As humans, we need consistency; we crave it, our lives would spin out of control without it. Just for a second, imagine going to work, and unlike yesterday, all your files on your computer are not there. You would probably freeze, panic, freak out a little more, and then, with some measure of composure, call I.T with a touch of desperation and hope.
What if you reviewed your wage stub, and suddenly there was 50% less than last month? It would probably leave you feeling confused and jilted. Within the context of a business, your emotional response toward their brand is why companies strive and add great importance to delivering a consistent experience for their customers.
Go into any modern high street coffee shop and then visit the same store elsewhere in the country or even the world. You will, more likely than not, have a very similar (if not identical) brand experience. To signify that you have found the right place, you will recognize the logo and exterior design of the coffee shop. You have the confidence that you are going to get what you are seeking, the way you have come to expect it, at the price you are used to paying. As you walk through the door, you are welcomed by a familiar-looking and smelling interior and are greeted by a barista wearing a familiar uniform. The drink names are the same; the pastries are the same; the merchandise they sell is the same. You know what you want, and you get it, time and time again. It is easy, stress-free, and it leaves you feeling satisfied and fulfilled. You get the point: consistency is essential. When executed well, it is the critical foundation for a fruitful and profitable brand.
Customers who have a consistently positive experience with your company will return for more. They will return time and time again. They will become loyal customers and will bring others with them to purchase your product or service, enrolling them to be part of your “brand tribe.” Sounds great, and it is, but there is a downside. Customers today can probably purchase your service or product from your competition (especially with the ease of the Internet). Customers are very loyal until something interrupts their experience, and they are very willing to jump ship and give their business to your competitor(s). Competition adds extreme importance and pressure for your company and staff to ensure that a positive experience is being delivered consistently, time and time again, without fail.
Brands are built (as well as destroyed) at the employee level. Staff retention is vital; it pays to retain them and to keep them happy. A company can spend a lot of money rehiring and training a consistent flow of new employees – which can affect workflow and company morale. Employees appreciate consistency for all the same reasons as your clients do. Ask your team what the company can do to enhance their experience as an employee. Inclusive environments promote a feeling of belonging and value. Employees who sense they make important contributions increase their loyalty, which results in a happier workforce – and this benefits the bottom line.
In the eyes of a successful brand, every member of your staff from the custodian to the CEO are equal. You could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a successful advertising campaign. However, if someone experiences poor service from the receptionist or agent over the phone, it can erode your brand equity and reputation and could cost you the client / customer. Where in your business are you not delivering the same branded experience?
Consider how and when a customer comes into contact with your company. These “contact” points are known as “touchpoints.” Are your customers receiving the same branded experience via every touchpoint? If not, question what needs to change; is it retraining of a staff member, or maybe ensuring that your logo is the same for all your corporate and marketing materials?
As your business grows or the business environment around you changes, some touchpoints will no longer deliver the required corporate message and branded experience. You can simply re-align it. Should you feel unsure of what needs to change and how to accomplish this, try asking your customers or staff what would work for them. Alternatively, you could hire a communication and design company to assist you with the process.
To get you started, I have included a few touchpoint categories (in no particular order). Note that as each company or industry has its unique set, this list is not exhaustive.
How does a “speech” deliver your brand message? It could be a public speech, a business presentation, or even an address to university students. Question every detail of that statement, what different elements could leave people with an experience or a judgment of you and your company.
Consider how the following can influence a certain impression: your clothing (too casual/too corporate), how you speak (interesting, slow/fast, even inappropriate), your PowerPoint presentation (Is it designed well; is it consistent with your handouts and other corporate materials?). Put on your detective hat and inspect every touchpoint. Once you have obtained consistency across the board, your clients will become loyal brand ambassadors, returning for more and more.
Being consistent is an ongoing endeavor, and it takes repetition to get a brand message to stick. Often at the point that you are becoming tired of a campaign or message is when it’s starting to have a real effect on its intended audience. Be patient; it takes time to build loyalty.
In summary, be consistent, consistent, consistent. Then a little more.
Some touchpoints for you to explore:
WORD OF MOUTH
VOICE MAILS / ANSWERING MACHINE / TELEPHONE
ENVIRONMENTS / OFFICE SPACE
PHYSICAL WORKING SPACE OF HEAD OFFICE