Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
This story originally appeared on Under30CEO.com
In the business world, having a consistent brand identity can set your enterprise apart from the competition. However, many companies grapple with a chaotic brand image that leaves customers unsure of their core identity.
By finally injecting your brand with some consistency at a planning level, you can finally give yourself an advantage that’s difficult for other competitors to match.
Why consistency matters
Everyone wants to talk about the “sexy” parts of branding – logo design, taglines, and color schemes. But flashy marketing doesn’t provide much value without consistency.
Brand consistency, which is essentially the degree to which your brand is what it says it is at all times, is vital for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
1. Recognition — For starters, a consistent brand is much more recognizable than one that makes things up as it goes. While you might not ever have the widespread recognizability of a Coca-Cola or Google, your commitment to brand consistency can give you recognition within your corner of the market. The more people see the same logos, colors, and messaging, the more they feel like they know your brand.
2. Credibility — A consistent brand helps build trust with your customers. If your brand delivers the same message and values across all touchpoints, it comes across as reliable and credible. On the contrary, inconsistent branding can lead to confusion and distrust.
3. Efficiency — Don’t underestimate the efficiency that consistency breeds. When you have defined guidelines of what to follow, it requires less time and effort to create new content or brand assets. Everything is in one place and is easy to find.
There are plenty of other benefits – including customer loyalty, professionalism, and carving out a competitive advantage over less organized and consistent competitors – but these three should be enough to convince you to get better at improving your consistency.
Practical ways to give your brand some consistency
The need for consistency is clear. The question is, what do you do with it? Here are several practical ways to begin giving your branding a little more consistency as you push toward a competitive advantage in this area.
1. Take inventory — The foundation of a strong, consistent brand lies in clearly defining your mission and vision. Your mission statement is a brief description of your business’s purpose and the value it brings to customers, while your vision statement is a forward-looking declaration of what you aim to achieve in the future. Ensuring that these two elements align not only provides a roadmap for your business strategy but also gives your brand a solid identity around which you can build a consistent brand image.
2. Establish a visual identity — Your brand identity runs deep. However, the surface-level stuff matters more than most brands realize. For example, your color palette should reflect your brand’s personality. Colors evoke emotions and associations, so you don’t want to mess this up. Blue gives off vibes of rust and reliability. Green is associated with sustainability and nature. Red is used for passion or urgency. Do your colors align with your identity?
3. Get clear on your voice —Treat your brand like a person. Think about its voice – and don’t deviate from that voice. To find and define your brand voice, consider your brand’s personality, mission, and target audience. Are you formal or casual? Serious or playful? Irreverent or respectful? Your answers to these questions will shape your brand voice. It’s important to keep this voice consistent in all communication to maintain a cohesive brand image.
4. Develop brand guidelines — Once you’ve taken some time to understand your brand and get clear on some of the key components, you’ll want to consolidate all of this information into a single document. We call these brand guidelines. To create your own set, start by outlining your mission, vision, and unique value proposition. Then, detail your visual identity, including your logo usage, color palette, typography, and imagery. Next, define your brand voice and provide examples of how it should be used across various platforms. Finally, consider including a section on what not to do to prevent misinterpretation.
Is this a comprehensive look at what it takes to develop a consistent brand? Absolutely not. But it is a great launching pad to help you build some momentum in the right direction. From here, you can further flesh out the details.
Putting It all together
Giving your brand some consistency takes work. It’s not something you can do overnight and forget about. It requires a steady, long-term commitment to get right. However, if you implement some of the tips outlined above, you’ll have a massive head start. Good luck!