Brand consistency helps improve the strength of a brand over time through increased awareness. In the eyes of your customers and prospects, a consistent brand instantly makes your company more:
But what activities help keep a brand consistent? Here are five exercises that should be done on an annual basis:
1. Review Your Style Guide
Your brand's style guide should not be a static tome of advice. It should be a living document that gets refreshed or updated when needed. Think back over the past year, have there been any examples of brand execution (good or bad) that would be helpful to include in the style guide?
You may run into a new question or use case that was not previously covered in the style guide that now needs to be added. Here are some examples:
- Should the brand colors have more flexibility when it comes to apparel for employees? How about on a promotional product where color choices are limited?
- In the case of a new partnership, how should logos be displayed together?
- Consider new technology: How would your brand appear as a Snapchat filter? As an Instagram sticker?
2. Execute a Search
Use a Google search to determine your brand consistency across the web. A Google image search can help you easily see where an old logo is still in use. You can then reach out to make updates. While not everything on the internet can be changed, you can get most of it in line.
Set up Google Alerts to receive an email whenever your brand is mentioned on the web. It's usually easiest to request corrections within the first day or two of publication.
3. Conduct Physical and Digital Audits
If your brand has a physical presence with multiple offices or stores, nothing can replace actually getting out in the field and performing a brand audit to see the execution firsthand. Whether you use an internal team or a network of mystery shoppers, getting eyes on your brand network on a recurring basis ensures that all employees know brand consistency is a top priority.
Similarly, you'll want to complete a collateral audit of all your marketing resources, whether they are digital or printed assets.
4. Do a Reality Check
It's often said that a brand is not defined by the company itself, but in the mind of its customers. Does your branding actually align with what's being delivered through your products and services? You'll have to source some voice of customer for this exercise. Brand messages should be echoed back as answers in a survey of your customers.
For example, our company values include Quality, Creativity, Customer Experience, Team and Continuous Improvement. So we want to be sure these values are actually being delivered in the real world. We asked our customers, "What's one word you would use to describe us?" Their answers show that we are being consistent in delivering on our brand promises:
5. Evaluate All Vendor Partners
It's likely that you are outsourcing at least some of your marketing efforts. Vendors need to be kept in line with brand consistency as well. Do they have a copy of your style guide and know what is expected from them in terms of quality and consistency? At a minimum, make sure you meet and review with the teams at your:
- Ad agencies
- Promotional products buyers
- Freelance designers and copywriters
- Website hosts and email service providers
Consistency is more easily achieved when you can source more solutions from a single vendor, so determine if you can narrow your supply chain by finding vendors that can fill more than one category.
In the end, just remember this: A consistent brand is not a boring brand, it's a winning brand!