Every day, thousands of new startups are founded (~130,000). Each of these startups is on a mission of their own. They are pumped to share that mission with the world.
Encouragingly, there are so many channels through which a startup can share their story and build a following. But when your company is trying to find traction in so many different ways, including delving into the minutiae of growth hacking, there is no chance of success without making sure you have achieved one other key thing: brand consistency.
In Gabriel Weinberg’s and Justin Mares’ book Traction, they describe 19 traction channels through which a startup can build momentum. These are viral marketing, PR, unconventional PR, SEM, social and display ads, offline ads, SEO, content marketing, email marketing, engineering as marketing, target market blogs, BD, sales, affiliate programs, existing platforms, trade shows, offline events, speaking engagements and community building.
Yet this list doesn’t even split out social into the many different channels we all know so well. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vimeo and Quora to mention a few.
In short, there are a lot of different channels and this means lots of testing.
For the growth hackers out there, testing can be fun. You put your Facebook pixel into the mix with your UTM parameters and you throw a Google tag in for good measure, and you get some lovely charts to chew over. All these tools are superb. You can analyse exactly what is working and what isn’t, right down to the copy on your website or your Google AdWords.
But even with all the growth hacking tools in the toolbox, nothing changes the fact that there are an awful lot of different channels and, therefore, customer “touchpoints” for your startup to maintain and make look good.
What do we mean by a touchpoint? A touchpoint is any interface between your company and the outside world.
In the past, there were only a few well-established touchpoints for your business. Today, we are seeing an ever-increasing and fragmented set of touchpoints, each of which might be the next big win in your marketing campaign and the one (to quote the Traction authors) to ‘move the needle’ for your startup’s growth. In fact, the number of touchpoints is going up at such a rate, we could even try and coin a new law akin to Moore’s law but for marketing touchpoints!
Each touchpoint gives outsiders a window through which to view and make judgments about your startup. Your website, your product, every single business card, email, advert, social post and press-release is a representation of your startup and is judged by its recipients. And so you have to manage these touchpoints to ensure they reveal you and your company in the best possible light (this comes down to your brand), but also in the same light (this comes down to your brand consistency).
With so many touchpoints, it becomes difficult to maintain brand consistency. As your startup grows, when different people are managing different touchpoints, it becomes increasingly complex and time-consuming to broadcast one coherent and consistent brand image.
Since social media is relatively new, and growth hacking is even newer, the state of the art in brand management has not caught up with the latest technical methods for expanding your business and this can have a detrimental effect on your startup’s progress.
Time for a few stats.
“71% of us believe brand inconsistency creates confusion in the market.”
This is unsurprising. Of course, having an inconsistent brand is going to confuse potential customers, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously. More importantly though, this can have an effect on the credibility of your brand:
“56% of us believe brand inconsistency damages a company’s reputation.”
This is bad news for those who are struggling with brand consistency since a company’s reputation is so important. But, in both of the above facts, there is no measure of quite how damaging brand inconsistency can be. If the damage is small then these stats are meaningless. What about for those companies who have maintained a consistent brand. Can we see a measurable benefit?
“85% of us attribute at least 10% of our company’s growth to brand consistency.”
This is interesting. It shows the importance people place on the consistency of their own brand in building their business. It shows that brand consistency can sizeably affect your chances of growth and success. What is even more interesting is that brand consistency also affects the bottom line:
“The average revenue increase attributed to always presenting your brand consistently is 23%.”
This is a huge amount of revenue generated by simply managing your brand correctly. Now my immediate thought is — how was this stat measured? Upon reading the small print, I learnt that the respondents of the survey from where these stats originated (see link at bottom), who come from a mixture of different sized businesses, were asked to give their opinion on how much they thought brand consistency impacted their revenue. So it is based on opinion, not fact, but, in any case, it is a stat that catches my eye.
In whichever way we choose to interpret these stats, what they all show is that there is, without doubt, a correlation between brand consistency and growth. What they tell us is that, before you embark on clever marketing strategies across multiple touchpoints, you need to sort out the first piece of the puzzle: you need to sort out your brand and learn how to manage it so that every touchpoint and everyone in your startup is consistent in their communication of your brand. This is the top priority.
But how do we become more brand consistent?
It is very clear from the above stats that brand consistency is important for the growth and success of your startup, but how do we achieve brand consistency? Let us look at another stat.
“When formal guidelines exist that are enforced, we are more than twice as likely to also see a consistent presentation of our brand.”
So formal brand guidelines can help us with brand consistency. But there is something I don’t like about this sentence. It is the word “enforced”. Why should anything have to be enforced when software has the ability to make everything so easy? I would prefer to see this sentence written using the carrot, not the stick. Perhaps something like…
“When your brand and its guidelines are visual, interactive and at your fingertips, you will, by design, always see a consistent presentation of your brand.”
Currently, 60% of us say that our brand guidelines are hard to find, hidden away in some file system, in pdf format. When we are all so accustomed to working so quickly on our computers, the thought of digging through our storage for a pdf to stay on brand, because we are “enforced” to do so… this is just not going to happen. We just cut corners instead.
We need to find a better way to interact with our brand identity. We need to find a way to bring it to life, rather than have them just sitting there as assets and guidelines in a pdf. Brand consistency can have a dramatic impact on your brand clarity, brand credibility and your bottom line, so let’s all make an effort to be on brand by changing how we store and interact with our brand.
For a new way to be on brand, to keep your team on brand, and to achieve brand consistency, check out Pilcro here and here is a pilcro(w) ¶. Pilcro offers free brand management software for G-Suite and is free for teams of up to 4 people.