A study shows that “The greatest negative impact of inconsistent brand usage is the creation of confusion in the market.

Consider this: You just touched down in a country you’ve never been to. Now, you’re in desperate need of a caffeine fix to help push you through the jet lag.

As you walk through the airport, you have a choice to make. You can grab a coffee at an unfamiliar cafe or you can order your usual at a nearby Starbucks.

Brand Inconsistency: What’s at Stake?

An unclear, inconsistent brand can lead to:

👉 A poor customer experience
👉 Miscommunication about your business
👉 An inability to build trust with customers

Your customers’ time is valuable (and limited). You don’t want to waste it with them trying to work out what you do, or whether you have a solution to a challenge they’re trying to solve. At best this is a little frustrating. At worst you lose business to a competitor brand if your prospect or customer decides to look elsewhere for answers.

Your brand & customer experience are linked

If a person has a positive experience with your brand, they’re more likely to trust it. And if they’re more likely to trust your brand, they’re more likely to do business with you.

In fact, consumers have come to expect a consistent, distinguishable brand experience. In one study, 90% of people surveyed expected brands to use the same branding across their platforms and channels.

Interestingly, however, only a quarter of companies say they stick to their brand guidelines, leading to inconsistent brand presentation across channels.

By investing in building a consistent brand, you can leverage it to help you take control over your customer experience.

Starbucks & Customer Loyalty

Here’s an example.

Starbucks is one of the most known brands in the world. Its logo is iconic. And while its global expansion is impressive to say the least, Starbucks didn’t become known across the world overnight.

The company’s first global brand campaign launched in 2014. This was long after the brand had established itself as the world’s largest roaster and retailer of specialty coffee.

Keeping Consistent as it Expands

Before expanding onto the international scene, Starbucks had established a strong, consistent brand back home in the United States.

No matter which of its thousands of locations customers visit, they know what to generally expect from the products, the service and the space. There will be WiFi. There will be indoor seating. Their go-to Starbucks drink will likely be on the menu. And the baristas will write their name on a paper cup to add a personal touch.

Connecting its Brand to its Core Values

Starbucks has built its brand around the company’s core values, which includes “creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.”

So, whether customers grab their Starbucks Americano in Seattle or Shanghai, their experience will probably give them a sense of familiarity—a comfort in knowing what they can expect when they walk through the cafe doors.

In other words, Starbucks offers people a consistent customer experience and removes the uncertainty around their coffee purchasing experience. As a result, people are willing to pay more for a cup of coffee—or other beverage—than they may be compelled to pay at another coffee house they’ve never been to.

Thriving in New Markets & Territories

Today, Starbucks continues to push its brand forward, taking advantage of new and emerging customer engagement platforms. It has developed a strong presence on social media and has also invested in mobile marketing, particularly its rewards program which is tracked through the company’s mobile app.

It has maintained an undeniable “Starbucks” look and feel, benefitting from the trust and credibility it has built with its customers as it continues to expand into new markets and territories.

Remember: It’s a journey, not a destination

The trick to achieving brand consistency is to remain, well, consistent.

However, that’s easier said than done. There’s a lot of upfront work that goes into it and it’s helpful to understand that achieving brand consistency isn’t a destination, it’s an ongoing journey of establishing, positioning and protecting your brand.