“What is the best approach to reach to our customers?” I asked my manager this question when I started my marketing job years ago. He said it succinctly: “consistency and frequency.” He explained to me that we need to understand our audiences and have a game plan. That is given, but the challenge is to keep up with consistent messaging at an optimal frequency over a long period of time. In marketing, messaging refers to how we articulate our brand (brand guide) and product positioning (value propositions and messaging) in marketplaces. For a brand to stick in a prospect’s mind, consistency is the key.
CONSISTENCY DOES NOT MEAN COMMUNICATING THE SAME THING IN EVERY CHANNEL EVERY DAY
For brands, you can communicate different topics and use different creative layouts, but certain design or communications rules have to stay intact so that your customers instantly make the association with your brand when they see your ads or marketing messages.
Target and Apple are good examples. Target is one of the largest discount retail stores in the United States. Their logo is a bright red and white bullseye with three rings. They don’t usually show the logo until the end of their commercials, but they creatively use the shape of a bullseye as a prop or as part of the story. And the colors of red and white are prominently displayed. Another great example is Apple. Not only do their commercials adhere to strict style guidelines, co-marketing materials with different telecommunications providers also retain the same qualities, so they are also instantly recognizable as ‘Apple.’ Even with new content from their partners, I am able to quickly identify the brand based on that subtle consistency of style.
Consistency means that you need be present on a regular basis, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be on all marketing channels all the time. Remember, it’s important that the quantity of output does not outpace your ability to provide relevant content with consistent quality. Do not use social media for the sake of social media.
Do not be consistent for the sake of being consistent.
CONSISTENCY DOES NOT MEAN RIGIDITY
Consistency means adherence to a specific look-and-feel and tone-and-manner. You can still exercise a sense of innovation and creativity within that boundary. That boundary is set by the brand guide, brand persona and brand propositions. It comes back to knowing what you are and what you mean to your customers. Delight your customers yet stay true to your brand essence. Here’s a great example from Reebok. It uses different messaging on different social media platforms, yet the messaging has the same theme. Let’s take a look how they approach two visual social platforms – Instagram and Pinterest. Not only does Reebok adjusts its marketing message to the different target audience, it also adapts its message to the specific features that those social platforms use: Instagram is about visuals and story, the feeling behind their products; on the other hand, on Pinterest Reebok is more organized and more sales oriented, almost catalog-like.
The art of consistency is staying on-brand from channel to channel.
Reebok on Instagram
Reebok on Pinterest
DIFFERENT JOURNEYS, CONSISTENT MESSAGING
Today’s customers conduct more independent research and it takes them more time to make a purchase decision. In addition, your customers take different journeys and paths to your website or make a purchase. Therefore, it’s important to deliver consistent messaging across channels that your company uses for outbound marketing efforts. Consistent messaging doesn’t mean saying the same things at different stages of the purchase funnel, it means adapting your messaging to the formats and audiences of each stage. I love Chubbies, an e-commerce store selling radical and fun shorts for men. Their e-mails are always fun, borderline silly and they have fun with (or even make fun of) their products. Yet, their website really focuses on sales-centric and promotional offers with laid-back copy. In emails, they make an effort to pique people’s interest. Once you land on their website, it’s all about conversions and transactions which makes perfect sense. At the same time, their value and beliefs are articulated clearly on their website which is their compass and directs their approach to consistent messaging.
Validate your content: make sure to stay true to your brand and messaging throughout the entire buyer’s journey
Chubbies email: FUNNY is the key!
Chubbies website: Focus on promotion and FUN
Chubbies value and beliefs: Guide them on their business directions, even creative development.
CONSISTENCY OF BRANDING AND MESSAGING ALSO APPLIES TO SALES
Sales teams are the frontline interface of a brand. Marketing ensures consistent messaging throughout the customer journey, but sales reps, account managers, customer service, and support teams all shape the customer experience and, indirectly, bring brand promises to life. While a brand guide is written to reflect who the company is and what the company stands for, it does not define who the salespeople are, but it helps to display it. For complex sales, people are the brand and the unique differentiator. It’s important for salespeople to be familiar with their brand guide, brand and product value propositions, and messaging.
Although it’s hard to quantify the benefits of consistency in the context of sales revenue or demand generation, it’s essential to capture the true essence of a brand. Consistency helps shape both the look-and-feel and the tone-and-manner of your messaging and your online and offline experience, which helps customers identify your company and brand when they see your content.