Paula Sartini, founder and CEO of BrandQuantum, states that there are several factors that can cause serious reputational damage to brands, ranging from social media to fake news to cyber attacks.
Companies must have measures in place to minimise the possibility of reputational damage. Brand consistency, which is critical to establishing trust, can provide a layer of brand security for both organisations and their customers.
THE VALUE OF BRAND CONSISTENCY
Brand consistency is a key tool that helps customers and potential customers to recognise your brand and helps to establish relationships of trust with customers. Research findings from a survey conducted by Investis Digital and Forrester Consulting are that: ‘more than half of businesses see an improved reputation as a result of consistently communicating their brand values’.
By delivering a consistent experience in every interaction with your customers, they know what to expect when they engage with you. It also demonstrates that you take detail very seriously and gives customers confidence that you will deliver quality service to meet their needs.
This consistency can also be used to provide brand security in that should customers receive a phishing email which includes your company logo, for example, based on previous experience in dealing with your company, they would know that the email didn’t come from your organisation.
ACHIEVING BRAND CONSISTENCY
Brand consistency can only be achieved by establishing specific brand guidelines that are managed from a central department within an organisation and implemented by every employee throughout the organisation. These include the visual elements such as the logo and font colour to the tone of content used in communications. However, as employees have access to email and company materials across multiple devices and are able to create personalised customer communication as needed, achieving consistency is a great challenge for organisations.
To ensure brand security, every employee needs to know what the brand stands for, understand their role in delivering a consistent brand experience and be committed to delivering this experience in every customer communication. This will help to establish the brand’s reputation and build trust amongst its customers while aiding to secure the brand and even protect your customers from potential threats.
EASE THE PROCESS OF BRAND CONSISTENCY
While many companies have brand guidelines and standards in place, sharing these across an organisation and having all employees implement them is a real challenge for marketers today. This is supported by findings of a survey conducted by Investis Digital and Forrester Consulting which revealed that, ‘only 25 percent of businesses rate themselves as very effective at consistently managing their brand values across digital channels.’
To ease the process, employees need to be given tools that will help them to deliver consistent brand experiences at every customer touch point. All relevant documents from letterheads to sales collateral and presentations should be easy to access from a central location using the technology they have become accustomed to using daily.
Emails should be branded with beautifully designed email signatures and be written in the correct font type and colour. To provide added peace of mind for the recipient, emails should include the organisation’s unique font within the email signature as this is far harder to replicate than ordinary fonts and adds an additional layer of security.
The content should also align with the overall brand, with employees easily accessing previously developed and approved content that can be personalised to include specific client information. Attachments should be branded correctly and contain the correct information to ensure brand consistency in all communications and build brand trust.
ADHERING TO LEGAL REQUIREMENTS AND COMPLIANCY
To provide added security for both the recipient and sender, emails should adhere to legal requirements and compliancy acts such as the Privacy or Personal Information (POPI) Act and Electronic Communications Act (ECA). To achieve this, emails that contain personal information should not be shared with external parties but should only be sent via the organisation’s own internal server to the customer.
It is also important to include disclaimers with every email that the organisation sends in order to protect it against in terms of confidentiality, copyright, contract formation, defamation, discrimination, harassment, privilege and viruses. If the disclaimer is not included on the email the company could be faced with a possible lawsuit from recipients.
PUTTING THE BASICS IN PLACE
All content and branded materials should be easy to access regardless of the device or where the employee is based, whether local or global. The branded communications should be managed from a central location with tamperproof mechanisms built into the system to ensure that employees cannot make changes to documents, presentations, emails and other company information without the necessary approvals.
Ensuring brand consistency across several employees and different devices is a key challenge for several marketers today. However, it is a critical task in establishing trust with both employees and customers and requires a strategic approach to achieve success. However, technology also needs to be implemented across organisations to help ensure brand consistency in all customer engagements as this not only helps to build brand trust, but can provide a layer of added security for both the organisation and the customer.