Inconsistent Branding and Business Growth (Hint: One Kills the Other)
It’s easy to understand branding as a general concept, a set of cohesive (hopefully) elements that customers relate to your products and services.
But it’s another issue entirely to get the gravity of what branding is supposed to accomplish for your business.
Branding done right means far more than eye-catching logos and clever tag lines.
Your brand equals your company’s truth. It encompasses how people perceive your identity, intentions, and reputation. It’s a tangible mark and an emotional connection.
Experts have long warned that inconsistent branding can cause a steep decline in popularity, and thus, profits. Let’s take a closer look at what happens when brands lose their way.
What Does Inconsistent Branding Look Like?
Since the term brand encompasses every aspect of your business’ public persona, there are plenty of opportunities to mess up. Here are a few big ones:
- Messy visuals: Your logo, images, and color schemes should create instant recognition. If you keep changing these elements, or mess with when and where they show up, it makes it difficult for customers to trust the communication (Is this really a beloved skincare brand or an imposter using cheaper ingredients?).
- Conflicting values: Thanks to social media, businesses can engage with customers beyond a simple transaction. But if leadership and employees aren’t careful, stories and activities can send conflicting messages about the company’s core values.
- Inconsistent messaging: Messaging refers to your brand voice, tone, and style. How do you sound to customers—funny, casual, knowledgeable, buttoned-up? If your website is one hundred percent educational but your social media posts are all humor, what gaps have you created in people’s minds? Furthermore, can your company rise above the noise if customers can’t tell who’s speaking?
What Does Inconsistent Branding Lead to?
Confusion. Erosion of trust. Shaky customer experience. Miscommunication.
These days, consumers have lots of options. Plus, it takes time and repetition for people to go from being aware of your business to trusting it and eventually making a purchase. If at any step along that journey they feel confused or uncertain, they’re likely to jump ship.
How to Avoid Pitfalls
It takes countless hours of focused effort to create a worthy brand and just as many to maintain it. Here are some tips to help you along the way:
- If you say something publicly, behave the same internally. What your company touts on its website and other public platforms carries plenty of weight. But internal practices mean as much if not more. Most often, the disconnect pops up in customer interactions. Consider how many businesses highlight their commitment to customer service but maintain policies that obviously value profits and shareholders over customer experience. Staying consistent means choosing everyday procedures that align with what’s promoted.
- Reward your company’s values. It’s not enough to simply avoid policies that go against your public persona. You should actively reward actions that match your stated mission and values. For example, how would it look to employees if a company consistently preaches about quality but rewards its sales department based on volume? Decide what means the most to your business and promote those beliefs in every way possible.
- Stay true to your core audience. It’s easy to get distracted by younger, shinier generations. To make a grab at new customers, brands sometimes shift their messaging. But if your primary base is older or in a different phase of life, certain changes can feel disjointed or even offensive. It’s okay to rebrand your communications, but in doing so, be deliberate and thoughtful so you don’t lose an already loyal following.
- Stop chasing trends that don’t match your brand’s story. Perhaps the best example of misguided trend chasing is when companies try to build an audience on every social media platform without thinking it through. Example—TikTok has a massive following, but its users are accustomed to brief, entertaining videos. If your product or service can’t pique interest in 10-15 seconds or your customers aren’t flooding the platform, why spend your resources trying to get a foothold there?
- Consolidate Vendors. More hands touching your precious brand elements mean more opportunities for confusion and chaos. Keep your inner circle small, and you’ll more easily keep control of your branding.
- Invest inwardly as well as outwardly. Happy, vocal employees can be a business’ most significant asset. As much as you try to win loyal customers, if you hold the same enthusiasm for getting fulfilled employees, your brand will be better for it. Plus, modern consumers have little patience for companies with toxic internal cultures.
- Audit your brand yearly (at least). Check up on your brand’s position in the market quarterly or yearly to ensure things aren’t slipping through the cracks.
We have over 20 years of experience helping companies streamline their marketing efforts and manage their brands through our proprietary brand management platform. When you partner with us, we provide a customizable storefront that lets your team effortlessly create and circulate approved branded goods. Because easy is amazing.