Confused customers buy nothing, and acquiring new customers can cost 25 times more than keeping existing ones. Brand consistency is the cure for such confusion, helping you to gain and retain customers. This is why brand consistency should be a top priority.
Here, we’ll look at brand identity, the importance of brand consistency, and discuss a few practical ways to create brand and franchise consistency by drawing on some examples from leading brands.
1. Train your employees well (and keep them happy)
Staff must be able to adequately answer customer questions and address their issue. If they can’t, it will reflect badly on your business, and diminish the customer experience.
Employees, especially those on the “frontline”, are continuously interacting with your customers. Few things are as off-putting to customers as unengaged employees. The more your employees are engaged, the more valued your customers will feel. But for employees to properly engage, they need to know what they’re doing, and why.
Employees that know your brand vision, values, goals, and expectations well, will have a clear idea of how this translates into marketing communications, products, and customer service—which will naturally lead to brand consistency.
Make sure your employees are happy and enjoy their working environment. This ensures better performance, leading to a higher level of employee engagement and customers who feel valued.
It’s essential to have a digital policy management playbook that can be deployed across your organization, containing policies, brand standards and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) employees can easily understand and follow. This will ensure your employees operate consistently across all locations, and provide your customers with an experience consistent with the brand itself.
2. Know your target audience
Instead of being all things to all people, do what you do “excellently”.
Effective brands don’t just target everyone everywhere, all the time. They have a specific target audience in mind. Not everyone can be your customer, and that’s perfectly fine.
Demographics play a key role in who your customers are, or will be. In other words, different age groups, genders, etc., have their own unique likes/dislikes, which ultimately influences which messages resonate with them and what they’ll buy. So, if you know exactly who to target, you can use your time and resources to market to that specific demographic, using a unique selling proposition (USP). If instead, you focus your advertising on baby boomers one year (for example), but on Gen Z’ers the next, you might confuse your customers. And in that case, you’re more likely to lose both target audiences, since they don’t associate extensively with one another.
3. Find your brand niche
Your brand mustn’t be too similar to your competitors. Otherwise, your potential customers might go to them instead, thinking it’s the same business. But at the same time, you shouldn’t be reinventing your brand every so often. As the years go by, the same logo, colors, or tagline might become boring to you, but these are the things that establish brand recognition in the minds of your consumers.
One example will suffice: Coca Cola. They have stayed true to their identity over the years, keeping their niche even while evolving with the times. Aim to find your niche in the market, the space that you can fill comfortably without competition getting in your way.
4. Be innovative (but not too much)
Innovation is good and your customers expect it, but if new products aren’t in line with the type of products already available, customers will be confused. Don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none—if you’re constantly churning out new products, customers will start doubting their quality. Rather opt for quality over quantity.
Don’t be tempted to go overboard and offer an endless amount of products—it might diffuse your customers’ interest, and can make it difficult for you to maintain consistency. Remember, inconsistency is the arch-enemy of operational excellence. In essence, having a variety of products is not a bad thing, per se. For one, it can keep things interesting for your customers. However, keep in mind that firstly, more products mean more management, which means more things can go wrong if you don’t have a dedicated and top-notch system in place.
No matter how many products you offer, having proper Product Lifecycle Management is the best way to get on top of product consistency. And secondly, be sure that the products you do offer, no matter how many, are consistent with your brand and theme.
5. Learn from franchises
As you would expect, franchise brand consistency is extremely important. Think of how challenging it is to maintain consistency in a single location, then imagine extending that to multiple locations. For franchises, brand consistency is important for two reasons.
First, it’s a way to improve the customer experience, making sure they get the same level of service and product quality no matter which location they visit. Secondly, franchises want potential business owners to buy the franchise name, and the only way their franchise will stand out is with impeccable brand consistency.
6. Manage products and services better, and stick to quality
As time passes and your business expands, it can become tempting to start cutting corners in an effort to save time and money. This can include dropping your reliable manufacturers in favor of cheaper ones, or outsourcing your services to an unreliable third-party provider.
If this sad reality comes to pass, your brand name might suffer immensely. It can even be worse than if someone drastically altered your logo, as it relates directly to product quality assurance and consistency.
You can counter this by setting up quality assurance procedures . This will enable you to regularly conduct audits and other quality assessments, which will in turn ensure your brand standards are held high, and stay there. That way, consumers will keep associating your products and services with a top-notch customer experience.
7. Walk in your customers' shoes
Brands need to understand their consumer, but they don’t always take enough time to think about how their customers interact with them. Take a walk through the customer journey and identify any potential problem points. See if there are areas that could potentially cause your customer to be confused or frustrated, and fix them. Think of how you can improve the experience your customers have every time they interact with your brand.
You want to know, among other things, whether your customers are satisfied, whether they are loyal, and whether they are likely to recommend your products and services to others. In other words, you need to track customer experiences and analyze customer lifecycles. Then, you need to use this info to improve the customer experience.
8. Centralize your systems
Much like your heart is the central part of your body from which vital blood flows, so too does a centralized technology solution ensure your brand standards, protocols, and other quality assurance measures are flowing through every part of your business.
The importance of a centralized digital platform for brand consistency cannot be emphasized enough. This is the only way you can really take charge of your brand. When policies, SOPs, checklists, audit requirements, and more are easily accessible and in one place—preferably on a digital platform—then everyone on your team will remain on the same page continuously, no matter where they are or what their job is.
This ensures brand consistency across all your outlets: you decide what constraints to put in place to ensure that proper guidelines are followed. A centralized platform also saves a tremendous amount of time: employees don’t have to constantly search between disparate systems for the info they need in order to do their job right.
Brand consistency and customer experience go hand in hand—there’s simply no other way. An excellent customer experience will have clients coming back. Better yet, they will actually advocate for your brand. There are many ways to create an excellent customer experience, and having a consistent brand is one of them. Remember: a consistent brand becomes a trustworthy brand.
When it comes to Brand Consistency, there are a few brands that just knock it out of the park. Think of Chick-fil-A, Firehouse Subs, and Buffalo Wild Wings—they understand the importance of brand consistency. They all use the CMX1 platform for maintaining brand standards, elevating operational excellence, and ensuring remarkable customer experiences.
The result: happy, satisfied customers.