Article first published on businesslive.co.za, written by Paula Sartini, 3 April 2019 | see article here
It is imperative that companies have measures in place to minimise the possibility of reputational damage. Brand consistency is one of those measures.
Several factors cause serious reputational damage to brands these days, ranging from social media to fake news and cyberattacks. It’s therefore imperative that companies have measures in place to minimise the possibility of reputational damage. Brand consistency is one of those measures.
THE VALUE OF BRAND CONSISTENCY
Brand consistency is a vital tool that helps customers and potential customers to recognise a brand and helps to establish relationships of trust with customers. A survey conducted by Investis Digital and Forrester Consulting found that “more than half of businesses see an improved reputation as a result of consistently communicating their brand values”.
When you deliver a consistent experience in every interaction with 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 provides brand security: should customers receive a phishing e-mail which includes your company logo, for example, they would know – based on previous experience – that the e-mail didn’t come from your organisation.
ACHIEVING BRAND CONSISTENCY
Brand consistency can be achieved only when specific brand guidelines are established, managed from a central department in an organisation and implemented by every employee. These include visual elements such as the logo and font colour, as well as the tone of content used in communications. However, as employees have access to e-mail 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, all employees need to know what the brand stands for, understand their role in delivering a consistent brand experience and be committed to delivering such experience in every customer communication. Not only does this help establish the brand’s reputation, build trust and assist in securing the brand, it can even protect customers from potential threats.
EASING 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. The survey reveals that “only 25% 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 deliver consistent brand experiences at every customer touch point. All relevant documents, from letterheads to sales collateral and presentations, should be easy to obtain from a central location using the technology that the staff has become accustomed to using daily.
THE BIG TAKE-OUT
Brand consistency in all customer engagements helps to build brand trust and can provide a layer of security for organisations and their customers.
E-mails should be branded with beautifully designed e-mail signatures, and should be written in the correct font type and colour. To provide added peace of mind for the recipient, e-mails should include the organisation’s unique font in the signature, as this is far harder to replicate than ordinary fonts and adds an additional layer of security.
The content should also be aligned with the overall brand. Employees should have easy access to predeveloped and pre-approved content that can be personalised to include specific client information. Attachments should be branded correctly and need to contain the correct information to ensure brand consistency in all communications and to build brand trust.
ADHERING TO LEGAL REQUIREMENTS
E-mails should adhere to legal requirements such as those in the Privacy of Personal Information Act and the Electronic Communications Act. To achieve this, e-mails that contain personal information should not be shared with external parties but must be sent to the customer only through the organisation’s own internal server.
Disclaimers should be included in every e-mail to protect confidentiality, privilege, copyright and contract information, for example, and to avoid defamation, discrimination, harassment and viruses. Without a disclaimer the company could be faced with a possible lawsuit from recipients.
PUTTING THE BASICS IN PLACE
It should be easy to obtain access to all content and branded materials, regardless of the device or where the employee is based. Branded communications should be managed from a central location. Tamperproof mechanisms need to be built into the system to ensure that employees can’t make changes to documents, presentations, e-mails and other company information without the necessary approvals.
Ensuring brand consistency across employees and devices is a critical task in establishing trust with both employees and customers. It requires a strategic approach. Technology also needs to be implemented across organisations to help ensure brand consistency in all customer engagements, as this can provide a layer of added security for both the organisation and the customer.