25 June 2015 by Richard Parsons

Where’s the Consistency Gone?

Consistency_1700x498We don’t behave the same way at the football game as we do at a funeral, unless we’re starring in a gross-out Hollywood comedy. As humans, we adapt our behaviour to the social context. Brands should do the same.

Brands need to adapt their messaging to the medium while keeping the brand values consistent. This is particularly true in the digital age of the internet, networking and social media. It’s never been easier to interact with customers and respond almost instantaneously. The flipside of this is that it’s never been easier for customers to share their views about you, good or bad, as quickly as they can type. For many brands, the retweet button has been the single scariest development since Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web.

In the age of transparency and sharing, there is nowhere to hide. So the way businesses talk online, be it via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, obviously needs to change, too. Context is all. Would you use the same language in a report and accounts as you would on your Facebook page? No. At least, I hope the answer’s no.

Now let’s say you’ve developed a strong brand personality. Our view is that the best way to reap the benefits of it is to deliver consistent messages over a long period of time. That means anything and everything that conveys a message about your brand. It doesn’t have to be a written or visual message; it can be a feeling or an experience. Marketing covers all the ways a brand can influence the audience.

Being consistent doesn’t mean being repetitive. For example, you’d become unpopular pretty quickly if you told the same story over and over during canapés at a cocktail party. On the other hand, if you’re telling entertaining stories and wearing interesting shoes, fellow guests will a) notice you and b) want to spend time with you. Others, overhearing the laughter, might look on enviously and think “He sounds like a popular guy. I’d like to get to know him ‘cos everyone else seems to think he’s the mutt’s nuts”. This guy is far more likely to receive another invite, too.

In B2B, we often lack this commitment to creating a strong brand personality and exposing the audience to it consistently over time. There’s a fear of sticking to a game plan; as marketers we seem to think that an idea wears out faster than a pair of Primark socks. Don’t count on it – while you may have been living with your brand message for quite some time (and even got tired of it), that probably happened long before your customers have even noticed it.

Hegarty says: “The key to great marketing is never to stop thinking like your audience.” In other words, never underestimate the ability of your audience to know exactly what’s appropriate to them and what’s consistent about your brand over time.

You can read my last post as part of this 12 blog series here.