Just reading the word can cause some people to shut down, withdraw or make a mad dash for the exit. If you happen to be one of “those sorts”, allow me to ease you into the conversation and settle your nerves with the comfort blanket of data.
Research by Lucidpress in 2022 shows that on average, brand consistency increases revenue by 23%. This means that as people get to know and trust a brand, they're more likely to buy that brand's products or take advantage of its services.
Brand consistency is about being recognizable, establishing trust, and communicating personality. With brand consistency, you can increase customer trust and loyalty. Good branding gives your organization personality, making your customers want to interact with your business.
Brand consistency means your target audience is being exposed to consistent core messages, visual branding, and other brand elements. Consistency allows your audience to begin to recognize your brand’s content more easily and they’ll be more likely to take action on that content.
According to Fergal Gylnn, as shared in a Salesforce article, it takes 6-8 marketing “touches” to generate a sales lead. As confirmed by Forbes and Curatti: It takes 5 to 7 impressions for people to remember a brand and color improves brand recognition by up to 80%.
Almost all organizations claim to have branding guidelines, but only one-fourth have formal guidelines that are consistently enforced and over 60 percent of organizations in the study report that materials are always, often or sometimes created that don’t conform to brand guidelines. The greatest negative impact of inconsistent brand presentation, reported by 71 percent, is the creation of confusion in the market.
And my 2 favorites:
73% of consumers love a brand because of helpful customer service.
With proper management, a brand can become any organization’s most valuable asset. Brand consistency has a real impact on growth and revenue, but only when it is championed and enforced. Lucid Press - The Impact of Brand Consistency Report
Now that you remember that Branding is not about fluff and a superficial image that represents your business, hopefully you can relax, breathe and let your thinking about this topic expand.
Some people say Brand is your story. Some people say Brand is all in your guests head. Others still maintain that Brand is your logo and tagline.
While all of these play a part in communicating your Brand, I have found that Brand is not so much in the heads of our guests, but in their hearts. Marty Neumeier, in his book The Brand Gap, defines a brand as “a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or organization” Your brand is “not what you say it is; it's what they say it is.” Your brand is also how a guest feels about a person, since every one of us can be perceived as having a personal brand.
This iconic business strategist pushes us to think even more deeply. He defines a charismatic brand as any product, service or organization for which people believe there is no substitute. Just think about the people you know who you are magnetized to. The person you thought about day and night and fell head over heels in love with. The place you vacationed that always draws you back. It’s all about the feeling that being with that person or spending time in that place elicits. It’s that je ne sais quoi, that at once charms, delights and lingers in our memory.
But how do we get there as a business? How do we create that compelling, unforgettable appeal which inspires our teams and guests alike to adopt and devote themselves to our brand?
There are 3 essential points from Marty’s book that can change everything about how you live in the world and run your business:
Who Do They Say You Are? (vs. Who We Say We Are)
No person or business can claim to be perfect, we all fall short of our aspirations and must constantly strive to move steadily towards the desired outcomes we have for our personal lives and our business. In business and in life, when we put a stake in the ground and state that we are committed, we bear a responsibility to first generate the self awareness that allows us to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset through education, mentorship, community and other support.
Observing a lack of integrity in our environment, contributes to negative consumer, guest and personal mindsets that express in the forms of skepticism, cynicism, apathy and fear. Some common examples are:
Someone claims to be a reliable and trustworthy friend, but constantly cancels plans at the last minute or fails to follow through on commitments.
A coworker boasts about being a team player, but consistently takes credit for other people's ideas and fails to contribute to group projects.
A politician claims to be transparent and honest, but repeatedly dodges questions or provides vague and misleading answers during interviews or press conferences.
A romantic partner professes their love and commitment, but consistently flirts with other people or engages in behaviors that indicate a lack of fidelity.
A boss presents themselves as an advocate for work-life balance and employee well-being, but consistently delivers subtle, indirect messages that working long hours, prioritizing business and going without resources that support a healthy work-life balance is the hustle mentality required to succeed.
An individual claims to be open to personal growth and self-improvement, but consistently dismisses constructive criticism and feedback from others, refusing to acknowledge any areas for improvement.
A person emphasizes the importance of learning and expanding their knowledge, yet avoids reading books, attending educational workshops, or engaging in forms of development outside of their comfort zone.
Someone speaks about the value of seeking professional help to address personal challenges, but adamantly refuses to commit to third party, professional help as an option, instead relying solely on their own limited perspective.
An individual declares their commitment to embracing diversity and inclusivity, but regularly fails to challenge their own biases and prejudices, maintaining a closed mindset towards different perspectives and experiences.
A leader claims to prioritize active listening and valuing input from their team members, but dominates conversations, interrupts others, and dismisses alternative viewpoints, thereby undermining the trust and collaboration within the team.
Say it again: No person or business can claim to be perfect, we all fall short of our aspirations and must constantly strive to move towards the desired outcomes we have for our personal lives and our business. In business and in life, when we put a stake in the ground and state that we are committed, we bear a responsibility to first generate the self awareness that allows us move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset through education, mentorship, community and other support AND we carry the commitment to follow through more and more effectively each day on what we say we are or want to be.
Much of what our guests, customers, acquaintances and colleagues observe and judge are unconscious impressions that drive their emotional reactions and behavior. Human beings are constantly subconsciously seeking safety, control, trust and belonging within their environment.
Some examples of unconscious points of observation, evaluation and judgment, are:
Consistency in actions: Noticing if words align with actions in all circumstances.
Congruent messaging: Evaluating the meaning behind words.
Honesty and transparency: Noticing what level of honest transparency is communicated about limitations and potential challenges.
Setting realistic expectations: Exaggerated claims are red flags.
Effective communication: Clear and open communication is key. Communication styles matter and must be honored for a person to develop trust. Listening is a superpower.
Accountability: Responsibility for one's actions and outcomes is crucial in delivering on promises.
Timeliness: Delivering on time or communicating why you can’t, is a fundamental aspect of keeping promises.
Quality assurance: Consistently delivering high-quality outcomes helps build a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.
Going the extra mile: Sometimes, exceeding expectations can be a powerful way to demonstrate that a person or business is delivering on their promises. Going above and beyond to provide additional value or exceptional service can leave a lasting impression, yet we must be aware that people are subconsciously seeking to receive in ways they value, not necessarily in ways you value. Listening is a superpower.
Respecting boundaries: Handshakes or hugs? Zoom camera on or off? Texting or Slack? Honoring another associate's boundaries is crucial.
Adapting to change: Circumstances may change, requiring adjustments to plans or strategies. A person or business that can adapt to unexpected situations while still delivering on their core promises shows resilience and reliability.
Soliciting feedback and continuous improvement: Actively seeking feedback to improve processes, products, or services is a way to show a commitment to delivering on promises.
To summarize, in today's interconnected world, personal branding has become an integral part of our lives. Whether we realize it or not, each of us unknowingly presents ourselves as a personal brand through our words, actions, and online presence. Just like businesses, individuals have the opportunity to build a unique brand identity and cultivate a reputation.
The Unconscious Personal Brand:
From the moment we interact with others, we start to build an impression of who they are as individuals. This impression is formed based on various factors such as their communication style, appearance, behavior, and social media presence. These elements collectively create an unconscious personal brand. People around us are constantly evaluating and making judgments based on this “brand”, shaping their perception of our character, trustworthiness, and credibility.
The Impact of First Impressions:
First impressions have a profound impact on how others perceive us, and inconsistencies in those impressions can lead to doubt and diminished belief in our personal brand. For instance, if someone presents themselves as an expert in a particular field but fails to demonstrate their knowledge or contradicts their claimed expertise, it creates a discrepancy that can erode their brand integrity. People value authenticity and expect individuals to live up to the expectations set by their initial impression.
Words and Actions: Building Blocks of Brand Integrity:
Just as with businesses, words matter in personal branding. The promises we make, the values we espouse, and the messages we communicate all contribute to the formation of our personal brand. However, actions that uphold those words matter even more. Consistently aligning our behavior with our stated beliefs and values establishes trust and credibility, reinforcing our personal brand integrity.
Consistency and Authenticity:
Consistency is a key pillar of personal branding. It encompasses being true to oneself, aligning words with actions, and presenting a cohesive image across various channels. Inconsistencies can create confusion, leading to doubts about our authenticity and diminishing our brand integrity. By consistently embodying our values, maintaining a consistent tone, and demonstrating reliability, we reinforce the integrity of our personal brand.
Personal Brand vs. Business Brand:
While personal branding shares similarities with business branding, there are crucial differences. A business brand represents a collective identity, reflecting the values, mission, and vision of an organization. Personal branding, on the other hand, focuses on an individual's unique qualities, expertise, and reputation. However, the principles of consistency and authenticity apply to both and a business’s values, vision and mission begin with the founders of that business. Businesses that fail to deliver on their brand promises suffer reputational damage, just as individuals do when their actions don't align with their personal brand.
Every interaction and impression we create contributes to our personal brand, shaping how others perceive us. Consistency and authenticity are the cornerstones of personal brand integrity. Upholding our words through consistent actions is vital to building and maintaining trust, credibility, and belief in our personal brand. By recognizing the parallels between personal and business branding, we can effectively manage and enhance our personal and business brand, positioning ourselves for success in both personal and professional realms. Remember, in the realm of personal and business branding, words matter, but actions that uphold those words matter more.
AND THIS is why before we ever address vision and brand with our clients, we take a fresh look at personal and professional values. Stay tuned for a value packed conversation on Values next week!