You don’t go to Starbucks because you like the mermaid logo. At least not consciously.
You go because of the experience you expect while you’re there and the latte you’ll walk out with.
However, you could identify that mermaid from a block away. And you probably think about how you look in your morning meeting sipping from a Starbucks cup vs. one from a convenience store. Brands impact behavior, so there are good reasons to care about brand consistency.
Software Advice, a Gartner-owned publication that researches and reviews software, did a survey revealing that consumers cited brand consistency as the most important factor driving brand loyalty. But the publication wanted to know why, so they reached out to our CEO, Jody Vandergriff. As the leader and founder of a company that’s all about enabling brand storytelling, Jody had a lot to say. She shared her views on brands and trust, the emotional component of brands and the relationship between brands and the products or services they represent.
Jody explained how strong, consistent brands are inextricably tied to the product. They set expectations for the product or service experience and build trust. Strong brands differentiate one objectively comparable product from another. Think of Starbucks, Elmer’s, Method or Tabasco. Consumers specifically choose that coffee, that glue, that soap, that hot sauce when there are plenty of similar alternatives.
Why? Because they know what they’re going to get.
When you’re walking down the aisles in the grocery store, you can easily recognize the Tabasco among all of the hot sauces, grab it, and move on. Ditto for glue and Elmer’s. That is why brand consistency matters. As Jody explains it, “The strongest brands in the world have proven through the years that consistency is a critical part of maintaining their value – in product as well as in tone, attitude and aesthetics.”
And the value of a strong brand is clear. According to the Economist, “They are the most valuable thing that companies as diverse as Apple and McDonald’s own … Brands account for more than 30% of the stock market value of companies in the S&P 500 index…” Brands can drive a business. That’s why marketers and creatives, like those at Tabasco, are so protective of them and go to great lengths to develop and enforce brand guidelines.
Today it’s tougher than ever to preserve brand consistency. There are so many stakeholders involved in brand development and communications – agencies, marketing teams, sales. And there are many more channels than there were just half a dozen years ago. That’s the challenge that motivates Jody: “We try hard to make brand consistency easy. We know what’s at stake.”