Every experience someone has with your brand either reinforces its meaning or weakens it, which is why consistent branding matters.
Your brand… it can be a pretty elusive topic. You know you need one, but in terms of its importance and impact, well that’s when it gets a little more confusing.
Instead of this ambiguous word, what if you think about your brand as a human, with human characteristics, traits and feelings?
Keeping with this analogy, I want to share an experience I had yesterday with two different people at a networking event the organization I’m part of was hosting. Shortly after arriving, I was introduced to someone (let’s call her Sarah) by a fellow board member and we quickly started chatting. She was warm, friendly and could carry the conversation from topic to topic with ease. A few minutes after we finished talking, another woman walked in (let’s call her Jane) and I thanked her for joining us, told her where to sign in and grab a coffee. She half-smiled, said thanks and moved along.
Same event, two different experiences. One human wasn’t better than the other, but both left me with a different perception.
Friends, your brand is no different.
Whether it’s intentional or not, your brand is leaving each and every person who experiences it a certain perception.
That experience could be as quick as seeing an ad mid-scroll on Facebook or as time intensive as attending an in-person workshop that you’re hosting.
Now, let’s circle back around to the two ladies, Sarah and Jane. After meeting both of them briefly, I now associate ‘friendly’ with Sarah and ‘serious’ with Jane.
Let’s say after the meeting I see both of them again. Sarah is just as friendly as before. My trust in her strengthens and the perception of her being friendly increases because that experience was similar to the first one I had.
Then, I run into Jane and thank her for coming. She smiles, cracks two hilarious jokes and goes on her way. Now, I’m laughing but also slightly confused. My original association for her was ‘serious’ but now she’s showing this whole other side to her, and it’s funny. While I’m entertained, I’m also thinking about who I will get the next time we meet. Will it be funny or will it be serious?
Of course, this is a huge exaggeration. And if I think about it some more, Jane probably didn’t have a cup of coffee in her yet that morning, so who am I to judge?
The point is that every experience someone has with your brand either reinforces its meaning or weakens it.
Let that sink in for a moment. And now think about the experience your brand provides.
The website that you threw together five years ago and have barely touched since then? The half-assed social media account that has a nice combination of travel photos, cat memes and blurry selfies? The graphics that use whatever color-scheme feels right that day? My friends, they all add or subtract from your brand’s meaning and perception.
You wouldn’t hire someone and not invest in their development and growth, so how can you expect to build a successful business without investing in your brand? Investment doesn’t necessarily mean money – more often than not, it’s spending the time getting clear on what you want your brand to be, and then sticking to it, consistently.
The key word being consistent.
I think we’ve all had (or currently have) that friend who isn’t the most dependable. Whether they cancel on dates or don’t text/call/email you back, you aren’t really sure when you’re actually going to hear from them.
The same is true for your brand – consistency builds trust and connection.
There is no right or wrong answer to what a consistent experience looks like for you. If you aren’t sure, think about your brand’s meaning and the perception that you want it to have.
Once you have an idea, look at your brand experience from that perspective and know that every touch point a consumer has with your brand either builds on that meaning or detracts from it.
All my best,
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