If you’ve ever wondered what the culture and personality of your company looks like to your customers and your potential customers then you need look no further than your brand; the coalescence of your look, your feel, your tone of voice and your key messages are wrapped up inside your brand and the consistency of your imagery, your content and what you say to the world is what brand consistency is all about.
Why is brand consistency so critical?
These days there is an onus on digital content; it’s everywhere from our blog posts, through our (hopefully) viral videos and scattered across our multitude of social media channels. The messages we put out, the image we convey and the personality we have created for our business is out there, all the time, sending signals to our audiences. The danger lies in the very nature of this approach.
As more and more of our staff, team members, friends and third party agencies are creating content to put on our blogs and social media profiles, so there is the growing potential that the message we want put out is confused, the tone of voice often different and the effect can be confusing for our audience and potential customers as they struggle to figure out who we are and what we stand for. Our brand is supposed to engender loyalty, trust and awareness amongst our target audiences and without a focused approach to the digital expression of ourselves we are at risk of alienating potential customers, fans and followers. Here are a few ways to mitigate this risk:
Establishing clear brand guidelines
Regardless of the size of your company you need to set a clear set of guidelines for how your brand consistency is going to be maintained across the variety of staff, design agencies and PR organizations who might have responsibilities for creating and distributing company content of any type. These brand style and usage guidelines should make sure that the editorial voice, the use of brand design assets such as your logo, brand specific color scheme and even font styles are consistent.
Creating access to consistent assets
Alongside the brand design and usage guidelines that you have created and distributed to achieve brand consistency it’s imperative that you manage a repository of all the digital assets that can and should be used. A digital asset management (DAM) system is a software solution that allows you to collate all of these assets and manage access, usage and distribution to the right people, both in-house and remotely. Not only will this allow you to keep all of your team members organized and with the right administrative access to the right resources, it also means you can ensure that your brand guidelines are being adhered to.
A great idea is to populate your DAM system with design assets specific to their potential usage. For example you could create templates to ensure consistency is met across social media profile creation, or logos produced at sizes specific to their usage such as social media, blog posts or even direct media and printed materials. Take a look at Brandfolder for a great example of this sort of digital asset management solution.
Align your brand appropriately
Another key element of ensuring a consistent approach to your branding efforts is to make sure you align your brand appropriately. For example, when it comes to deciding what social media platforms to establish a presence on try to be strategic about it. Just because a competitor is using Instagram, does that mean it’s the right platform given your company culture? Does the platform match the audience profile you’re trying to reach or will it confuse your target audience and waste your precious marketing time and budget? Similarly, when you are targeting the influencers who you would hope to become brand advocates and fans of the content you distribute, are you keeping your target influencer list consistent with your brand? With influencers and the places that you appear it’s important to think about whether they compliment and enhance your brand or whether they may misrepresent your brand and if your target audience don’t hang out in these locations or listen to these influencers then you may be investing your efforts distinctly off-brand.
If you create a clear set of guidelines for your brand, ensure that the right people have access to the right content and that the assets are well managed and adhere to your brand guidelines. Curate your locations and influencers with care, then you should be able to maintain a consistent and effective brand.