A recession brings change. The recession triggered by the Covid-19 crisis will bring more change than most. The UK economy shrank by 2% in March. 7.5 million workers have been furloughed. And some forecasts predict unemployment could hit 10%. In this situation it’s important to understand why consistency is important in a recession.
In a situation where everything is changing, it’s good to be something that isn’t. If your business can be consistent through a recession, in the way you look, in what you say and in what you do, you will build trust. This trust will help you to win – as well as retain – customers. Not just through the recession, but into the recovery as well.
Your brand is fundamental to establishing consistency. There are two dimensions to consistency. The first is consistency in what your business stands for – the values that your business represents. This is captured in your brand strategy. The second dimension is consistency in how you communicate – the image your business projects. This is created by your brand identity.
Your brand strategy
Your brand is the experience that people have of your business. It’s what people think about your business – you can think of it as your reputation. A brand strategy is simply a plan for how to harness your brand, so it can drive your business success.
There are many elements that are combined to form your brand strategy. The foundation is your “purpose”. Your purpose is a statement that describes why you do business – what it is that drives you. Another element of your brand strategy are your values. Your values are a set of guiding principles that influence how you do business. They translate your purpose into actions and behaviour. Your brand proposition is the final element that we are going to consider. Your proposition is a statement that describes the benefit you deliver to your customers. It should persuade your customers to buy from you, not your competitors.
When these elements are communicated consistently, as part of your brand strategy, they become a valuable asset. They can influence what customers think and how they behave.
Your brand identity
Your brand identity consists of six elements: your logo, colour palette, typeface, imagery, language and design style. These six elements provide the raw materials you need to communicate consistently in print, in person or online.
A brand guidelines document is an essential companion to any brand identity. A brand guidelines document explains how to use the elements of the brand identity. This creates consistency. It’s important to give somebody in your business the responsibility for brand management. They can ensure the consistency of your communication. The brand guidelines act as a reference point.
Consistency is always valuable for a business. But it’s even more valuable to understand why consistency is important in a recession. We have taken a look at some of the benefits.
It builds trust
Firstly, a consistent brand will build trust. In a time of uncertainty, trust is a valuable commodity. Creating consistent communication, across multiple channels, demonstrates reliability. The ability to deliver a consistent message, repeatedly, will reassure existing customers. It will also begin to build trust in new customers. This can be particularly valuable if you want to break into new markets.
It increases recognition
Secondly, a consistent brand increases recognition of your company and your products and services. That is incredibly valuable, in a confused and crowded environment. Make the colour, style and message of your marketing material the same every time people see it. In this way it will become familiar much more quickly. It’s important to transfer this consistency between your printed material and your digital content. It will enable you to raise your profile more effectively.
It saves time
Thirdly, consistent brand saves time. You need a set of rules to follow, that explain how to use the elements of your brand identity. As a result of these rules, you can design your marketing material more quickly. These rules are your brand guidelines. Whether you need to communicate in print, in person, or online, they will provide the foundation for a consistent brand identity. In a situation that is unstable and uncertain, a comprehensive brand identity (with brand guidelines) is really valuable. They will enable you to respond quickly, to meet changing needs and expectations.
To realise these benefits you need to exercise thorough brand management. Consistency takes an initial investment of time, energy and money. But the rewards we have listed above will give you a competitive advantage over your rivals. In an uncertain economy, that can create a path to success. This is why consistency is important in a recession.