Is “brand consistency” code for “have a boring brand?” Let’s see …
Imagine going to a new restaurant.
You walk in and are greeted by a pleasant hostess, who seats you at their best table.
The food smells amazing, and you can’t wait to order.
Unfortunately when you open the menu—it’s in Japanese.
There must be some mistake. You wait for the waitress to come and ask for English menus, only to find she speaks French!
At this point, you are so fed up (not to mention hungry) that you just leave and head to the pizza joint down the way.
Customer experience is about brand consistency
Brand consistency is crucial to customer experience.
This is true in the visual design of your logo, website, and other brand images, as well as the content you create to represent your brand online and off.
If a customer experiences a different look, feel, or voice in one or more of the channels your company uses to communicate, it instantly dilutes their trust and confidence.
Unfortunately, maintaining brand consistency is easier said than done.
As your organization and team grow, it’s imperative to create guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page.
That’s why when it comes to your visual identity, you create brand guidelines. And likewise, when it comes to your messaging, you create a personality document.
Related: Free Brand Personality Quiz
What is a brand personality document?
A personality document is a messaging guide which lays out the voice and identity (or personality) of your brand.
It ensures brand consistency in voice and messaging across all customer touch points.
This includes both online (website, blog, other content, social media platforms, even guest blog posts) and offline (store locations, events, conferences), and by all employees.
It should be included in your communications strategy and align with the objectives and tactics presented there.
It must be used by all team members speaking for your brand, through all four media types (paid, earned, shared, owned—per the PESO model).
A personality document includes:
- Key messages, elevator pitch, and boilerplate (standard wording)
- Mission statement and values
- Target audience overview
- Tone and voice guidelines
- Industry specific lingo (to use and to avoid)
Document your messaging for better brand consistency
Personality documents range from the basic to the very detailed. A good rule of thumb is the larger the organization, the more detail the personality document should be.
Team members are more degrees of separation away from the core leadership. Because of this, messaging and voice has a greater tendency to become altered and distorted the more people there are communicating it.
Remember when you played a game of telephone as a child? The more people who shared the original message, the more distorted it became, until it was unrecognizable at the end.
If you want brand consistency, avoid message distortions by documenting your brand sooner rather than later.
In addition, the more nuanced or sensitive your industry, the more specific it needs to be.
For example in the financial, insurance, or medical industry, there are very strict brand consistency guidelines that spell out what you can and cannot say.
These need to be included in your personality document—along with any specific disclosures or language which must be used (or avoided).
The 6 core elements of a brand personality document
Let’s break down each of the main elements of the brand personality document to help you create a template for your own organization.
- Key Messages: Key messages tell your consumer who you are and how you can help them. They are written for the consumer and speak directly to their needs. You should have one overarching key message and several secondary messages.
- Mission Statement: Why do you do what you do? Why does your business exist? While the key messages are the external messages you want to project, the mission statement has an internally-directed focus. They must be clearly related and connected but can have slightly different perspectives.
- Ideal Customers(s): Who are you talking to? This section is where you’ll lay out your buyer personas and any other information relevant to understanding your customer. If you have actual customer profiles, include these here.
- Voice and Tone Guidelines: What five adjectives describe your company? Would your employees and customers agree? List these out and describe how your organization lives them. In the end, you should have several sentences formatted like this: “Our brand is (insert adjective) because we (insert reason).”
- Qualifiers: These will relate to values and mission, but also help represent the unique aspects of your organization’s personality. They are the nuances that make you different and help define you. They also help provide structure for what is and is not OK when it comes to presenting your company voice. These statements should look like this :
- Industry Guidelines and Language: This is where you include any language, restrictions, or other guidelines specific for your industry.
Be alive. Be relevant.
A personality document must be a living document, and it cannot be created in a vacuum.
The best personality documents are created with input from all levels of customer touch points, and combine the values, mission, and goals of the organization with real-life interaction with consumers. The information both of these sides provide is what creates the perfect knowledge base to guide your organization’s voice.
It should be distributed to all team members and revisited semi-annually. Smart organizations continue to evolve about the best way to communicate with their audiences.
Your organization’s personality is an important part of who you are as a company and what defines you for your customers—don’t be afraid to let it shine with breathtaking brand consistency.
Get your personality down on paper so you can benefit from communicating your business’s identity with breathtaking consistency!