No point in stringing you along—let's get right to the gist of this post:
What is brand consistency? Branding IS consistency.
There are, in fact, a LOT of blog posts that discuss brand consistency. And they usually start with the question, "First off, what is brand consistency?" But for some reason, none/few put it so plainly as "Branding = Consistency." And, sure, that may be an oversimplification. But not by much.
Does great branding require a certain amount of flexibility? Yes.
Does great branding need to exhibit creativity? Of course.
But without creating repeated and recognizable visuals and messaging, you're not really "branding" things at all. If you stay true—consistent, even—to the foundational elements of your brand, you can still achieve flexibility and creativity, because people will recognize your core message, core visuals, and core tone.
For more on brand foundation, read our introduction to integrated branding.
Why does brand consistency matter?
Consistency matters because without it, you don't really have a brand. Consistency helps create the brand recognition and brand loyalty that attracts and keeps customers. Internally, it helps guide, manage, and cost-effectively scale the creation of branded materials.
Brand recognition happens when the audience connects the message, tone, and look of an item with a specific company or brand. The more recognizable a brand is, the more top-of-mind it is; and more top-of-mind brands get higher purchase consideration.
Brand loyalty is built by delighting audiences and increasing their attachment to a brand—usually through consistently memorable and delightful brand interactions. These interactions should align with a consistent brand promise and creative approach. The higher the brand loyalty, the better the chance an audience and/or customers will continue to choose one brand over another.
Ease-of-execution is a great internal side-effect of brand consistency—it's easier, quicker, and thus more inexpensive to create materials when your team knows consistency is a goal, and there's already a batch of assets to base things on.
How do you achieve brand consistency?
So now we understand what brand consistency is, and why it matters—great. How do we make it happen?
Step one to getting consistent requires developing a detailed set of brand rules and examples—for both messaging and visuals—for content creators to follow. This can be a lengthy process, but the result is a foundational resource that will help create alignment between your teams and the materials they produce. One pro tip here is to avoid locking down messaging and visuals so tightly that there's no room for creativity or flexibility.
Once brand guidelines have been established, there needs to be dedicated roles for reviewing materials and enforcing guidelines. This can be as little as one or two people, but they should be experts when it comes to the brand, able to determine whether or not an item meets the standards for brand consistency.
The main reason "Planning" is #3 and not #1 is that planning should continue long after guidelines and enforcement are in place, especially if consistency is still a goal (and it should be). Every big campaign and slight brand evolution will require proper thought and rationale in order to balance new creative against foundational visuals, messaging, and essence. As long as a brand stays true to its core identity, it should be able to stay creatively flexible without becoming unrecognizable and losing equity.
Contact us today if you're interested in auditing your brand, creating more consistency, or simply extending and scaling what you've already got. You can also learn more about A Brave New's approach to branding here.