The fascinating science behind why brand consistency matters

One of the most important things about branding is consistency. How your business’s brand appears on social media and in real life, should look and feel the same. This means your business’s colour palette, logo, style and font. An example of this is when you walk into McDonald’s you know to expect to see yellow and red, the brand colours, the Golden Arches of the big yellow M. Now imagine if you went in one day and everything was purple, the packaging was different. The Golden Arches were no longer golden, and the M was blocky instead of curved. Things would feel very strange, you’d wonder if you were in the right place, had you really just walked into McDonald’s or were you somewhere else? Similarly, your customers need the same assurances when they visit your website and interact with your business.

But consistency is not just about feelings around brands, we also need to consider how consistency feeds into decision-making. Jing Reilly is a cyberpsychologist with over 10 years of marketing experience. She understands the science of why consistency is important for branding and to shape human behaviour. Together, we spoke about how businesses can use branding to build relationships and loyalty with their customers.

Why is consistency important to human behaviour?

Consistency has two main roles from a psychological and behavioural science perspective. Firstly, it’s a shortcut – our brains are constantly looking for patterns. If I [ Jing ] say “5, 10, 15” and ask you to guess what number comes next you’ll guess “20.” The second thing is that humans are associating machines, we make decisions based on things we already know and experiences we’ve already had. Every time we see something we try to recall if this is something we already know, something relevant to us. Brands can actually be associated with a particular word or words because our brains want to associate things in that way. An example of this is if I [ Jing ] give you three words that don’t seem to be connected: cottage, Swiss and cake. Now think of a word associated with all three. Even though I never mention the word cheese, that’s what our brain associates with all three.

How can consistency and familiarity build a successful brand?

By being consistent you can turn the unfamiliar into something familiar. If we experience a brand or another person acting out of character then we think something is wrong and it’s hard to trust them. We can experience this even when we see an actor who we’re used to seeing in a particular role on our screens. If they behave completely differently in an interview to the character that we love, we feel uncomfortable, even though we know they’re just playing a role – that’s not the real person. We saw this in some of the online reactions to the Friends Reunion show. People were expecting to see Chandler and were a bit disappointed when it was Matthew Perry instead!

How can small business owners help our customers to choose our brand, to become loyal to and buy from us?

We have the power to influence other people’s decision-making but first, we have to realise how many decisions people make every day. We make approximately 35,000 decisions every day which is why our brains have to take shortcuts. Our automatic system does 98% of the work for us, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to cope, it’s too overwhelming. As a brand owner, you should do whatever you can do to help your customers, to remove the friction, and make it easier for them to do business with you.

So the key takeaway from our conversation together, is that consistency matters to make decision-making easier for our customers. Allow your customers to get a sense of familiarity. Being consistent helps customers to know what to expect, which in turn will build better brand loyalty.

To find out more about how to elevate your business into a brand, learn more about MAKER Elevate.

Watch the full conversation here in this episode of the MAKER Elevate chat series:

MAKER Elevate is a programme designed for small businesses that would like a more cohesive and consistent brand that builds trust & loyalty with their customers. The programme looks at your brand as a whole to see how you are communicating what your brand does and what it stands for. (Coming soon in 2022)

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