Brand Activation Management

The impact of inconsistent branding on budgets and ROI

July 2020 Written by Papirfly

In today’s highly competitive landscape, the impact of inconsistent branding for an organisation can hardly be overstated. To stand apart from competitors in the ongoing battle to capture the imagination and loyalty of your audience, clear, distinct and steady branding is vital in building that strong emotional connection.

Your brand is your organisation’s identity. It’s the personality that your audiences see and identify with. This means that any semblance of brand confusion, be it an inconsistent brand presentation across your various channels or an ill-thought-out campaign jumping on a recent trend, can cause customers to lose trust in your company.

And that then has a knock-on effect on your ROI. Whether it’s loss of revenue from customers disillusioned by your unsuccessful branding, or investment wasted on campaigns that aren’t aligned with your unique identity, the impact of inconsistent branding can be far-reaching. In fact, it is believed brand consistency can make an organisation around 20% more valuable than those who aren’t.

So what are the effects of inconsistent branding? What pitfalls should marketers avoid, and what action can they take to prevent poor branding from wreaking havoc on their ROI? If you’re looking for the answers to these questions, then you’re in the right place…

Common causes of inconsistent branding

First, let’s explore some of the most frequent factors behind inconsistent branding, and how this manifests itself.

Brand guidelines not being utilised

Your brand guidelines should be at the heart of all past, present and future campaigns. It should highlight to your team members, whether they’re established veterans or freshly recruited, and wherever they’re based across the globe, the core facets of what makes your brand unique.

This ranges from details like approved colour schemes, fonts and tone of voice, right through to overarching explanations of your company’s values and ambitions. If these are strictly followed, there should feel no threat from the impact of brand inconsistency.

However, would it surprise you to read that LucidPress has reported that while 95% of organisations have brand guidelines set up, only a quarter of these are actually observed? This is a significant statistic, as without a clear understanding of the fundamental aspects of your brand, how can you expect your team to be able to deliver consistently? This leaves a lot of room for interpretation and guesswork – both of which are big contributors to brand confusion.

This is why our own brand activation management solution contains a clear section dedicated to educating teams on their brand, providing a distinct area users can visit to explore their brand guidelines and other critical information.

You’ve lost sight of your brand vision

Times change, and brands have to adapt with these in order to survive and thrive. However, meeting new trends and keeping up-to-date doesn’t mean losing your identity or your vision.

Your brand vision is a core component in what drives your company forward and why you approach your work in the way that you do. It’s essential in people internally and externally understanding what your company stands for and what makes it unique. Losing sight of this in an effort to stay on top of the latest trends opens you up to the dangers of inconsistent branding.

Not keeping in touch with your audience

Similar to the above, the impact of inconsistent branding can come as a result of not understanding the needs of your audience, or the reason they are loyal to your brand in the first place.

The “New Coke” campaign is a clear example of this. While Coca Cola is once again flourishing as one of the world’s premier brands with a consistently maintained image, their reaction to “The Pepsi Challenge” in 1975 saw the creation of New Coke, which proved to be a disastrous break away from what their audience wanted or expected from their brand.

Audiences want to know that the brands they’re loyal to understand them in a way their competitors don’t. If you don’t stay engaged with your audience’s interests, and adapt your messaging as this evolves over time, your branding will eventually become inconsistent with what they associate with your organisation.

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Miscommunication between global teams

When it comes to defining inconsistencies and where they come from, a common source is miscommunication. This is particularly a problem for businesses that have teams scattered across the globe, or those who work with external agencies to produce and distribute some of their marketing materials.

While this can work in theory, it leaves a lot of room for mistakes, be that as a result of a direct miscommunication by one party, or the instructions given being misinterpreted by those responsible for creating the asset. This can result in poor branding, which either needs to be reviewed, briefed again, redone, reviewed again, and so forth, or worse is released to your audience despite not emphasising your brand’s identity.

Whether it’s a loss of time and resources, or a loss of customer trust, either way miscommunication can leave companies counting the costs of a poorly maintained brand.

Understanding the effects of inconsistent branding for a business

So, now we’ve presented a few examples of the sources of brand confusion, what impact does this brand inconsistency have in practice?

The following statistics should give you a good indication:

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And these are simply the direct tangible effects that inconsistent branding can have on an organisation. But the repercussions can extend far further, as you need to take into consideration:

  • The time and resources you are investing into correcting poor branding
  • The time and resources it will take to gradually restore the trust and loyalty of customers who have been disillusioned due to any negative branding
  • The damage that is being left to your overall reputation as a result of brand confusion

How to avoid brand confusion

If your brand’s messages, visuals and campaigns across your channels are misaligned, you are sending out confusing signals to your audience. Over time this can have significant consequences to customer experience, brand reputation and overall loss of trust – all of which can then hit your bottom line.

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If you are concerned your brand presentation might not be as unwavering as it should be, consider the following steps:

Make your brand guidelines visible and accessible

Your brand guidelines are your strongest line of defence against brand inconsistency. Make sure that these are stored in an accessible location for those responsible for your marketing worldwide, and provide prompt guidance if these are updated at any point.

Bring your team on board

As well as placing a more prominent focus on your brand guidelines, it’s important to ensure your team understands it. Ideally this should be done directly, either in the form of a branding masterclass meeting or group workshop, ensuring that everyone who will be involved in projecting your brand’s personality doesn’t do so inconsistently.

Establish powerful approval workflows

To reduce any wasted resources on proofing, revising and reviewing assets, set approval workflows to lockdown on any inconsistencies immediately. These parameters keep your marketers and designers in check, reducing the risk of anything being released that doesn’t accurately reflect your brand identity.

Get feedback from your customers

If you are worried that your brand might be diverging with the interests and values of your customers, ask them for their feedback via email marketing, social media or other channels. This will help shape your understanding of what customers want from your brand and if you are delivering on these expectations.

Take marketing in-house

Finally, BAM by Papirfly™ unlocks the potential to bring your branding in-house like never before. By providing your global teams with a platform to create on-brand, studio-standard assets for your campaigns, you can lessen your reliance on outside agencies and the potential inconsistencies this can cause for your branding.

The importance of brand consistency

We hope that this article has left you with a deeper understanding of the impact of inconsistent branding. Remember that consistency is a mark of quality – it emphasises to your customers that you are an organisation that offers them stability, reliability and attention to detail. To them, it is a more valuable characteristic than authenticity, relevancy or transparency.

Any deviation from this can hurt the trust you’ve spent a long time building up among your various audiences, and subsequently leave an unflattering mark on your budget and the return on investment you can expect from your campaigns.

At Papirfly, we are leading the ongoing battle against brand inconsistency. Through our dedicated software, our clients are ensuring total consistency across their marketing channels and empowering their teams worldwide with the tools to develop their own assets, all while observing brand guidelines and being monitored by key personnel.

For more information about our market-leading solution, speak to our team today, or get in touch to arrange your exclusive demo.

by Papirfly

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