Brand basics: Be consistent and consistently good
Consistency is branding 101. It’s critical to building the awareness, familiarity, and expected experiences that create repeat customers. But a key part of delivering that consistent experience to today’s demanding clients is maintaining a consistent high level of quality — both in the content you provide and in the way you deliver it.
This commitment to quality is becoming even more important in business-to-business relationships, because client mindsets are changing. Along with familiarity and trust, a new generation of clients want almost continuous engagement, and they expect that engagement to be meaningful and useful to them.
And it’s not just your clients who value quality — the search engines that deliver digitally-minded customers to brands are now filtering and ranking for the overall quality and depth of content, not just for having the right keywords in the right places.
This increased scrutiny and demand for interaction can make keeping up the quality of the client experience that much harder. Here a few fundamental strategies businesses can use help meet the challenge.
1. Prioritize quality over quantity
Wait a second, didn’t we just say that clients expect quantity and quality? While you probably do need to up your engagement frequency, if what you’re delivering isn’t relevant and impressing your clients, they aren’t going to listen or engage anyway. Before you put it out there, ask yourself, “Is it on point? Is it good? Is it useful to our audience?”
2. Use structured content
Message creep and off-brand one-offs are a bane to any brand. We solve this by recommending that our clients create a structured content document. It’s a top down set of descriptions, boilerplate, and key messages — from your elevator pitch all the way to your long-form “about us” content and mission statement. The idea is to write it once and use it consistently across materials and media, instead of reinventing the wheel for each case. This gets everyone in your organization on the same page (literally) and one voice going out to your clients.
3. Create usable and accessible guidelines
Are your creative and editorial staff the only ones who know the foundation of your brand and how to use it? Helping all of your company’s employees better understand the ideas and vision behind your brand, the standards they are expected to uphold, and even the types of materials available for sales and marketing use will strengthen your brand and turn it into a powerful sales tool. Here are our recommendations for how to create such a resource.
4. Train everyone, and train often
Your brand is one of your most important assets. In addition to point 3 above, formal training for your leadership and employees in your brand objectives, structure, use, and tools should be a top priority. Make brand training a regular event and a core part of your onboarding process.
5. Don’t make changes for change’s sake
We see it all the time: our clients want to tweak their brand identity or messaging because they are sick of seeing and reading the same things over and over. But when you start to get sick of your branding, that’s the point at which it’s just starting to stick with your external audiences. If your business, marketplace, or target customers change significantly, you may have good reasons to revisit your branding. Until then, stick with it and let it do its work.