As more and more companies seek to make their mark in front of an international audience, knowing how to maintain brand consistency has never been more critical.
If you are unsure why global brand consistency is so important, the following statistics provide a fitting answer:
- 20% – the increase in worth attributed to companies with consistent brands over those with an inconsistent identity
- 23% – the growth in revenue among companies that present a consistent brand across all channels
- 10% – the rise in salaries paid by businesses with poor company-wide branding
- 90% – how many consumers expect a consistent brand experience
- 5 – how many more times consistent brands are likely to achieve strong visibility over inconsistent competitors
Maintaining global brand consistency directly affects what your audiences (both external and internal) think about your company. In many ways, it’s your greatest difference-maker – the path to developing a tangible trust and loyalty between your customers and your business, its products and its services.
Understanding the value of maintaining brand consistency
A consistent brand identity achieves significant benefits:
- It demonstrates that your brand is professional and driven to achieve its aims
- It establishes that you are authentic in your vision and ambitions
- It clarifies what your company stands for and what you offer to your audiences
- It bolsters the trust and familiarity between your audience and your brand
- It gives your global teams a shared identity and direction to move toward
- It helps build up your brand equity against your competitors
- It makes things simple and prevents misinterpretations of your brand
However, how you maintain brand consistency is easier said than done. With so many channels being utilised to communicate content, and the capacity for all employees to share your brand on these same channels, inconsistencies can naturally creep in if you’re not careful or lack a clear brand strategy.
Remember – on average it takes 5 to 7 interactions with a brand for a customer to develop a familiarity with it. This depends on the message being consistent throughout, otherwise it can create a disconnect or lead to confusion over what your company stands for. Needless to say, these are not traits of a strong brand identity.
This can be problematic for a small, domestically-focused business – when you expand to a global scale, the risk of brand inconsistency increases dramatically. There are naturally differences in culture and language that need to be accounted for, which if not handled correctly can result in your message being mistranslated or causing a risky faux pas.
You might be familiar with some of these precise examples of poor brand consistency:
- Braniff Airlines incorrectly translating their “fly in leather” slogan into “en cuerno”, which for their Spanish-speaking audiences was slang for “fly naked”;
- KFC’s first forays into the Chinese market resulted in their “finger-lickin’ good” slogan being presented as “eat your fingers off”;
- And when the Jolly Green Giant was marketed in Arabic, he became the “Intimidating Green Ogre”
And while mistranslations and cultural appropriations stand to damage your pursuit of global brand consistency (and your reputation in these markets), they are just the tip of the iceberg. Marketing to a global audience means creating more and more assets than ever before – the greater the volume, the more likely it will be for inconsistencies to appear in your various markets.
Whether this is the result of human error, miscommunication, poor planning or the interpretations of the agencies you work with internationally, it can result in your messaging in one or more markets being distorted. And, with the world more “global” than ever before, inconsistency in a single market can have a glaring impact on your worldwide reputation.
So, with the stakes as high as they have ever been, how can companies maintain brand consistency on their global stage?
How to maintain brand consistency – your brand consistency checklist
1. Assess your existing brand materials
First, it is critical to assess the current brand materials you have circulating at present. What do they say about your business? Do they present the colours, fonts, patterns, messages and more that you associate with your brand? If not, where do they differ?
This is the initial step in identifying whether you have an existing problem presenting your marketing assets consistently to your audience. While that doesn’t make the remainder of our steps less important to follow, a visual representation of where your brand identity is departing from what it should be.
2. Develop brand guidelines
Establishing brand guidelines as part of your overarching brand strategy is essential, as it defines exactly what you want your company’s identity, vision and personality to be. Incorporating important elements like:
- Brand mission
- Logo application
- Brand colour palettes
- Tone of voice
Above all that, your brand guidelines will be vital in keeping your entire team on the same page, and subsequently ensuring audiences worldwide receive a consistent impression of your brand through your content.
3. Make guidelines accessible to all
Of course, in order for your brand guidelines to have the desired impact, you need to make them readily available to your relevant employees. Whether you have a specific branding team in place or you want to inform the entirety of your teams worldwide, this educates your staff on what your content should make customers feel about your company.
Failing to get your employees on board early with these new guidelines, or restricting access to just a small number of staff in HQ, makes it increasingly likely that they’ll not follow the instructions, leading to inconsistencies emerging.
4. Synchronise internal branding
Brand consistency is not merely a customer-facing term. It requires employee participation and buy-in to ensure that consistency is maintained across all markets. To achieve that, making both your internal and external branding compatible makes it more likely that your messages remain consistent and authentic, two crucial attractors for consumers.
This can be achieved in several ways, from aligning your onboarding and training programmes with your brand values, to developing internal brand collateral across your buildings and departments to frequently educate employees on your brand’s missions and ideals.
5. Empower employees to champion your brand
As mentioned earlier, brand consistency requires a concentrated team effort. In order to ensure inconsistencies don’t occur, your employees should be enabled to follow your set brand guidelines and create materials, motivating them to be part of the process and achieve the best results.
That is one of the key features of our approach to Brand Activation Management – employees are given the freedom and tools to create high-quality brand assets and quickly get these to market, while remaining contained and managed by working with intelligent templates and guidelines established by your HQ.
Examples of brand consistency done right and done wrong
The beauty of Dropbox’s approach to maintaining brand consistency is in its brand’s simplicity and minimalist nature. Through this, Dropbox conforms to its brand personality of being anything the user wants them to be, and appealing to a wide range of incomes, ranges and needs. This simplicity reduces the likelihood of inconsistencies, and ensures that their internal teams quickly come to grips with what their company stands for.
2. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s brand identity has not deviated significantly over the years from their commitment to putting customers first. This is present across their branding across all channels, primarily focusing on content that highlights those they work with and their target audiences and putting those people front-and-centre, alongside a tenured font, colour scheme and layout.
People’s familiarity with the Dove brand is largely a result of the strength of their messaging and their complete consistency across their packaging and marketing communications. Everything carries the same logos, colour schemes, layouts, shades and other creative elements. As soon as people spot their items on the shelves, they immediately associate it with Dove.
1. New Coke
Did you know that the Coca-Cola logo is recognised by 94% of the world’s population? This makes their short-lived decision to develop “New Coke” in response to a Pepsi marketing campaign a famous misstep in their history, as it damaged their own powerful value proposition. Fortunately, this error was soon corrected with the smart move back to “Coca-Cola Classic”.
When JCPenney’s new CEO Ron Johnson joined in 2011, he had numerous plans for change, including a move away from constant sales and coupons to simply offering lower prices. This might not seem so bad, but for the established JCPenney audience, the move away from coupon-hunting led to a drop-in business, demonstrating the impact of deviating from core brand ideals, which can apply both at home and abroad.
When Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market for the first time, they decided to rebrand their cars in that market under the name “Bensi”. In another example of how dangerous mistranslations and altering your brand identity can be for an organisation, this translated to “rush to die”, which certainly isn’t ideal when trying to market fast, powerful cars.
These are just some of the examples out there of how maintaining brand consistency can help or hinder a company’s fortunes. The good thing is that we can learn and grow from mistakes and emulate those championing consistency to ensure we stay on the right path.
Helping you maintain brand consistency
Hopefully, this insight into the importance of maintaining brand consistency will help you in your attempts to ensure your brand identity is constant across all your markets. With upholding a consistent presence across all channels and markets more relevant than it’s ever been, these tips will go a long way to preventing deviations from creeping in.
We can also support you to achieve this aim through our sophisticated, easy-to-use BAM by Papirfly™. Empowering your teams worldwide to consistently and frequently promote your brand to your local markets, BAM enables you to create, educate, manage, store and share every aspect of what makes your brand unique.
Discover the ultimate support for your brand identity today.