You might have heard the term “on-brand” pop up in conversations. But what exactly does it mean?
Think of your friend who loves working out. If they tell you they get up at 5 AM every morning to hit the gym, that’s on-brand for them. Or your cinephile friend who tells you they spent their weekend binge watching movies - that’s on-brand too.
Being on-brand means performing an action that is typical of the image or identity you’re known for. When you’re on-brand, you create a consistent impression of yourself that others recognize and, more importantly, trust. Consistent is the key word here, because when it comes to branding, consistency is fundamental to building trust and positive customer experiences (CX).
The best brands know what they stand for and communicate this in a consistent manner to their customers. But why exactly is consistency so important? Let’s dive in.
Why brand consistency matters
There’s a psychological reason behind the need for consistency. As humans, we’re wired to seek out patterns and find structure in the information we’re exposed to. Today, the average person processes around 74 gigabytes of information a day, which is the same as watching the entire Harry Potter film series twice (!) in one go. To help us retain all that information, our brains look for patterns that help make sense of it all.
On a brand level, patterns establish trust - they make it easier for customers to recognize and know what to expect from your brand. This helps form a consistent image of your brand.
One of the best explanations I’ve come across on the importance of brand consistency is by market researcher Criag Borowksi. In his article on Harvard Business Review, he compares customer impressions of brands with that of a mosaic.
Like a mosaic, your brand is made up of many individual touchpoints. Whenever a customer faces a bigger decision, like abandoning your brand for your competitor’s, it’s the overall mosaic impression that convinces them to stay.
Inconsistent experiences cause cracks in the mosaic and confuse customers. When you fail to maintain consistency, you create a disjointed impression of your brand in customers’ minds. Over time, these inconsistencies shatter the mosaic and erode customer loyalty. Don’t be fooled, because even the smallest discrepancies can make the mosaic crumble…
The dangers of inconsistent branding
Just look at what happened to Skype. Before being acquired by Microsoft in 2011, Skype was one of the most popular telecommunication apps out there. After the acquisition, the brand underwent multiple redesigns, rebrands, and software updates. They didn’t dot their i’s and cross their t’s consistently, and at one point they even had different logo versions appear on mobile and desktop.
The result of these inconsistencies? An app that was quickly forgotten and upstaged by competitors like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
To build trust and a positive reputation, your branding has to be consistent on many levels, including visually. This consistent look and feel goes beyond your logo. It’s about how you make your customer feel. In every interaction, your brand is evaluated. The words of Andrew Grant couldn’t ring more true, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
While maintaining consistency is easier said than done, the fact remains: it’s key to brand success. Take care of that mosaic and see for yourself what wonders it does for your customer relationships.