We’re returning to our ‘brand basics’ blog series today, which guides you through some of the fundamental building blogs of creating, maintaining and evolving an appropriate and compelling brand for your IoT business.
Today, we’re considering a frequently-neglected yet crucial part of business branding – how to ensure consistency, especially as you grow.
Why is brand consistency important?
A huge amount of any brand’s strength is drawn from its consistency across a range of channels. An audience that engages with the same look and feel, the same tone of voice, the same core messaging across text and visuals, in person and online, audio and video, comes to recognise that brand as a single entity. In turn, this means that every engagement with that brand reinforces the same core message, rather than mixed or even contradictory ones. A person who has previously engaged with your brand on social media draws on that same experience when they come across your brand in-person at an event.
Inconsistent brands can, in worst case scenarios, damage the business’s overall reputation. They can confuse customers, who don’t know which message is the most authentic or up-to-date one. They can make the company look sloppy or out of touch. And do people really want to buy from a sloppy or out of touch company?
Why do businesses struggle with brand consistency?
There are several scenarios in which businesses struggle with brand consistency, but they are nearly all to do with something that is a good thing – business growth.
In one scenario, business growth leads to the development of new products or services, but business leaders are unsure of how to incorporate these into the original brand vision and statement. In another, business growth leads to recruitment, but those new staff members are not thoroughly educated in the original brand, and accidentally ‘go rogue’ when it comes to developing their own lines of communication. In a third scenario, business growth leads to an expansion of marketing and communications activity into new channels – a series of corporate videos, perhaps, or new social media accounts – but business leaders are unsure of how to translate their original brand vision into these new media.
All situations are very common and utterly understandable – but you will save your business a lot of time, money and potential headaches further down the line if you can avoid making them.
How can you avoid making the same mistakes?
The systems and processes needed to maintain brand consistency are very simple. Here are the main things we think you need to consider:
Brand guidelines documentation
This is particularly important when it comes to graphic design elements like your logo and any corporate colours or fonts. Your designer should supply all these with universal reference points like pantone references and clear guidelines on usage such as the smallest size your logo should be reproduced in. Any reputable designer should supply you with these materials as a matter of course when carrying out a branding project.
Business description for new employees
All new employees should be issued with the same, centralised and universal description of your business, what it does and what its key vision is. This does not have to be external-facing messaging – it might never leave your company HQ – but it does need to be the same for every staff member. Everyone in your team, no matter how junior, needs to have the same core understanding of what your business is.
Internal communications plan
Any time an aspect of your company’s brand changes – whether it is a tiny detail on the font used for the business name, to a major overhaul of your product portfolio – it needs to be communicated consistently to the entire staff body. Ideally, you should have a branding communications plan built into your annual calendar, so that even when such changes haven’t taken place, there is a scheduled opportunity to refresh everyone on the principles of your brand as it stands.
Interested in this brand basics topic? Why not take a look at some of the other blogs in the series? If you’re right at the start of your branding journey, this blog on what to consider before you begin is a logical place to start. If you’re a bit further along, we’ve also explored how you can learn more about developing the look and feel of your brand, and looked at how you can develop a consistent and engaging tone of voice.
Branding really can make the difference between business success and failure, especially in the early days of your IoT venture. It pays to get it right.