If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you’ve heard the marketing buzzword “branding.” Most of us think of our “brand” as our logo, marketing materials and marketing strategy. In reality, your company’s brand encompasses so much more — from your company values, culture and mission statement, to your public relations efforts and team member training. Our brands are really who we are, how our clients and prospective clients feel about us, and our overall image.
A fairly basic piece of marketing knowledge is that your brand needs to be consistent. I’m not simply referring to your advertising messaging; I’m talking about brand consistency at a deeper level.
Why is brand consistency so important?
First of all, it helps create “raving fan” repeat clients. When they view your company as a stable, dependable business where they know they’ll get great service with every interaction, you’re on the right path to creating a strong base of repeat clients. These are the clients who will write positive reviews and recommend you to their friends. So, not only does brand consistency contribute to developing raving fans, it also helps you attract new clients at a lower cost.
In addition, brand consistency builds trust and dependability. People do business with companies they know, like and trust, but in order to create that feeling, clients and prospective clients need to have multiple positive associations with your business. They can be a combination of advertising, public relations, written communications and actual in-person experiences.
Just one positive experience with your technician or one newsletter or one ad with a great message isn’t going to create trust, but the combination of those elements is what truly builds a powerhouse brand.
Brand consistency also will help minimize confusion in your client or potential client’s mind and make your company more memorable. When people are confused, they don’t know how to act (or in our case, who to call). If you have multiple marketing messages in your community, or if your techs aren’t trained in the same systems, clients will be confused by the fact that they aren’t having the same experience when they call you or aren’t seeing the same things from you.
Now that we’ve covered how crucial it is to pay attention to your overall brand, how can you go about creating a company that reaps the benefits of consistency throughout all areas?
1. Understand your clients.This includes demographics, wants and needs. Know the zip codes and neighborhoods where your clients are living. What is the average income level you are targeting? What is their typical age? Understand their lifestyles, thought processes and habits. The language and images you use in your marketing should speak to your clients so specifically that they feel like you understand them.
2. Stay in contact. In today’s world, there are so many ways to stay in contact. You never know when people will need to call your company, so your name needs to be at the top of their minds. Monthly newsletters are a great way to do this but provide newsletters that offer real value to them, with interesting content they actually want to read each month.
Social media and email marketing also are great, cost-effective ways to stay in touch. Ideally, you should be integrating multiple strategies, combining different ways to make sure you aren’t being forgotten.
3. Create “brand ambassadors.” Recently, The Lovely Christy and I were looking for a place to eat dinner in a town we’d never visited. There weren’t many options, so we decided to take a chance on a pizza place that had gotten good reviews (an important way to gain trust in your brand). It turned out to be a franchise that is experiencing huge growth. We could see why as we started interacting with one of its team members.
She was telling us about how great the crust is, how fresh the ingredients are and how much she loves the company. She was a “brand ambassador,” selling the brand without being sales-y. She embodied the excitement and vision the brand was trying to convey, and enhanced our experience as clients. I think the pizza actually tasted better because of the way she talked about the ingredients and the company!
Help your team members get excited about who they are working for and remind them about why you are an incredible company — from the quality of equipment you use, to the guarantees you offer, to the positive impact you have on the community. Every team member that you employ is a vehicle for communicating what your brand and company are all about.
4. Maintain a consistent look and message.This is what many people think of when they hear the term “branding.” This is a crucial aspect of brand consistency, just not the only important piece. Take a step back and really examine everything you’re doing. Are there any outdated logos on forms or marketing pieces? Do all your forms include your logo, slogan and maintain a consistent color scheme? From your business cards to your billboards, every part of your message needs to look, feel and be consistent.
For example, consider Apple’s brand. Its sleek, modern products have a very cohesive look and design elements, but it’s not just about what the product is, it’s also the feeling that people get and how clients relate to the brand. Apple’s customers connect with the brand, the innovation it represents and the image it portrays. Its customers are loyal, but they also expect complete brand consistency. When a new product comes out, they know it will be user-friendly, cutting-edge and fun.
Think about the message your company is putting out there. Is it boring, bland and inconsistent, or are you creating a great experience that is memorable and enjoyable for your client? A strong, stable, laser-focused brand encompasses everything from how your team members are trained, to your mission statement, to your advertising and public relations efforts.
I hope you can see that brand consistency is so much more than a pretty logo and shiny marketing flyers. It’s about everything you do representing you and your company in the way you desire. Your brand should embody your personality, values and goals, and when it does, your business will be in a great place to experience massive growth.