Brand: “a person’s gut feeling about your organisation, service or product”.

One of the absolute essential elements in being able to influence people’s feelings towards your organisation, product or service is Consistency. You only have to look at some of the biggest brands around – Apple, Coca-Cola, Google to name but three – to see that every element of every piece of marketing, every product, every message they put out into the public domain is consistent with each other.

The logo, the font, the palette, the spacing, the design, the words they use – everything is consistent. Remember when Coke tried to change flavour? It bombed and they soon reverted back to the original. Do you remember when the Royal Mail spent a fortune changing the name to Consignia at vast cost and to much derision. Have you noticed that MacDonald’s are now changing the colour scheme inside all their outlets? Ever wondered why? What message are they now trying to portray? Do the new interiors fit in with their new message? Does it affect the way you feel about that particular brand? I wonder if the packaging will start to change or if that is one step too far. What do you think?

One of my very first clients – a charity – asked me down to their offices to overhaul a leaflet. I took one look at it and all their other external marketing tools and saw one huge flaw. The message was excellent but the presentation lacked consistency. The logo was printed in all different shades of red, the typeface varied on each document and there were too many mixed messages in both word and visual.

One year later and all their external – and internal -documents carried the same message, logo, font, palette and although the focus was different for each one, they looked and felt like they came from the same family. As a result of these (and other changes), this charity has just celebrated a record-breaking 12 months! Now I’m not saying that I’m single-handedly responsible for that result but I am confident that it has certainly helped and the consistency of message and influence has made a big impact to the way the organisation sees itself, promotes itself and is able to influence its current and (more importantly) potential supporters.

Nothing harms a brand more than inconsistent messaging. It’s absolutely vital that when planning and executing your communication streams across all media (print, web, social and other digital avenues) that consistency is one of your highest goals. Here’s a few simple things to bear in mind:

Type: ensure you use the same font(s) and sizes. Have no more than two than two typefaces in play – a header font and a body font.

Palette: try to ensure that your colours remain consistent – the right CMYK mix (print) and the same RGB or #hex colours (web & digital) are the same throughout. Stick to your trinity of colours and use the same colours for the same design elements consistently.

Logo: make sure you are using the right version of your logo for the right type of media (CYMK/Pantone for print and RGB for web and digital) and try to ensure that there is consistency in the placing and the space around the logo.

Words: no matter what the nature of the media you are using, try to get some consistent key phrases in there. They will reinforce what people feel and so use positive phrases that will either confirm those feelings or make them sit up and take notice. Do the tone of your words convey the right message?

Images: What do the images you use make people feel? Charities can really use images to very powerfully affect how you feel. Just think about it. A piece of direct mail comes through your door asking for money with images of starving children. How do you feel towards both the subjects and the organisation? Now imagine you receive the same mail but the images are of smiling children. How do you feel now? What is more likely to cause you to respond? Images are an excellent tool but be consistent in what they communicate.

The Little Things: do you use the same paper stock for your printed marketing materials and what do they communicate to your audience? Email – do you sign them same way each time and do you have an email signature or email template that drives people to your site or social media? How do you answer the phone? What does that communicate to people?

All the above are really simple things you can do to enhance and influence how people feel about you, your organisation and your products or services. Remember – everything matters. Attention to the small and core elements will make a surprising difference.

Next week we’ve got a guest blog from Kim O’Rourke of Merrie Marketing who specialises in Strategic Marketing (@MerrieMarketing, www.merriemarketing.com). I’m really looking forward to reading what she has to say so be sure to tune in next Monday for  the next instalment.

Until then… have a great week!