When it comes to branding, you will probably have heard that consistency is key, and that’s 100% correct.
Once you understand why branding is important, have clarity about your brand strategy, and have creatively put together your brand identity design, the most important thing you can do for your brand is keep it consistent.
The word “consistent” is defined as “acting or doing something in the same way over time so to be accurate every time.” it also means to be compatible or in agreement with something. In terms of your brand that means doing things every single time that are compatible and agree with your values, mission, vision and the rest of your brand. Everything you create should be consistent with those things.
While brand strategy is like the recipe, instructions, and ingredients for baking a cake, and brand design is the actual baking of the cake, consistency is about building your reputation as the best cake-baking person around.
The more consistent you are, the more people will come to know you for who you are, they’ll recognise your colours, imagery, and the way you speak, among other things, and will think of you straight away when they’re looking for what it is that you do.
One of the biggest goals as creatives, as people who wanna get our work out there and share more creativity with the world, is to be more visible. According to a study by LucidPress, brands that are consistently presented experience 3-4x more visibility. So that means if you're trying to get your name out there, trying to share your work with the world, if you're trying to reach a bigger audience, consistency is really what you need to be focussing on. The more consistent you are, the more visible you're gonna be, the more eyes you're gonna get on your work, the more you're gonna be able to grow your audience, the more you're gonna be able to get people to buy your products, your prints, join your Patreon, or subscribe on YouTube. Whatever it is that you're working on, if you're trying to get more visible, consistency is key.
And although money is not always the main driver behind everything that we do as passionate, creative people who are driven by an innate need to create, finances are important. We need to make revenue, it's a vital part of growing a successful business – making money and getting the finances that we need in order to create more things, sell more products and reach more people. There is an average revenue increase associated with consistent brands of 23%. That is a huge percent increase in revenue associated with being consistent. If you want to grow your revenue by nearly 25%, consistency is what you need to focus on, because it's what's gonna get people to come back to you, stay loyal, trust you and recommend you to other people, so consistency is key.
Also, 60% of US millennials expect consistent experiences with brands, whether in person, online, on the phone, in-store – wherever they experience your brand, they're expecting it to be consistent. So if they hop onto your social media and see one thing and then they go in-store and it’s completely different and the experience feels really weird, and then they talk to your customer service and that's different again, you're creating a really confusing, all over the show experience, and that's not gonna get people coming back for more. These people are expecting consistency, so we've gotta give it to 'em.
These are the 5 main reasons why consistency is important:
When you have clarity on your brand, the way that you maintain that clarity and help your audience to know exactly what you do and what you’re about is through consistency. The more that you repeat the same consistent messaging and design, the more you will create clarity in the minds of your audience because they will know what you're about straight away. They’ll see your Instagram or see you in person and when it’s all consistent, they won’t be confused – they'll have super clear information about your brand and your business.
The more that you consistently repeat your messaging, design, vision mission and other aspects of your brand, the more that people are gonna recognise you for that. Personally, I’ve repeated the use of the same colour palette over time and now people recognise me for that colour palette. People see orange pictures on Instagram and they know it’s me. I have a distinct style that I've repeated over and over again consistently and people recognise me for that now. It's the same with talking about what you do. I have recently niched down and figured out exactly who my audience is - you - and have been consistently repeating the fact that I am a brand coach for creatives. That is in all of my messaging, and I am constantly repeating my vision of making the world a more creative place one brand at a time. Sharing this messaging consistently on all my platforms is what’s helping people to then recognise me as the brand coach for creatives. So you have to keep repeating your brand consistently to increase recognition.
In the mind of your audience, the more consistent you are, the more reliable you are. If you say that you are going to show up every week and do a podcast, for example, and do that consistently where it feels the same, you have the same like music, it all looks the same, it's the same quality, and you're talking about the same niche, then your audience knows they can rely on you. They know, "Okay Hollie's a reliable brand, I know she's reliable because she shows up every week, she's consistent at everything that she does, I just know that I can depend on her." Consistency increases that reliability – it shows that you're a brand that your audience can rely on.
Consistency therefore also increases trust, and the process that people need to go to in order to buy from you or invest in you in some way is to know, like, and then trust you. Trust is the big one. Trust is what people need to get to in order to make that final investment. When a customer trusts you and has an innate trust that you can help them or that you are a trustworthy brand that's worth investing in, that's when they're going to buy from you, book your service, buy your prints online, or invest in your Patreon. Consistency helps you build that trust because it shows that you're a trustworthy brand. The customer will get to know you really well, you're talking about the same topics and the same themes all the time, they can trust in your identity, they're going see you online and they know that the quality matches what they saw in person - it's all going to build trust.
Jason Hartman says this quote that "Your personal brand is a promise to your client, a promise of consistency, competency, and reliability." – your personal brand is all about building that trust. Promising your audience that you're going to show up, you’re competent at what you do, consistent in what you're offering and reliable in how you do it.
Loyalty is the next step after trust. When somebody has bought from you, the goal is to make them a loyal customer. As creatives, especially as small creatives, building a loyal fan base is so important. It also costs a lot more in time, effort, energy and income to bring on a new customer than it is to keep an existing customer. Building consistency helps you to retain existing customers and make them come back again and again.
For example, if you're an illustrator with an online store and you sold pins once, what you wanna do is create a consistent brand and experience, so that the person who bought your pins then will come back again and again and again every time you release new products because it's consistent with what they expect from you. The experience is consistent, it matches your mission and your vision, your values, it's all consistent and so they stay loyal. They want more, they love what you do, they know that it's gonna be a similar vibe every time and that it’s gonna be for them. Consistency fosters loyalty and that is what you want, that is the big goal.
Contrary to popular belief, brand guidelines don’t mean that you have to be super strict on everything that you do and you only have very limited ways to use your brand. They are actually about giving you helpful parameters to work within and allow you to easily keep your brand consistent over time. They make the process of creating new brand assets easier, faster, and more straightforward for you. This document shows your brand strategy and identity in a way that makes creating new assets or experiences for your brand easier, quicker, faster and more reliably consistent. It doesn't have to be a large document, it just needs to show the key aspects of your brand and how they can be used.
Streamlining your systems is all about creating systems that allow you to easily, quickly, and more reliably create new assets for your brand. These could include templates, swipe files, shared folders, and other brand-building systems.
For example, you could create templates for your youtube thumbnails, Patreon posts, or Instagram carousels and stories that allow you or someone else to quickly and easily create new graphics for your brand on a regular basis that will always be consistent.
One thing that I always say is that branding is not a "one and done" thing. It's something that you come back to, again and again, to refine and iterate on and see if it’s working, make small changes and look after over time.
One of the best things you can do for your brand is put some time in your calendar every quarter, every six months, however long you want to do in between your check-ins, to review your brand. This means you can check in on your brand, talk to your audience and see how they are enjoying your brand and what their experience is like, see how you feel about your brand, track your metrics, and more. Getting in the habit of managing your brand on a regular basis will save you time, effort, and money in the long run. Rather than getting three years down the track and realising it hasn't been working for two years, you can check in every six months or every quarter and make sure that you are looking after your brand, everything is consistent, and everything is working.