How brand inconsistency wastes your limited marketing budget

A mentor of mine once told me he spent his marketing budget “in a way I could explain with a clear conscience if a student came into my office and wanted to see how their money is spent.”

That’s good advice. Managing any budget is a stewardship role. But if you’re a marketing professional, you need to spend budget money strategically, too.

Name a successful company with an inconsistent brand. If you can’t, it’s because there isn’t one.

If you’ve convinced yourself that your brand is different or exempt from this rule, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your perspective. Even in B2B – which is “all about relationships” – consistently-branded companies are 20 percent more successful than their poorly-branded peers. There are no successful, inconsistent brands.

Eager start-ups and established universities often suffer from inconsistent branding. Start-ups are often so new they don’t know who they are, and many universities simply have too many people in too many offices working with the brand to keep up. One new, one old, and both, not surprisingly, struggle to reach their full potential.

So, why is a consistent brand critical to your success? It’s because marketing is synergistic. There is no magic marketing bullet – success is the result of being in the right place at the right time for the right person consistently. Americans see as many as 5,000 marketing messages every day. If you’re not consistent, you’re wasting money on messages that won’t stick in your market’s mind. No matter how clever the copy, no matter how beautiful the design – you’re just more noise.

Remember, your brand isn’t just your logo – it’s your core, value-driven message and how you deliver that message. Focusing only on your logo is only half the job. So, want to keep your brand consistent? Start with these four steps.

Write your brand down – Start with a brand book that has your basic visual standards, as well as your message, voice and tone. Keep updating it. D. White & Company offers brand building services. 

Train your staff – If you’re not holding regular brand training for your staff and key stakeholders, you won’t be successful. Teach people how to use your brand.

Create review processes – You can’t create consistency without process. Create processes for your creative teams and anyone with the ability to purchase branded items or speak for the brand. That’s probably everybody in your organization.  

Review and evolve your brand – A consistent brand is not rigid. The best brands continually incorporate changes to stay vital. Hold regular listening sessions and focus groups to learn what your prospective students or customers expect from your brand.

Don’t be too anxious to “rebrand.” Think of rebranding as a hot branding iron. You only want use it when it’s necessary. First focus your current brand. Make it consistent. If clients, staff and stakeholders aren’t responding to it because it looks low-quality or dated, it may be time for a refresh. Think of how Apple updates its logo. Think evolution, not revolution.  

Almost all marketing professionals wish they had more budget money to work with, but brand consistency is something that maximizes your budget and costs little or nothing. Before you ask for another marketing dollar, make sure your brand is consistent.   

D. White & Company is a marketing consulting firm that helps organizations build successful brands. Want to start your own brand book? Schedule an appointment with us today.