It takes time, effort and thought to create a brand for your business and nothing will help you solidify your business’s brand like consistency.
Branding is all about linking what a consumer actually gets when making a purchase from a business to how a consumer feels, the visuals they think of and the message that is delivered. Let’s look at Starbucks for example. What does Starbucks sell? Simply put, it’s a cup of coffee. And if we’re being honest, it’s really not the world’s best coffee. But they sell it, and they sell a lot of it. In fact Starbucks is a perfect example of branding done right. They have a logo that has undergone very little change, in fact, the Siren has only been updated four times in 43 years, each time, carefully enough to keep familiarity close at hand. Starbucks’ taglines and messages are also very clear and concise and the fonts that they use are consistent throughout their print materials, stores and web presence. Finally, Starbucks has mastered the feeling it wants it’s consumers to have. So effectively, in fact, that it is front and center when deciding on a meeting place- from business people to mom’s groups and having one of their paper or plastic cups in hand feels more prestigious than a cup from any other coffee shop.
Branding success like this can only come from consistency.
When creating any content for your business, if you create consistency in your work, you too, will have more success branding your business. What does this look like in practice?
- Fonts: Choose your fonts and stick to them. Do not change the font you use from piece to piece. Your customers need to see the font on the page (or screen) and know that it’s you. Do not have so many different fonts that it is confusing, distracting or cluttered feeling.
- Logo: Design your logo and stick to it. The most successful businesses make little to no change in their logos over decades of business, (think McDonalds, Starbucks, Chevron, GE). Take their lead. Spend the time making sure that you love your logo before you print a thousand menus. Once it’s release to the public, you want them to become familiar with it and link it to your business automatically. That can’t happen if your logo is getting a facelift every few months.
- Tag lines: Your message needs to be consistent. Again, breeding familiarity with your customers. Make sure that all of the content that you put out into the world, whether in physical form or on the web is consistent. Don’t say, “Music, great food and a fun hangout” on your menus, but on your website say, “Great food, music and a fun hangout” or “Great music, food and a fun hangout”. Pick your words carefully, choose the order carefully. Repeat frequently and exactly. If you keep changing your words that advertise what you provide, you will confuse your audience. If you are an auto repair shop, do not put “Affordable repairs, maintenance and friendly service” in one place and then “Affordable repairs, maintenance and tires” somewhere else. Consistency in message. Always.
- Feeling: You are not just selling a product or a service. You are selling a feeling. Decide what feeling you want to be associated with your business and products/services and then work hard to make sure that you are providing that feeling in your store, on your website, in your advertising and marketing materials. You are not selling “upscale” if you are serving coffee from Styrofoam cups. You are not selling “friendliest place in town” if a live person doesn’t answer your phone with a smile, if your customers are not being greeted warmly and by name, when possible. You are not selling “trustworthy” if appointments are scheduled incorrectly on a regular basis, if prices are changing for no reason, if quality is inconsistent. What feeling are you selling? Make sure it’s the feeling you want your customers to have.
- Remember, you cannot be everything to everyone. Choose your target customer and prepare your content with them in mind. If you cross over into other demographics while speaking to your key audience, great! But your focus should be your target customers, so don’t get derailed and pollute your message content trying to reach everyone.
Branding is about telling your customers who you are and what you sell. Keep your message consistent and on point to have branding success.