Updated on February 12, 2020.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as saying, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Note that Emerson refers to foolish consistency. Smart consistency, on the other hand, should be adored by marketers and businesspeople everywhere. Smart consistency strengthens your brand and improves your marketing efforts. With so many marketing platforms available, it’s easy for marketers to lose track of their message and image in their communications efforts. But consistency really is the key to effective marketing, making it a priority to be able to control the message.
The most famous brands – think Coca-Cola – are always consistent. Their logo always looks the same, the tag line is the same and the general look and feel always follows the brand’s rules. Great brands enforce consistency.
Less established brands, especially struggling businesses, tend to do the exact opposite. They change up the logo, don’t respect or even have set colors or tag lines or fonts. One ad tells you one thing about the company and makes that a “brand attribute” while another touts something completely different.
Some businesses are experimenting with their marketing or simply don’t have the budget to hire a professional to caretake their branding efforts. A busy business-owner is probably too caught up in his or her other responsibilities to pay close attention to the marketing.
Marketing communications aim to shape perception. As a marketer, you want the public to come to accept and believe the image that you project. And what does an inconsistent message or look communicate? If it succeeds in communicating at all, inconsistent marketing shows a lack of direction, and in some cases, carelessness. Inconsistency can also communicate confusion, and that muddles your branding.
How do you create and enforce consistency?
1) Make consistency a priority!
2) Name a point person to be the final authority on all communications. That person would ensure style and message are in sync with all other marketing efforts.
3) Create an organizational marketing style guide, and refer to it every single time you are putting out a message.
4) Train your people on your message. This is doubly important if several people handle your message, and especially on social media platforms like Twitter.
Yes, consistency will take enforcement and effort, but the result will be a stronger brand.
Deborah Brody established Deborah Brody Marketing Communications in 2002 to provide writing, blogging and strategic communications consulting services to small and medium sized businesses and nonprofits.
Emily Herman contributed to this post.