How To Create A Consistent Brand Experience

No matter where you are, when you walk into the nearest Target store, you'll receive a similar experience. You'll see employees in red shirts and tan pants. You'll find the toy section in the back of the store and the company's iconic "bullseye" graphics on signage throughout.

When you walk into a Starbucks, you'll also experience consistency. You'll see specials highlighted on chalkboards. You can eye your favorite treats at the counter, from scones to cake pops. You can order your favorite beverage ahead of time and choose to have it ready when you arrive at the local store.

Target has more than 1,800 store locations in the U.S. and Starbucks has more than 8,000 U.S. locations, yet these iconic brands know how to deliver a consistent brand experience. You know what you're going to experience before you arrive at the store. This consistency is an important element to their brand strategies.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we continue our series on consistency with these brand consistency tips from Stacey Jackson, founder of Jackson Marketing Services.

Brand consistency is the pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company, says Jackson. The more consistent your messaging, the more consistent your branding — whether it's through words, design, offerings or perspective. Your brand should build awareness and develop trust and loyalty with customers. Every interaction customers have with your brand should embody the brand promises and values in a dependable and understandable way.

The first step in driving brand consistency is to create a create brand style and usage guidelines to ensure all messaging and brand asset use is on-point and consistent. These guidelines not only help the marketing department, they also serve as guides to other employees and departments. And above all, the guidelines should align with a company's vision and mission.

Once you've created your brand style and usage guidelines, then ensure these guidelines are followed consistently across all communications channels and touchpoints. Consider these tips:

1. Use your logo and design elements consistently and provide access to employees. Create a shared folder on your company network or intranet that provides employees with access to approved visual content and instructions on how to use them both on and offline. Develop a branded slide deck theme for your webinars and webcast video. Create social media cover photos for your employees who participate in employee advocacy programs. And, provide document templates and social sharing templates that help your team present a consistent brand look and feel online.

2. Select the right topics for your brand's content calendar. The topics you write about or produce webinars and videos around should be consistent with your brand's mission and goals. Look for opportunities to create content that makes sense for your brand. If your business serves a particular industry vertical or niche, for example, it's entirely appropriate to create blog content around key industry developments that affect your customers—especially when your company has expertise in or special insight on those issues.

3. Bring offline marketing events into your online branding efforts. If your company is exhibiting at a trade show, has received an award or is participating in a community event, let your online audience know. When your business or product is recognized as a leader or taking a leadership role in your industry or community, that's part of your brand-building efforts. Promote these efforts through blog posts, social media posts and video. Don't forget to add your brand name or logo to photos or videos that you share.

4. Keep your brand's tone and personality consistent across channels. When communicating as the brand offline or via your website, social media profiles or other online channels, it's important to keep a consistent tone and personality. If your brand is fun and friendly on Twitter, it should have a similar flavor on Facebook and LinkedIn. Your messaging on LinkedIn may be less casual or more professional, but it shouldn't sound like it's coming from a different brand altogether.

What procedures have you put in place to ensure a consistent brand presence in all your on and offline brand communications? Are your brand guidelines and brand personality documented? Consider adopting these tips to help your company build stronger brand consistency.

Source: Stacy Jackson is a digital marketing specialist with a passion for helping clients optimize their online presence to drive awareness and leads. She is a founder of Jackson Marketing Services, an editor and writer, and a regular contributor to the ClearVoice blog.

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