Every company, even if they don’t pay that much attention to it, has a brand. This is the unique personality that underlies everything you do in the way of marketing. I’m sure whenever you hear “Apple” or “Coca-Cola”, you get a distinct impression and set of emotions relating to the company.
That impulsive little reaction is the company’s brand. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, a corporation or a non-profit, every organisation relies on their brand somewhat for their continued success. In this article, we’ll have a look at brand consistency, and how it can bolster your marketing efforts.
When it comes to strong and consistent branding, there’s only one company we need to look to: Coca-Cola. Have quick think about all the marketing you’ve ever seen stemming from this brand. Considering it’s a soft drink, it’s pretty incredible just how potent and far-reaching Coca-Cola’s brand is.
However, if you take a peek at their books, the sheer power of their brand starts to make little more sense. In 2010, the company invested $2.9billion in advertising. Three years later, this rose to $3.3billion. This year, the target has been $4.3billion. Muhtar Kent called this steady rise in the marketing budget “brand building initiatives”.
The strength of Coca-Cola’s marketing arm is nothing new, as I’m sure you can tell. From the product itself to the logo to the name, you and I know Coca Cola like the back of our hands. It’s fairly surprising then that they haven’t done anything to their logo design since the early 20th century.
That elegant signature font and vibrant red background are instantly recognisable all over the world. This is a key example of brand consistency getting brilliant results. Even with the company’s massive marketing budget, the influence of Coca-Cola would be impossible to achieve without their unwavering brand consistency.
Far from laziness and a lack of innovation, this kind of commitment is a strategic move, and some would say just as important as the secret recipe for the drink itself. Getting across this one message and persona is so important to Coca-Cola that they spend more on it than almost any corporation.
Every can, bottle, TV spot, billboard, and social media campaign follows the same branding formula, all so us, the consumer, will ask for a “coke” even though we know a restaurant only sells Pepsi.
So, Coca-Cola, forgetting that slip-up with “new coke”, has stuck to two principles; keeping the same formula and keeping the same brand identity. Seen as you’re reading this, I’ll assume that your marketing budget is a tad smaller than Coca-Cola’s. However, you can still take some leaves out of their book and use it to strengthen your brand.
By being consistent, you can manage the way your target market perceives your company. When you’re not changing your logo and the tone of your marketing material every month, it gives off an air of professionalism and stability.
Similarly, keeping your branding efforts consistent will reflect a positive outlook and attitude of you, the CEO. No matter what you’re selling, sticking to one tone and set of conventions will show that you’re serious and focussed about your mission statement.
From ads to product packaging to document templates, staying consistent gives the impression of a CEO who know what they’re doing. When you make consistency a priority, you’ll also be able to ensure you avoid the opposite of it; brand confusion.
For way too many companies, their branding efforts have become more of a crutch than anything positive. A strong brand should always lean more towards instilling confidence, rather than confusion.
If you’re sinking a lot of capital into your branding efforts, keeping consistent will also be one more way to protect your investment. There have been countless brands that invest thousands in their brand, only to watch it wasted through poor, clumsy application. In short, consistency means equity.
I’ll round this off with a few quick pointers. First of all, consistent doesn’t mean boring. Anyone on the Coke marketing team will attest to this. While you should keep certain things the same, it needs to be balanced out with a creative flair.
Once you’ve settled on what you want your brand to get across, you should make a point of writing out a standards guide for your brand. Include the logo, fonts, colour schemes, slogan and so forth.
Unless it’s simple and easily applicable, you won’t get the impact you’re going for. Just after the transition, assign some of your marketers as “brand police”, who are responsible for cracking down on any inconsistencies.