The way marketers think of “brand” has evolved over the years. While the average person may think of “brand” primarily as a company’s logo or name, savvy marketers understand that the concept extends far beyond a simple visual representation. Brand encompasses how your customers perceive your products and services, and how you communicate who you are and what you offer as a company – it’s what distinguishes you from the competition. Your brand is communicated visually and literally in your print materials, website, emails, and social media pages – it’s also communicated experientially through the way your company conducts sales calls, handles customer service issues and even answers its phones.
Once you realize how far-reaching the concept of brand is, it’s easy to understand the importance of communicating that brand clearly and consistently, across all communication channels. To put it another way, it’s important for customers to experience your brand in a uniform way, regardless of where they connect with it: online, in direct mail, on your Facebook page or when speaking with your sales representative. What’s more, current digital environments and social media allow customers to immerse in and communicate with brands in ways that were never possible before, making it even more important that customers understand what your brand stands for and what they will encounter when they interact with you.
Take Starbucks, a much admired and – due to its ubiquitous success – sometimes maligned brand. Love them or hate them, for over 40 years Starbucks has offered up a clear vision and consistent messaging, product and retail store experience – and they extend this approach to other high-profile subsidiary brands such as Tevana and Tazo Tea. Starbucks has done such a good job communicating its brand that consumers across the world recognize the Starbucks’ brand on sight and share common expectations about the product and the retail store experience.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an international corporation to ensure your marketing efforts support your brand effectively, just keep the following criteria in mind when executing tactics.
Visuals – establish clear graphic guidelines for the use of your logo, color palette and imagery, and ensure your guidelines address both print and digital applications. Guidelines should provide clear direction but also allow for flexibility. Although print and digital channels often require different approaches toward the treatment of graphics, your brand should still retain a similar look across all channels.
Messages – communicate your company’s brand values, promise and differentiators in your messaging – in addition to presenting your products and service capabilities. Adopt a tone that reflects your brand personality and employ this tone in all communications, whether on your website or in advertising. For instance, if your brand tone is accessible and helpful and your messaging is informative, maintain that approach from Facebook posts to postcards. Keep in mind that users consume information differently in print and digital channels – so while messaging may be consistent for each channel, format (e.g., long-form content versus short-form content) may differ.
Interactions – extend the brand commitment to your in-person interactions with clients and prospects. A great brand experience shouldn’t be limited to your website, for example. The most positive website encounter can be undermined easily by poor in-store or call center customer service. Once you set brand expectations for customers, play them out across all forms of communication.
Essentially, the goal is to create recognition for your brand – in a way that allows the customer to understand what they will experience each time they encounter your brand. That’s not to say your brand won’t evolve along the way as your audience shifts or as technology or the digital environment changes. It will – just be aware of applying these same principles consistently to new communications technologies and target audiences.
At Reuben Rink, we help clients meet challenges such as achieving brand consistency every day. If you need assistance with brand strategy or execution of marketing tactics, we’d love to share ideas with you. Give us a call or send us a message. Or stop by for a coffee!