One of the most important principles in marketing is brand consistency: defining what you stand for and sticking to it.
At Lenz, we define the three steps of brand building as follows:
- 1. A consistent message
- 2. In a variety of settings
- 3. Over a period of time
Here, we’ll focus on step one. So, why is consistency so important?
Consider politics. In the most recent presidential election, Mitt Romney faced some major difficulties winning supporters, even among those who were dissatisfied with President Obama. One fault voters found with Mr. Romney was his inconsistency. Early in the race, the opposition successfully labeled him a flip-flopper—a four-letter word in politics. Opposition ads depicting Romney’s inconsistent behavior did some major damage to his campaign. John Kerry suffered the same fate eight years earlier. The result for the two candidates was, of course, the same.
Now let’s apply this logic to business. If a brand changes what it stands for, or presents itself inconsistently, consumers will become disconnected, lose trust, and gravitate towards the competing brands that offer a consistent message.
When a company maintains the same message over time, its brand develops meaning and becomes ingrained in people’s memories. This is how customers are made. Consistency builds attraction, affinity, and loyalty.
A great example of consistent branding is our hometown hero, Coca-Cola. Coke is the King of Consistency. Its logo has remained relatively unchanged for the last 100 years. Its message is simple but it sticks: Coke is happiness. “Have a Coke and A Smile.” “Open Happiness.” “Enjoy.” “Life Tastes Good.” The slogans may change, but the message stays the same.
Of course, Coke’s archrival spends a lot of time changing its look and message…and launching taste tests. Meanwhile, Coke has Santa Claus, the Polar Bears, and a much stronger brand—due to its consistent message of happiness.
So think long and hard when defining your brand message. Make sure it is strong enough to stand the test of time and is used across a variety of settings. But most importantly, once you’ve settled on a message, commit to it and do not waver. Nobody likes a flip-flopper.