Think of the most successful brands in the world, the brands featured in Times Square, the brands you keep going back to time and again when you’re online shopping. What do they have in common? Often, the best brands are the embodiment of a single quality. For example, Google is synonymous with search; Nike with greatness; and Apple with innovation and simplicity. How did these characteristics become so closely identified with these particular brands? Consistency.
These brands have been able to build distinctive identities because they have been working to shape them for many years. Nike, for example, has sponsored the greatest players in many sports for a generation and a half. First, it was Michael Jordan, now it’s LeBron James.
When we consider these brands, we often don’t think of their logo or tagline, but of a memory, a picture, a commercial, or a moment that solidified that connection in our minds. For instance, you may remember Steve Jobs’ first presentation of the iPhone in 2007 and how innovative and simple it was compared to other cell phones. For Nike, you may recall Tiger Woods sinking a putt wearing his “Sunday Red” or Serena Williams acing a serve wearing their apparel. These companies have effectively connected their brand to a core idea through consistent, effective, and memorable visuals.
Identify an Identity
Notice that these brands aren’t known for many traits; they're known for one or, in the case of Apple, two. All their branding, marketing, and content build towards a basic concept or what is known as a “brand identity.” For Apple, Google, and Nike, this identity is tied to the idea they want their brand to be synonymous with. For other organizations, their brand identity is built around their core values, their mission statement, or a feeling. Disney, for example, has built its brand around the feeling of childlike wonder. When it realized that this feeling isn’t exclusive to children, it expanded its appeal to adults by purchasing Marvel and the rights to Star Wars.
Your brand identity should be whatever idea genuinely guides your organization and is powerful enough to drive consumer decisions. Both components are vital to creating an effective brand identity. If your brand identity is authentic to your business, it can be as specific or general as necessary to build real-world loyalty in your target market. Work with your leadership team and stakeholders from essential departments to lock in your desired brand identity. This process takes time and effort and may require doing market research or employee surveys, but it will pay off in the long run.
Consistency is King
In a survey of 200 organizations concerning brand consistency, Lucidpress and Demand Metric found that “Less than 10% report that their brand presentation is very consistent, but almost 90% agree that it is important to present their brands consistently in all the places people might encounter them.” Clearly, most marketers agree that consistency is important. But what does consistency mean when it comes to branding? How can you and your team ensure that consumers see a cohesive presentation of your brand identity that's compelling enough to lock it into their brains and build loyalty?
The first component of brand consistency is referenced above as “brand presentation.” This basically means the way a brand presents itself externally. Consistent brand presentation is the result of content, messaging, and actions that all convey the same message or give the same impression. In other words, everything an organization shares should say the same thing about who it is and what it cares about. Imagine how confusing it would be if a third-string pitcher was suddenly featured in a Nike ad about greatness.
The second component of brand consistency is the amount and frequency of the content it shares in the marketplace. Does it regularly post content on all the channels important to its target audience? If so, is that content posted at the same time and day? If Geico or Progressive never ran ads or ran them only occasionally, would they have the brand awareness and loyalty they do?
Putting Consistency into Practice Internally
These examples of consistency may seem simple, but there's a reason that less than 10% of the organizations surveyed by Lucidepress and Demand Metric feel they hit these goals: they can be difficult to put into practice. Why is that? The results of the survey give some insight as to why brands struggle with consistency. One problem is that while 95% of organizations report having brand guidelines, only 25% have ones that are enforced. This means that content isn’t regulated and off-brand content sometimes makes its way to the market, confusing consumers, and breaking trust.
In fact, 60% of the surveyed organizations reported that marketing materials are often or sometimes created that break brand guidelines. This may be why 71% of organizations described experiencing confusion in the market regarding their brand, leading to a 23% decrease in their revenues compared to brands that presented themselves consistently. This data shows that consistency has real-world implications for your organization’s bottom line and is worth investing time and effort to fix.
The problem won’t be solved only by shoring up your brand guidelines, however. While it’s a good place to start, it’s future-focused. What about all the off-brand content already sitting on your servers, hard drives, or shared cloud drives? If your employees can't easily find and share the on-brand, approved materials they need, they may resort to using ones that already exist. Housing all your organization’s creative and marketing assets in one place such as a digital asset management (DAM) platform, and protecting them with permissions and approval processes can prevent this. It will also allow you to easily maintain consistency across all channels and time periods.
Placing all your assets in a single location that integrates with the other systems you use for channel management can also ensure that on-brand content goes out on the right channels, in the right format, at the right time. DAM platforms make it easy to manage different versions and formats of the same assets, as well as implement metadata, permissions, and integrations to ensure the right content finds its way to the marketplace at the right time.
Digital asset management programs require time, money, and effort to implement effectively, but they can also power and drive consistency across your organization’s marketing efforts. That consistency is the secret to strong brand identity and (at least) 23% more revenue towards your growth goals. Don’t try to put a band-aid on these problems if your team struggles to produce or use on-brand assets. Take the time to build an understandable and easy-to-use (and enforce) system for producing and managing content.
If you need guidance with these efforts, whether it’s learning more about how digital asset management can help your organization grow and scale or finding the right DAM platform, Stacks can help! Check out the rest of our blog and our case studies to learn more about how other brands have benefited from a robust DAM program, or contact us directly. We would love to talk with you and be a resource for your team.