis, in 1980 almost the entire value of an average S&P 500 company was comprised of tangible assets (chairs, factories, inventory, et cetera). In 2010, tangible assets accounted for only 30 to 40 percent of a company’s value. The rest is intangible value, and about half of that intangible portion, close to 30 percent of total business value, is attributed to brands.  

Even during the turbulent period since 2006, the BrandZ™ Top 10 Most Powerful Brands Portfolio of stocks grew two-and-a-half times faster than the S&P - proving that even when economic tides are low, brand building is an investment, not a cost. 

The business value of brand consistency 

Next to showing that brand consistency is important because brand value is important, research has shown some more directly measurable effects of consistent use of branding: brands that are consistently presented can expect to see an average revenue increase of 33%. What else does research show about the link between consistency and brand value? 

What is brand consistency made of? 

  • Repetition, for one. On average, five to seven brand impressions are necessary before someone will even remember your brand. 
  • But remember – you build brand loyalty on the basis of shared values with your consumers. It is not the number of interactions a buyer has with your brand, but the quality and relatability of the interaction.  
  • Brand consistency is also made of managed variation. You want to be able to move things around, shake things up, and be creative. You just have to make sure that whoever is managing the brand stays in control of the evolution of the brand and of its assets. 

Quality and consistency:  what should we be consistent about? 

  • This report by Deloitte shows how Purpose and Authenticity are going to be the determining factors in which brands survive and which won't in the decade ahead of us. Making an authentic connection at the human level will be at the core of what drives buyer decision making.  
  • Therefore, not using a consistent approach to your brand could limit your chances to generate leads or sales. That's because people buy from brands they connect with, and brands which feel authentic. It's hard to connect with a brand that doesn't have a consistent appearance. 
    Think about it this way: if a person you know behaves in a certain way – and they do it consistently across various types of contexts and situations - you will know that you can trust that person to behave in that way. The opposite is also true. And the same applies to brands. 

What are the risks of brand inconsistency? 

  • Inconsistent branding doesn't just impact your customers — it hurts employee morale too. Lucidpress reports that employees can feel embarrassed or demotivated when something goes wrong with your brand image.   
  • Lucidpress also reports that the greatest negative impact of inconsistent brand usage is the creation of confusion in the market.  

The importance of brand consistency are likely to keep rising in the near future, right along with the importance of branding itself. Customer expectations are on the rise — 45% of customers have come to expect great design. Meanwhile, while 95% of companies have brand guidelines, only 50% of companies report to have brand guidelines that are easy to find 

Having your brand guidelines in one easy-to-find location is one way to improve the consistent use of your brand. But not the only think you need to think of.  

How to be consistent: getting people to use your assets consistently 

Now, getting everybody that works with your brand assets to use assets consistently is something you probably won't achieve overnight. The aim of this article has been to help you get across the value of a brand and the reasons why consistent use of brand assets is important.  

Some key points on managing brand consistency: 

It should be clear who is in charge of your brand and the management of its assets. Often this responsibility falls on the CMO or brand manager of your organization, and their team. It is wise to have processes and guidelines in place for the usage of brand assets. A Brand Book and a Brand Style Guide are two very useful tools in that respect.  

To help more easily manage your brand, we believe it's highly valuable to have one single source of truth as to what your brand's purpose is, and how that purpose connects everything we do and the way we do it. This is what a Brand Book helps you achieve.   

  • A Brand Style Guide is the place where you tell people more about your visual brand assets and how to use them. This is the number one place to tell people how and why to use the visual assets of your brand, like your logo and its variations.  

Finally, a Digital Asset Management platform that stores and organizes each brand asset that you have in one central location, can be of great help in governing the correct and consistent use of brand assets. 

The single source of truth for your brand assets — DAM platforms 

Especially for marketing teams who are collaborating remotely with each other, their internal and external marketing ecosystem and other internal and external stakeholders, a Digital Asset Management platform like Lytho can add a lot of value. Applied strategically, you will be sure to get the most value out of your brand and the related assets by using a DAM system, mainly thanks to the consistency it adds to your people's creativity. 

A few things a Digital Asset Management system can help you achieve are: 

  • Using one source for all content 
    Instead of scattering your content over different tools, a DAM gathers all your marketing content in one place. This helps create a clear overview and helps you stay in control of who is allowed to use what, when, and where.
  • Creating your own designs and maintaining control 
    With a DAM that incorporates ‘Create & Publish’ functionalities, everyone is a designer. Predefined templates make it easy to create advertorials, websites or brochures within your content hub – and always on-brand.  
  • Saving up to 70% of your time  
    Advanced search options and easier feedback processes within DAM systems such as Lytho allow you to spend time on what matters – enabling you to scale content creation all the while maintaining consistency. 

Want to learn more about the benefits of a DAM system to your brand management efforts? 

  • To learn more about the added value of a DAM system for managing your brand, download our whitepaper “Improve your Marketing Performance with DAM.” 
  • To learn more about the Lytho DAM platform and its core capabilities, click here or go right ahead and book a demo with us. It's free and online, and takes up no more than about 20 minutes. 

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