When it comes to marketing, there are few things that can kill your momentum as fast as poor consistency. Consistency in brand, consistency in content, and consistency in message. In order to be successful in today's hyper-competitive landscape, you have to show up and show up well every single time.
This entire series and upcoming book are about how we can humanize our brand and be better marketers by treating our audience like the humans that they are. Consistency in how our brand is showing up is paramount to this goal. Are we confusing our audience? Are we keeping our brand intact? Are we sharing the same type of messaging? And most importantly, are we showing up when we're expected to show up?
There is a great Woody Allen saying, "Showing up is half the battle," and that is never more true than in marketing. In order to be great, we have to be seen. Our message has to be seen. Our brand has to be seen. And in order to be seen, we simply must show up and show up consistently every single day. That's how we become memorable, and that's how we win.
Consistency in Brand
There is a reason that very successful brands are extremely particular about how their brand is used and represented. They manage everything down to the smallest detail about their brand because every single step tells a story. Your brand is what you make it, and that is how your audience will perceive it. If it's all over the place or inconsistent, your brand will be viewed as unorganized.
But how do you have a consistent brand?
It starts with brand guidelines. Your brand guidelines need to take every circumstance into account and manage how your brand is used, even if it's used outside of your owned media, like your website or social media accounts. First, let's dive into the visual elements of your brand that you need to manage. Then we will dive into the language and communication elements of your brand.
Visual Brand Elements
Your logo is your brand, and keeping very tight regulations around the use of your logo, both internally and externally, is extremely important. Your organization should outline every single scenario that could come up so that there is no issue with the appearance or perception of your brand in public.
Things to consider:
- Where will your logo be used?
- How will your logo be used?
- Are there different variations of your logo?
- Can the logo be altered to become an icon?
- Will the color of your logo change when placed over different backgrounds?
- Can the logo be placed over textured backgrounds?
- Can the logo be stretched, manipulated, or altered in any way?
While it may feel silly or like it's overkill to outline every single detail of your logo usage, the fact is — if you give someone an inch, they'll take a mile. And you definitely don't want anyone taking a mile's worth of leeway with your logo.
Regardless of what your business does or what it sells, color can be a defining trait of your business that can help consumers associate your brand with what you do.
Things to consider:
- What is your primary color pallet?
Colors are very important for your brand. Think about it — what colors do you associate with McDonald's? Red and gold, obviously. What about Best Buy? Blue and yellow. How about some more business to business brands like HubSpot? Orange. Salesforce? Sky blue. And what about Adobe? Red.
It is important to share information in all color formats so that there is never any guessing on what the color really is for different formats. This includes RGB (for web), CMYK (for print), and HEX codes.
In addition, you should outline which colors in your pallet are your primary colors and which are secondary colors. You may have some colors used only for certain circumstances or as highlight colors. You may also have background colors or general light and dark colors that shouldn't be used as primary colors for your brand.
- How can your colors be used?
There are likely colors in your pallet that don't look great on top of or next to each other or even present accessibility issues if they are used in specific ways.
Again, being as specific as possible will save your brand from an unfortunate design or layout that can look bad on the brand.
Typography can set the tone for your brand. It can help inspire action, encourage additional reading, and even draw attention to the places you want the reader to focus on.
Things to consider:
- What are your primary fonts?
In this section, you should be thinking about written content. How do you want that to appear? Think about your headings — will your H1 (primary heading), H2 (secondary heading), H3, H4, H5, H6, and paragraph text have font specifications associated with them? Typically most brands have at least two fonts — one for headings and one for paragraph fonts.
Heading fonts are typically bolder and more eye-catching than paragraph fonts. The idea here is that there will be fewer words used in these fonts, but they will be impactful words that draw your audience in. Paragraph font, in contrast, should be an extremely legible font and one that doesn't fatigue your reader's eyes. For paragraph fonts, typically, the more simple, the better, and I am very much on team sans-serif (no extending features like the font of this blog post) over a serif font like Georgia. The difference in ease of reading is substantial, especially if it's a lot of content.
Your imagery speaks to who your brand is and should be consistent with the other elements of your brand. It should speak to your purpose, your messaging, your color pallet, etc.
Things to consider:
- Type of imagery
Will your brand be using graphical imagery or photography? If you're using photography, will you allow stock photography, or will it all be owned and created media?
- Style of imagery
If you're going with graphical imagery, will you use a flat style or a 3D style? If you're using photography, will you be incorporating people, products, landscapes, and other elements?
Within your marketing, you should also be considering who will be the faces of your marketing. What are their demographics? What subset of the population are you attempting to highlight? What level of diversity is important? What characteristics do they need to have? How will they be positioned?
There is a lot to consider when it comes to including people in your imagery. As a good rule of thumb, the people in your imagery should directly relate to your target audience. They should be representations of your best customers and the people that you work best with. While it may not be the popular opinion right now, I do not believe that you should force elements that do not represent your organization and your ideal customers. So while we all want to be more diverse, if you only sell to women, you shouldn't be sharing men in your marketing materials. If the buyers of your product are 50+ white men, it's ok just to have 50+ white men in your collateral. Diversity for the sake of diversity isn't equity.
Another tip for getting the most out of your imagery is to ensure that the people are always looking in the direction of the most important content. It's human nature to follow the eyes of a subject, so if they are looking towards your form on your website or towards a key piece of information, your audience will naturally look that direction more frequently.
But, again, all of this comes back to consistency. Your imagery and the people in them should be consistent. They should have a consistent theme. They should be geared toward a consistent audience.
Ok, so that was a lot of details and very tactical. It was meant to be. While a lot of what I'm talking about in this series and my upcoming book is about strategy and incorporating the pillars of marketing like a human into our campaigns, content, and messaging, we also have to make sure that the consistency of our brand remains intact and above reproach.
Consistency in Content
Next, we need to think about our content. And while we all know that more content is better than less, not all content is right, and just creating content for the sake of creating content doesn't do anyone any good.
From this perspective, it's important to have a firm grasp of the purpose of your content. Is it educational? Is it sales driven? Is it for entertainment? Regardless of what purpose you choose, your content should exist for a reason, and if any content — yes, ANY content, regardless of how long you spent on it or how much you have invested in it — doesn't fall into a solid purpose, then it needs to be scrapped or, at the very least, reevaluated.
Think about it — what would you think if the Onion, the satyrical publication, all of a sudden put out an in-depth, hard hitting article on homelessness in America? You'd be super confused, as would every single one of their readers. Or if HubSpot suddenly started sharing content on their social networks about what's happening in the cryptocurrency world. It doesn't fit with what their content is meant to be. The Onion is known for entertainment, so putting out research-heavy content doesn't fit with what their audience expects. HubSpot puts out education-based content around the world of marketing and sales, not financial news.
While those examples may seem pretty obvious, this can happen in a more subtle way as well. Be aware of your content, who it's for, and why they care. Creating content just because you have to publish new content can create more issues than it solves.
Consistency in Messaging
Consistency in messaging goes hand-in-hand with consistency in content, but it is focused on your tone, voice, and topics. How are you portraying your message in your content across all of your outlets?
This means keeping a consistent tone and voice from your blog to your videos to your emails to your social media posts. It matters. People pay attention to it and will notice if something is off. More than that, consistent messaging can also help to establish your brand and make your brand more recognizable.
By consistently focusing on your messaging and incorporating the other pillars of Market Like A Human, you can start to create a tone, voice, and message all your own. That builds rapport with your audience and helps you to become a reliable and trusted voice in your industry.
Nothing Happens Overnight
And finally, it's important to think about consistency in creation. Content creation and really marketing, in general, are not meant for the faint of heart. It's hard work, and it's hard work every single day for the rest of your career. It means creating content calendars, schedules, drafts, outlines, and tasks to make sure that when your audience expects a new video to be released at 11 am each Tuesday, it's released every Tuesday at exactly 11 am.
We are all creatures of habit. I know that every Monday morning, I am going to receive an email from HubSpot, that I'm going to see a reel from my favorite influencer on Facebook every day at lunch, and that each month on the first, I am going to receive an RSS email from HIVE Strategy with all the blog content that they published last month. Consistency in creation is important to your audience, and the more reliable you can become with your content, the larger and faster it will grow. Being predictable is a vastly underrated skill in marketing. Just show up when people are expecting you, and you'll be 50% farther along than almost any other business.
On top of that, search engines like it too. It's been widely accepted that consistent content is more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages because it's reliable. When Google knows you put out a blog post every day at 8:15 am, the algorithms can expect it. When you post sporadically and inconsistently, the spiders aren't looking for your content.
Consistency is one of the core pillars in my upcoming book, Market Like A Human. If you found this interesting, click the link below to sign up for information on pre-orders, giveaways, and launch dates. You can also check out Market Like A Human: The Importance of Transparency and Market Like A Human: Authenticity is Key for some more insight into how your organization can be more relatable and market more like a human being.