Building a brand is challenging – it requires a keen understanding of customer motivations, a clear differentiator, and a personality and promise that can serve as the foundation for building equity in the brand over time. Companies invest time, effort and resources in branding because they know it has tangible business benefits but it can all be lost if companies lose focus on their brand messaging.
We know what to expect from brands that have been consistent over time. Tide, Nike and BMW continue to build their brands through consistent messaging. They are reliable and customers come to trust them. Successful branding is achieved over time, not overnight, and consistency is the key. Once you establish persuasive, simple messaging, you must stick with it and continue to deliver that message time and time again. When you think about it, most brands that you know and love have stood the test of time.
Focusing on, and delivering, brand messaging consistently is important regardless of channel or execution, be it a press release, banner ad or sales presentation. Even customer collateral should incorporate consistent key messaging. Delivering a consistent message doesn’t mean you must always use the same words. But it does mean that you must stay relevant and bring fresh, new ideas to your campaigns while ensuring that everything you do remains consistent with your brand messaging. The campaigns themselves should change over time as well, while what is being communicated should continue to be validated and pushed through all communications channels. Geico is a great example of a brand that uses multiple campaigns but still communicates a consistent, crystal clear message.
When companies develop a brand messaging strategy, they usually have the best intentions of remaining focused on that messaging; but for various reasons, they stray. Many times, a company simply gets bored with communicating the same messages time and again so they begin to introduce new messages. At other times, a brand’s priorities change either through new direction or product strategy shifts. Whatever the case, the loss of focus hurts a brand. Each time your brand delivers a compelling brand message, it earns trust. Each time your message is unclear, it erodes trust and devalues the brand.
So, how does a company create a framework for consistent brand messaging?
- Define and document key messaging. Develop a messaging guide that outlines the brand’s purpose and personality, brand promise and key messaging, and key criteria for judging communications. It should serve as a resource for all parties that develop and disseminate brand communications.
- Educate internal audiences first. Employees are where the rubber meets the road for a customer’s experience with the brand. They must understand and be able to articulate the messaging day-in and day-out. Whether it’s an elevator pitch, describing to neighbors what the company does or selling to customers, consistency in communications builds confidence for the staff and the market.
- Monitor and evaluate. Consistently monitor the use of key messages both for accuracy and “message creep.” Ask customers and prospects how they perceive the company and see if they’re parroting back the messaging.
- Establish accountability. Put someone in charge of brand messaging both as a resource for internal audiences and to evaluate communications efforts.
Your message is what defines your brand. It should be built into all of your communications efforts — public relations, social media communications, advertising, public speaking. Everything. When you build consistency across all marketing channels — with a cohesive voice and brand appearance — you’ll build trust and pave the way for stronger trust resulting in better business results.