"You can’t correct five days of sh*t training with one good day! Every day needs to be planned in a consistent way toward a specific goal." - Oliver Jean
Jean's gold medal at the Vancouver Olympic Games in 2010 resulted from both the consistency and evolution in his training. This formula for success also applies to any marketing strategy, with successful brands being built upon brand consistency and story evolution. In the context of sport, does consistency mean there is no innovation, no new training techniques, or learning? No, it means athletes build on the core competencies – for brands, your core values - to make the athlete strong physically, mentally, and emotionally so they are ready for race day and can take steps in building their sports story.
I can hear you now - but Kat, how does this apply to my brand and how if we’re consistent does my brand story evolve?! Evolution of a brand story and brand consistency can - and actually should - go hand in hand. This is about understanding your brand ethos and personality, more formally known as brand identity (which I like to call your brand vibe), and then using it to develop a consistent brand personality in relaying your evolving story across channels.
People innately like to work with, support and frequent brands they trust. They want to understand what to expect and for brands to deliver on it, in style. An audience will trust brands they recognize. It is important to tell an engaging and developing brand story to allow your company to develop and your audience to grow with you (more to follow on how to build a brand story soon! i.e., follow up blog coming soon). Now, we understand consistency is key to success in sports - but, why is it essential for a brand? While having brand consistency provides the follow key brand capabilities:
Makes You Easy To Spot
Ensures your audience is able to pick you out of a crowd. So when scrolling through their feed, your campaign can easily be associated with your brand. Remember the Old Spice Guy? Or what about the Trivago Guy? You may not know the actor’s name - but I bet if you spotted him on TV while prepping dinner, you would know he’s talking about his great hotel rate for his recent vacay and the perks of booking with Trivago. Which cues thoughts of vacay mode, travel lust, and booking your own vacay - hey you may even lookup rates on Trivago.
Makes You Easy To Understand.
You need your audience to understand you. When you are consistent as a brand, you become dependable. They understand you, they know what to expect, they get your vibe. They can place your tone/voice/style to your brand across all communication channels. Posting content at regular times or regular subjects makes you predictable, not in a boring way, but in a comfy tried and true favorite pair of jeans kinda way. And that comfort feels good!
So, what is your brand vibe? How do you create brand consistency? Defining these things starts with your core values. In life, you are defined by your character. Your character is a direct result of your behaviors, attitude, and effort over time. Your core values drive your decisions in those areas. Consistency in them over time gives people an understanding of who you are.
Similarly, to find brand consistency, you need to know your brand core values, which can be found by answering three questions:
Purpose - what is your value proposition, and what solution do you provide?
Target Audience - who are you trying to reach and why is your value proposition relevant to them?
Corporate Culture - who is delivering your value proposition, and how do they deliver it?
Now that you understand who you are, who you are talking to, and why - how do you find consistency in your evolving brand story? Design.
Design is all about cues. Your audience will pick up on the consistent cues to identify and familiarize themselves with you. To keep your design consistent create your Brand Guidelines. These will include: Colours and Voice. How do you use them? And why?
Colours have a powerful visual impact.
When working through a brand design it’s one of the initial steps - defining your brand colours, written out in PMS, CMYK, RGB, and HEX codes (which you can find more info on the difference in types of colour codes and their use here). Your brand colour code, along with your logo and font then outlines your Brand Style Guide. Used consistently will tie together your various pieces of marketing collateral from digital, website, and social to sales brochures and print materials with a common palette.
Now that you have your palette - find your imagery to match. First, what type of images speak to your brand vibe? Are you playful or formal? Busy or simple? Bright or neutral? Calm or active? Second, choose a brand filter, effects, or presets that align with your brand colours.
CASE STUDY 01. COLOURS
Keeping your colours consistent allows consumers to pick up on your marketing initiatives based on simple colour recognition. A powerful example of this is in Pepsi’s Super Bowl brand activation. Since their engagement with the NFL in 2012, the costumes, fireworks, backdrops, and pros in the Super Bowl halftime show give colour cues reminding you of their sponsorship, while being completely entertained by the energy-filled performance, without needing the logo front and center.
In defining your brand, select your brand colour palette. And tie it into E-V-E-R-Y-thing you do.
Your brand voice - your words - bring your brand personality to life. For decades big brands have developed their slogan - or motto - to define what they are all about. I got you singing along to Drake now don’t I, “…you already know, though, you only live once, that’s the motto.” Ok, let’s get back on track. Consistency in your voice is found in both the types of content shared and the tone of the messaging to deliver it. Both should align with your core brand values. Are you punny, edgy, polite, polished, or witty? Used consistently over time - has a direct impact on your brand personality.
CASE STUDY 02. VOICE
Classic examples, Nike “just do it”, Apple, “think different,” Lay’s “bet you can’t eat just one”. These slogans have defined their brand voice but are also backed by their corporate decisions and corporate cultures to make them continue to ring true. Everything from their social captions to company policies should align with their slogan’s voice. Nike does actually “just do it”, they take a stand for beliefs, and values well before it’s the common movement - they just do it. Their brand ambassadors are champions across sports for not only performance but character - and when they fail to align with Nike’s vibe and values, they are no longer consistent with their brand - then they are no longer on the team.
CASE STUDY 03. TYING THEM TOGETHER
Focusing on imagery, there are two boutique hotel brands I am watching doing this well recently: Acre Baja Hotel in San Jose Del Cabo MX, and The June Motel in Prince Edward County CA - both deliver on brand consistently. Acre, a one of a kind property with glamping treehouse rooms, sustainable villas, an onsite farm complete with rescue animals, and a sub-account on Instagram to showcase their hotel pets, @acredogs. They are all of the refined jungle relaxation vibes. The June is a throwback to the good ol’ days with neon lights, palm prints, and an okay rose state of mind. They’re all about modern versions of old school classics and beauty county vibes. For both brands, their images match their vibe while showcasing their core values and value proposition. The colouring flows provide a general brand mood, and their messaging bring their unique voices to life.
An audience that is familiar with your brand can pick you out in a crowd – identity - which means they have the tools to build an understanding – familiar – which leads to trust. And an audience that trusts your brand is the start to building a community - ie loyalty. You can then build your brand, adding new services, sharing new types of content and engaging in new brand activations - but doing so with the same brand vibe makes your community able to pick up what you’re throwing down. Your community, when they recognize and understand you, can become one of your greatest assets - your brand ambassadors.