What brand consistency can do for your small business
And why you need to care
Have you ever noticed that all of the Old Navy television commercials and online promotional videos all have the same look and feel? How about the mailers that you receive from Staples, Office Max, or Best Buy? They’ll feature different products each week, but have you ever noticed how consistent their look? Is this an accident or just a company being cheap? Neither.
Big companies know the power of establishing a consistent, recognizable brand image. Now you probably don’t have a business the same size of a Best Buy – doesn’t matter, you’ll still reap the benefits of establishing a business brand by keeping your business image and brand consistent. Whether it’s an online marketing video, web blog, direct mail campaign, etc., there are inherent benefits in keeping your business image consistent.
1.    I’ve found four main hurdles that typically keep a company from keeping a brand consistent:
2.    The company isn’t comfortable or confident in the brand – they might not like it
3.    The company elected to buy a quick, inexpensive brand with the idea of adding on later. Instead of making the initial investment in a professional brand, the company is in constant update mode.
4.    The company is attempting to create the brand from in-house people (perhaps the owner her/himself or an inexperienced designer), who haven’t studied how to create a strong, consistent business brand
The company jumps from one marketing consultant or brand expert to another, which can cause rifts in their brand consistency.
Advertising agencies would like you to believe that you have to keep your advertising, your marketing message and your image up-to-date, fresh and always looking different, “Never run the same ad twice.” Bogus.
Did you know that it often takes your ad or marketing material at least three views or impressions (and as many as nine) by a prospect before she/he even pays attention to it?
So you don’t need to radically change your advertising every time you run an ad.
Admittedly, there are clear-cut instances that require you need to change things up, but businesses as a whole have often been duped into thinking that they have to change their marketing, advertising and brand image almost as much as they change their pants. Not true. Augmenting your marketing efforts is fine, but changing for the sake of changing isn’t necessary (and it’s wasteful and ineffective).
So how can you capitalize on this? You first need a personal and memorable brand. Hire a professional to do this for you. A unique effective business brand is the catalyst that starts everything off. Make sure all of your marketing is capitalizing on your brand, and that you’re establishing a consistent and cohesive business image. An experienced marketer/designer can do this for you. Once you’ve invested in a unique, professional business brand that’s working for you, here are the benefits you can expect to reap (this is what having a consistent brand can do for you):
You’ll receive your future marketing and design projects much faster. The initial small business brand always takes the longest. You should be amazed at how fast a designer can turn your projects around if she/he has designed a professional brand image for you.
It’s more cost effective. The designer won’t have to reinvent the wheel in coming up with a totally new look and feel, so it will take less labor hours. When you work with an experienced designer, she/he will build the cost savings right in, and you’ll see your costs going down per project.
Credibility through consistency. Prospects can experience apprehension in working with a company that can’t seem to pick a direction with their business brand—they often get confused and assume the company can’t make up their mind. Conversely, consistency leads prospects to conclude that the company is confident, stable, and yes, credible.
With all of the distractions out there, it will take a few times of people seeing your consistent brand before it sinks in (called impressions). On average, you’ll need to make at least three consistent brand impressions on a prospect before she/he recognizes your brand and takes notice. Staying the course and being consistent will eventually lead to having a recognized, familiar business brand.
An interesting phenomenon happens: prospects feel that if they’ve seen something enough, if it’s being advertised enough it must be good. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.
What happens if you don’t have consistency with your business brand and marketing?
* You lose credibility
* You appear undecided and confused to prospects
* Prospects think you can’t make your mind up, look unstable
* You look like you haven’t been in business very long
The bottom line for smart business owners
* Building a solid, recognizable brand doesn’t happen overnight
* You’ve heard the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out”? The rule applies to your small business brand. To get everything you can out of your brand, make sure that a creative professional creates it.
* Realize that having a professional brand designed is an investment, not an expense: Jeffrey Fox writes in Marketing Superstar, “Brand names are intellectual assets, often more valuable than tangible assets…Treat great brand names like great paintings; great brands are priceless.
Make sure your marketing consultant or brand expert knows the power of the building a consistent brand across your marketing. To get a bird’s eye view as to whether your business brand is consistent and professional, gather all of your materials and line them up on a table and or view them online. Ask yourself if they consistent and cohesive?
Watch for signs that indicate you have an inconsistent brand image. If you find things need some help, consider bringing in a marketing agency, ad agency, or video production company.
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