Ever stop and wonder what makes a brand like Coca-Cola one of the most recognized English words in the world?
Think I’m just blowing smoke? I’m not.
Coca-Cola, along with their original and still most popular product “Coke” are equally considered the second most popular words on the planet, next to the word okay or “OK” as it’s often spelled.
Coca-Cola achieved this top brand status with years of clever marketing, through a variety of media channels (CEO Ahmet Muhtar Kent expects 2016 marketing spend to surpass 4.3 billion by end of year).
Case Study: Consistency the key to Coke’s success
The real thing that makes the brand so darned iconic and recognizable is that same simple logo they’ve used since Frank Mason Robinson created it back in 1885. The logo’s Spencerian script font, clear white text, and bright red background are unmistakable and well known by people of all ages.
Note: Coca-Cola is one of the best examples of unwavering brand consistency I can think of! Please leave a comment if you can think of an even better example to share with your fellow readers!
Here are a few things that consistency helps control when growing and maintaining a brand:
- Confirms the brand is professional and driven to achieve its purpose and social commitments.
- Shows how focused and intentional the company is to achieving its goals and maintaining standards.
- Avoids issues resulting from people confusing your brand with others in similar industries, or those possessing the same or similar name as yours.
- Manages perceptions: Sticking to brand values and maintaining a consistent image in the public eye will shape the way people see the brand, during the good times and also the not-so-good times.
- Builds more brand equity in the long run – as the brand gains traction, your name and logo will become synonymous with trust and value and opportunities to leverage that value will eventually come your way.
- Ensures consumers know what to expect each time they do business with you – what level of service and quality they’ll get in exchange for their money, and how your brand compares with others (ie., Coke vs. Pepsi; Ford vs. Chevrolet; Hyatt vs. Hilton, etc.)
Consistency isn’t just something a lasting brand strives for, or something you try once in a while to change things up; consistency is an essential element to any brand’s growth and longevity.
How to maintain your brand consistency: 5 tips
Without further ado, here’s 5 crucial tips for helping to keep your brand solid and consistent:
1. Don’t get fooled into thinking consistency is boring
Do you find Coke, or Apple, or Virgin Records boring? All these brands and most of the rest at the top, middle, and bottom of the heap all regard consistency as one of their top 3 secrets to success and longevity.
2. Strive for brand consistency – collectively
The easiest way to keep team members on the same page is to ask them what companies they admire/love most and why. Do this regularly at team meetings and you’ll find all kinds of examples of consistency shaping your employee’s overall perceptions of the brands they mention.
Regardless of who in the company is involved with the early stages of brand building, everyone needs to understand what’s considered proper use of company taglines, social profiles, forum accounts, logos and other graphics, and anything else that directly affects brand consistency.
3. Make a “Branding Style Guide”
There’s no hard-and-fast as to what should be included in a branding style guide. They will vary a lot from one company to the next. This guide will basically be a go-to bible for people in the company when it comes to what’s deemed “fair and acceptable” use of your brand and branding materials.
Here is the basic information you want to include:
- Company Name: What’s in a name? In business, it means a lot! Tell people how to address you and your team.
- Mission Statement: Let your employees and clients know what drives your company forward.
- Company Slogan: Smart slogan is a branding in itself – include it whenever you mention your brand name.
- Logo Design(s) and what/when/where each rendition is used: Brand consistency starts with design material consistency – starting from your logo.
- Color Schemes you use: Include as much detail about color usage as it relates to your brand.
- Typography: What fonts and overall writing style you use in your blog content, press releases, emails, sales copy, sales agreements, etc.
- Imagery and Photo Styles: How should these look to the market? Under what circumstances are different styles used (ie., warm/cool, saturation levels, feelings they should evoke, etc.
- Copy Guidelines: The more details the better about capitalization of letters in the brand name/brand material, and specific circumstances and locations in certain content to put trademarks, affiliations, slogans, disclaimers, etc.
- Potential and known examples of what the company considers poor use of the brand: Such as employees using inappropriate language while signed into company social and other online profiles.
All employees must get a paper copy and have cloud access to the guide as needed.
4. Give full access to all branding materials
Everyone on the team who distributes branding material needs full file access to all logos, graphics and other branding materials. The last thing you need is a branding faux-pas because someone had to tinker out their own rendition of a critical branding graphic such as the company logo.
5. Designate an in-house “branding police squad”
You can’t do it all. Few SME owners have the time and resources they need to monitor how your brand name and branding materials are distributed and used. And you shouldn’t have to, it’s likely you have everyone you need already to form your own little in-house brand police squad.
Find the needle-in-the-haystack types who work for you and encourage them to call people out when they see something that goes against your official branding style guide. Also, encourage them to touch base with you to add and/or change rules found in the guide as you continually strive to build and maintain the brand.
Brand consistency is something you’ll have to persistently strive for as the years tick on and the company grows.
If you make daily use of the 5 tips mentioned on this page, fewer branding nightmares will take place and you’ll never have to worry about your company being mistaken or lumped into the same category as the competition.
This article was partially inspired after reading this great oldie-but-goodie about the power of consistency in entrepreneurship on Inc dotcom.