The value of consistency
The big brands get it! Being consistent with your brand builds a strong and profitable business. Why? Our brains like consistency, consistency builds trust, we use things we trust. That’s it in a nut shell.
Before you start reading, check out this interview I did with client, Growthwise on the topic of ‘The Value of Consistency’ which inspired this article.
Why should you be consistent with your brand?
Think about the big brands, for example Apple. Apple started with it’s first computer in 1976, 40 years on and look where it is. The Apple brand was developed by 3 men, they made the device in the house of one of these men. Then, using word of mouth and selling to family and friends the product was given to the world. What stands out to me is that it was Apple! From day 1 it was Apple.
As the devices they developed became smarter and widely available they never changed the branding of the product. Looking at my Mac there is the ‘apple’ logo in front of me. I know without another thought it’s an Apple product. I look at my phone and flip it over and there it is, an Apple, that’s right, I use an iPhone. iMac, iPod, iPad, headphones produced by Apple, chargers, watches, ANYTHING that Apple makes, without a doubt, you will find the image of an apple on it.
Apple has been consistent since day 1 and put their logo on everything they produce. At the start the Apple brand said ‘Apple’ and had the apple image. These days, no word is needed, the world knows that this apple picture (without the word apple), means it is produced by Apple. The shape of the apple has remained unchanged since the beginning; the colour, size and texture has changed with the times but that apple shape has remained consistent. Without a doubt this consistency has helped build this brand to the brand it is today! This branding has produced trust in their products and built their brand and image to what it is today.
Broadly speaking, branding makes people recognise your company, business or product. But it isn’t solely about recognition; this is a small part of what the overall branding should be. A brand should reflect what you stand for, what your product quality is like, and how you go about your business. For Apple their products are known to be reliable and up to date – Apple is usually the first to bring out the ‘next big thing’.
Let’s move away from Apple and look at a shop chain, Bunnings Warehouse for example, obviously they have the logo which is well known, but they also have the idea that Bunnings warehouse have experts, are helpful and will give you the best price! How do they do this? It’s consistency across their shopping centres, the adverts they use and also the feeling they give to customers when they visit their shops. In my opinion they are right on the money with their branding approach and it is the reason Bunnings warehouse is so successful.
When Bunnings advertise they add the ‘find a cheaper price and we’ll beat it by 10%’, this wording has become part of their brand. When you go into one of their shops, the friendly person is standing welcoming you as you arrive, if you are looking blankly at a wall someone asks you if you need help, if you approach a worker and they are unsure on something they will find another working who can give you the answer and seem to go above and beyond to get you what you want, this is part of ‘who they are’ and therefore the branding.
Even Bunnings shopfront has blackboards telling you about the next DIY presentation they have on and they are free to attend, contributing to the branding. I have been to different Bunnings stores and sometimes I forget I am not in my local store, because they are so consistent in their branding all their stores seen to have the same ‘feel’. Bunnings have produced this family friendly, affordable, helpful business branding that is so much more than just the green and red logo you see. In saying that, the green and red logo is what ties it all together, you need the logo because it is a quick reference and stands out to tell us, we are in fact at Bunnings. The logo is consistent, it is found on not only the shop front, website and advertisements but also on gift cards, hats, mugs, toys and umbrellas they sell. They need the consistent logo to help sell their brand to the world.
Let’s look at consistency from a different angle as it works in the same way as branding. So you meet someone new, they seem nice and are talking about the weather, the next minute they are yelling uncontrollably about something, then they begin laughing hysterically at a joke, back to nice, yelling, crying. They are all over the place. Wanna catch up with this same person again next week? Probably not. It’s the same deal with branding. Meeting someone for the first time you don’t want to see their crazy erratic side, it makes us humans feel uncomfortable, it’s not trustworthy.
If you go to a coffee shop and one week they sell you a delicious coffee you really enjoy, and the next week it tastes like dirt you are sceptical about going back there again as you don’t know what you will get. Consistency is the key to building a strong and profitable brand.
Touching on the psyche of advertising
Our brains like familiarity. The more we see something the more familiar it becomes. To learn a little more about this you can read more about the psychology of advertising here.
But in a nutshell, we build this familiarity with consistency. Do you think CocaCola became what it is today by putting white writing on red background and selling a product? It was about building that logo, being consistent with that flavour, and setting up that image of what type of person drinks CocaCola. The consistency in the branding is what made CocaCola familiar. It is this familiarity that has enabled it to become such a strong and profitable product. Some branding is based around celebrities, again we are familiar with these actors, ours brains like familiarity and it sells products.
Consistency isn’t just for the big guys
As a designer I get to work with may small to medium businesses and the one thing that I try to drum in, is to be consistent with their brand.
One client that has been quite successful with this is Growthwise. I began working with Growthwise in 2009 when I met Steph and the team to design their initial logo, stationery and the platform for their brand. Since then I have continuously worked with the team designing various brand assets including various press pieces, character illustrations, social media templates and more in keeping with the story that they have established. This has helped Growthwise become known as a leader in their field, at first locally & now nationally.
I am in no way taking credit for their success as it was not me who has tirelessly worked on ensuring consistency, the team at Growthwise have made small and consistent incremental steps to keep all communications on brand all snowballing into the brand awareness that they have today.
How to be consistent when branding?
Being consistent seems like an easy job but it is important to be consistent from the very beginning. You have a brand to build and need to have a clear model of what you want to be. It needs to be more than just a logo, a slogan or a popular product. Yes, your logo needs to stay the same. Yes, a consistent slogan can certainly help. Yes, selling a decent product or service is a must have. But all these things need to tie together to create your overall branding, overall image of your business or product, it is what can turn your company from good to great.
Build an avatar! This is something I have personally used in my business. Build an avatar of your client. Who are you trying to sell to, what are their likes and dislikes, what era do they come from, how old are they, what socioeconomic bracket do they belong to? You can have as many questions as you like and be as broad or closed as you like. It is the best way to learn who you are actually targeting. An avatar for a fresh new juice bar will be very different to that of an ice cream shop. A family friendly restaurant compared to a high end steak house. I am sure David Jones’ avatar would certainly be different to Kmart’s. An avatar is a great starting point to creating a consistent and strong brand, as they say “know your audience”. Once you know who you are targeting you can build your brand and therefore communications strategy around that targeted clientele.
If you employ people then all of your staff needs to know what is expected, and all of your staff need to be consistent. Create a strong mission statement, policies and procedures and ensure that everyone who works for you knows what they are! The industrial engineer in me knows this as a Quality Assurance Manual, which is a manual that guides the products and services by quality. My younger self worked for a restaurant chain and I can remember learning and having it drummed into me that the ‘customer is always right!’. Still to this day you go to this certain business and you are assured that the food you expect will be replicated. It’s part of who they are. I learnt it day 1 of my training, 20 years later and it hasn’t changed.
We’ve talked about consistency in all aspect but it is so important I am mentioning it again. Consistency in your products, consistency in your logo on everything including; letterheads, business cards, signage, envelopes, invoices, emails etc, consistency, consistency, consistency. It is the only, I repeat, the ONLY way to build a strong brand.
psyborg® was founded by Daniel Borg, an Honours Graduate in Design from the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Daniel also has an Associate Diploma in Industrial Engineering and has experience from within the Engineering & Advertising Industries.
Daniel has completed over 2800 design projects consisting of branding, content marketing, digital marketing, illustration, web design, and printed projects since psyborg® was first founded. psyborg® is located in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle but services business Nation wide.
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