How likely is it that you’d forget that McDonalds exists? What about Nike, Coca-Cola or Starbucks? Pretty improbable, right? These iconic brands are so alive, familiar and recognizable that they’ve forged relationships with consumers around the globe.
Case in point: People love Google so much that it’s become a replacement for human interaction. There’s no need to ask your friends how to make your cat love you or how to win the lottery. You can just ask Google, as these are in fact commonly searched Google questions.
A quick visual cue from any one of these larger-than-life brands has the power to cause physiological reactions. Those familiar golden arches might beckon you to abandon your diet with promises of salty convenience. That little Nike swoosh might immediately make you feel guilty for even contemplating one, teeny, tiny fry.
How did this happen? How did these brands infiltrate our brains and our lives?
You might attribute these phenomena to those expertly crafted logos or those ridiculously high-budget commercials that air during the Super Bowl. There’s no denying that Justin Timberlake singing a company jingle will further enhance and develop brand identity, as well as profit margins. But he, just like the rest of the bells and whistles, is just the lure. They’re all mechanisms that entice us.
There’s something much more fundamental that keeps us engaged — and keeps us buying. So what is it? Drum roll, please. It’s consistency. Quite simply, people buy products they feel comfortable with. Consistency establishes trust, strengthens consumer relationships and creates a familiar bond over time.
The most successful companies in the world work hard every day to preserve their brand identity through consistent and deliberate application. It’s very reassuring knowing that a grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk will taste the same in Singapore as it will in Deutschland — complete with the high likelihood that your name will be spelled incorrectly.
These companies work it so well that they’ve become etched in our brains. We know what you’re thinking; woo-hoo for them! But what does that mean to you and your business?
Before you Google it, let us be the ones to tell you. It means that your marketing and communications, much like the richest and most successful companies in the world, must be consistent. Every piece of communication should tell the same story, building a relationship with your target audience. Sort of like a warm, comfortingly familiar blanket… well, sort of.
With so many different touchpoints to consumers — on site, print, television, websites, social media, etcetera — it can be increasingly challenging for businesses to create and maintain a uniform brand. But in today’s highly competitive market, it’s more crucial than ever.
Marketing agencies (ahem — such as g[squared]™) can help you develop a comprehensive set of standards for all brand identifiers, ensuring unwavering consistency. It’s called a Brand Standards Manual (Manual). Every major corporation has one and if you want your brand to be successful, you need one too. Once created, it will become your ultimate guide, establishing your brand strategy in at least four areas:
- Logo: The first visual identifier of your brand is your logo. Translation: it’s very, very important. Directions for placement, sizing and colour would all be addressed in your Manual. For example, designers require ‘sacred’ space around a logo to prevent crowding, and most designers would cringe at a logo that has been altered, stretched or re-drawn. Think about it… if you saw a Subway location with a wonky logo, you might think twice before eating there. Even things that seem small can have an enormous impact on consumer perception.
- Graphics: Distinctive symbols, shapes and images help your customers remember your brand faster. Consistency in usage is pivotal to brand development and awareness. But graphics shouldn’t be thrown together. We aren’t making a stew; we’re building your company. There should be a rationale for usage, ensuring uniformity across the board.
- Colours: If you see a delivery guy dressed in brown, you know it’s UPS. If you see a riding mower painted in green and yellow, you know it’s John Deere. Ladies swoon at the sight of Tiffany’s trademark blue. Colours are powerful weapons in your branding toolkit. They’re rich with meaning, playing a huge role in memory retrieval and perception. That’s why expert help is necessary to ensure your colours deliver the appropriate message.
- Typography: Your typography (aka the different fonts you use) provides visual clues on your identity and tone, while ensuring readability across various mediums. A designer will work with you, providing expert guidance on the fonts that work better in paragraphs versus headlines or numbered charts or billboard campaigns — or other things that you’ve likely never considered.
While this is a very basic idea of the common elements included in a Manual, more detailed standards often cover such things as email signatures, voicemail messages, taglines, copy requirements and the list can go on and on. While seemingly laborious at first, Manuals make consistent brand execution that much easier in the long run. Just ask Walmart, VISA or Costco.
Now ask yourself — how likely is it that consumers will remember your name. If you aren’t sure, give us a call or drop us a line. We’d be glad to help.