The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as "a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those other sellers."
While that definition may be written in "typical marketer speak", it is actually quite easy to understand. A brand differentiates itself from other brands by promoting itself in a unique, specialized, and consistent way. A brand must be all these things to stand out from the crowd, attract and retain loyal customers, and thus be successful.
When thinking about similar brands with similar price points and similar products (Burger King vs. McDonalds, Macy's vs. Dillard's, etc.), one must ask themselves if there is that much differentiation between any of them at all.
Is Starbucks really better than every other coffee chain around the world? Probably not. Regardless, it has legions of diehard fans who will come from far and wide to sip their iced coffee through a green straw, even if they live next door to a local coffee shop with essentially the same menu, price point, quality, and service standards.
We are surrounded by a multitude of these similar brands every day, whether we realize it or not. Every time you buy an item from a clothing store, you are a walking advertisement for their brand. Every time you snack on a bag of chips, you transform into a billboard promoting that company's products. And we can't forget to mention the endless television, radio, and print advertisements we see and hear each day.
If all brands are generally similar and all brands are frequently advertised (organically or through paid advertising) how do we choose which brands earn our loyalty, trust, and hard earned dollars?
Simple. It's the way the brand makes us feel.
As Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, said, "A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company." And this gut feeling determines our likes, dislikes, and most importantly, our brand loyalty.
This is where the importance of brand consistency comes into play.
A customer must experience the same positive feeling each time they interact with the brand to remain loyal. And brand loyalty is something that is invaluable in today's competitive environment. According to BIA/Kelsey, a loyal customer spends 67% more than a new customer. And "fully engaged" customers (those with a strong attachment to the brand) deliver a 23% premium over the average customer in share of wallet, profitability, and revenue (Cap Gemini).
A brand is wasting their time in trying to make their customers experience this gut feeling if they don't have a plan to ensure consistentcy across all their communications and locations. To keep a loyal customer and brand advocate, the positive feelings that a customer experiences during their first interaction with a brand (happiness, belonging, nostalgia, etc.) need to be present each time the customer interacts with a brand from there on out.
The consistency of a brand can make or break its image and alter how its customers perceive it. A brand must make it a priority to ensure that every part of the customer's experience is consistent, from wall graphics to floor graphics, marketing collateral font choices to service standards and staff interactions. In today's competitive business world, it is one of the best ways to keep loyal customers and ensure that they keep experiencing those positive gut feelings time and time again.
Thanks for reading. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your brand remain consistent and keep your customers loyal.