Certain elements are critical to every successful marketing strategy, no matter how large or small your business is. Some are obviously more important than others, like having a unique selling proposition, but others might not seem critical at first glance. Consistency is one of them, especially if you're engaging in marketing across different media, like radio, TV, print, digital, and more. In today's blog post, we'll take a snapshot look at the importance of brand consistency in your marketing and how you can ensure you’re doing it right.
What We Mean by Consistency
Quite simply, your brand is your company's identity, and any time a customer interacts with your brand, they build a bigger impression about what your company is all about, what you offer, and what your brand stands for. Brand consistency is your way to ensure that every time the customer encounters your brand, it's recognizable. It should be easy for the customer to note or recall brand values and promises dependably. That means it plays a role in what channels you utilize and how you build frequency across those channels, as well as how you develop your message and express your CTAs.
Consider Sprint's 2016 campaign where they go head to head with Verizon. Every commercial features Paul Marcarelli (previously recognized as the "Verizon Guy") as the central figure, includes the message that a 1% difference in service isn't worth paying twice the price, and utilizes the catch phrase to rebut the popular Verizon phrase of year's past, "Can you hear that?" The ads are featured across both digital and other airwaves, including radio.
So why is consistency in your marketing so important?
At a minimum, consistency is a vital way to build brand awareness. By always using the same colors, logos, jingles, catch phrases, and/or actors and voices, you can give customers tangible concepts to attach to your brand. A fantastic example is Progressive's campaigns utilizing the character Flo. She has a signature look (retro hair flip, bright red lipstick, crisp white uniform prominently displaying the blue Progressive logo), a recognizable voice, and she utilizes the key message featured in most ads (e.g., "Name Your Price"). These are featured across channels, whether it's video (TV and online), radio, display, or billboards. She's become so iconic that she doesn't even necessarily need to be in the ad to evoke the same level of awareness.
If you don’t have the same marketing budget as Progressive, don’t worry! This can be done even on a smaller scale in your local market. By not having drastically different messaging, colors, voices, and style of your ads, you can ensure consistency across different media and ultimately increase your frequency.
Consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity builds trust. You want your brand to be the first to come to mind when a need pops up, and for the association to be overwhelmingly positive. To return to the Sprint example above, Verizon had previously capitalized on Marcarelli's down to earth friendliness to humanize their brand. Along with that memorable catch phrase, Marcarelli's Verizon Guy built trust in that brand. Sprint's campaign turns this on its head, in turn capitalizing on the public's trust in Marcarelli to make it seem as though Verizon isn't as great as it claims to be and that Sprint is the better, more affordable choice.
Do this in your own marketing by not only being consistent in your branding, but also using familiarity to your advantage. If you’re talking to a certain geographic audience, maybe reference things in that town. You can also find ways to connect with your audience so that they are more familiar with your brand when they step foot in your store. This is powerfully done when family members of a company, or loyal customers, are featured in an ad.
Differentiates Your Brand
Being heard above the advertising noise is important, and consistency helps a customer understand what differentiates your brand from the rest, especially when you focus on your USP. A unique selling point (or proposition) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors, such as the best quality, lowest price, or the only product of its kind. A USP could be thought of as “what you have that competitors don't.” Take Walmart and Target as an example. They're both powerful retailers with similar concepts and similar slogans, but they're easy to immediately tell apart, both in store and in their ads. Walmart focuses on customers' desire to save money with its "Save Money. Live Better." slogan and signage focused on "everyday low price" guarantees. On the other hand, Target emphasizes quality over price with its "Expect more. Pay less." slogan and its regular use of famous designers. The slogans are easy to remember, and customers will instantly know which store they're listening to a commercial for just by the word choice.
Having a strategically chosen brand (including your tagline, colors, style, and so forth) is what can ensure you are different from your competition.
Frequency is another of the core marketing elements that every brand needs to thoroughly develop, and consistency is one of the ways to build and improve that element. Consider the billboard example from Progressive we mentioned above. The slogan is different and plays to the sign's placement (a toll booth), yet Flo is immediately evocative of all the TV ads where she emphasizes that Progressive will help you save, even when they're not the cheapest, as well as its "Name your price" slogan regularly featured in radio ads. In an omnichannel world, the billboard, TV ad, and radio ad each build on the frequency of Progressive's message and strengthen its positioning as a trustworthy, affordable choice.
These are just the core reasons for why you should ensure consistency in your marketing. The impact of consistency on your ROI, especially if you utilize more than one type of media in your marketing, is simply too great to miss out on. Be sure to start working consistency into your strategy immediately.