You know it’s happened to you. You’ve chomped down on a Big Mac (or, if you are like me and abhor fast food insert your favorite mass packaged good) only to wonder, “How come this burger tastes considerably different than the one I get near my home?” And it’s a terrible feeling. After all, maybe this was the day you decided to cheat and go for something wonderfully delectable—and horribly caloric—and the inconsistent taste left you feeling wildly unfulfilled.
Now of course some brand inconsistencies are prone to human error. For example, the French Vanilla Coffee Coolatta you get from Dunkin’ Donuts may taste different from one DD to the next simply because the barista added more French vanilla this time around. But even so, we expect a level of consistency, satisfaction and dependability from our favorite brands. And when we don’t get it, we are left feeling confused, dejected and quite possibly irritated.
The dangers of branding inconsistency run deep and can apply to everything from how your food tastes to the tone of your social media posts to the verbiage of your marketing pieces. But your brand is your identity and each facet of your brand—the colors, the tone, the verbiage, the taste, the feel—has to be true to your company. So how can you ensure you always deliver a consistent experience? By keeping the following in mind:
1. Become the Consumer: If you don’t know what it’s like to unwrap your product or call into your customer support center, it’s time to take two steps back before you take another forward. You need to understand the customer experience. You need to feel what your customers feel. And the only way to do that is to become the customer. Doing so will expose company-wide inconsistencies (like the fact that marketing refers to your flagship offering with one phrase while your sales team uses another). It will also enlighten you as to areas that need improving (like your assembly line procedures to make sure each and every box of mac-and-cheese tastes the same no matter where it’s bought).
2. Know Your Channels: You need to understand all your consumer touch points—from your call center to your social media accounts to your webinars—to determine if you’re being consistent across all platforms. To ensure continuity, consider adopting universal brand “isms,” analogies and descriptors. Don’t be afraid to roll out scripts and talking points across departments to make sure language is consistent. Your first step is to identify every channel that touches your customers. The second is to embrace a comprehensive multi-channel strategy.
3. Get Feedback: Though it may sound daunting, solicit feedback straight from the horse’s mouth. Entertain the idea of frequent customer polls, surveys and quality control calls. Ask your consumers what areas of your brand could stand to be improved and the areas in which you excel. Remember that the strongest brands are not afraid of feedback; rather they welcome it. Just last week Coca-Cola tweeted the following:
Welcome ideas from your key stakeholders. Doing so will augment your transparency and allow you to give your consumers a hand in ensuring your branding consistency.
So where do you stand when it comes to brand continuity? Do you think your marketing and production efforts make the grade?