It’s all about consistency

A wide brand is one that takes advantage of many communication channels to present the same easy-to-understand message about the brand. Consistency is powerful. In our modern world, so crowded with messages, this aspect of marketing has taken on epic proportions. Websites, Email, social media and traditional advertising channels compete for attention, sometimes even within the same company.

The average person is so assaulted by different messages that they need to tune out everything that isn’t relevant, or they’d go crazy. Filtering stuff out has become a way of life. If your messages are fractured or inconsistent, you don’t stand a chance of making an impact.

It’s surprisingly common for an advertising channel to drive someone to a website, only to have the prospect encounter visual styling so unrelated to the previously seen messaging that he thinks this must be a different brand and clicks out. With many companies putting their websites completely in the hands of an IT department, people who have no marketing or branding knowledge, this happens all too often.

In fact, so few companies are good at brand consistency that those willing and able to widen their brand gain greater influence than ever before. They look larger, more influential. They gain online recognition fast. They stand out simply because their consistency draws attention.

Look at how Facebook took over in a very short time from MySpace. Facebook had no special magic in what it offered, but Facebook pages were comforting in their consistency, while MySpace gave too much freedom to its members, resulting in a destructive mess of pages that were hard to look at — even painful. People like consistency. When your world is turning all around you at a zillion miles an hour, consistency becomes a still center of the storm, a place you can return to. A place of refuge. That translates into both recognition and brand loyalty.

Imagine a delivery company with a fleet of trucks, every one painted a different color. They travel throughout a city, day after day, while each individual truck has no chance of gaining attention on its own. Paint them all the same — a relatively small investment — and suddenly it seems that one company dominates the city’s trucking industry. This is the essence of brandwidth, but it goes much deeper than just visual styling. It includes knowing what you want to say and sticking to the plan. The great brands haven’t changed their messaging for years, even decades. Even how the phones are answered can contribute to the consistency of messaging.

Think of the great brands. They all have the same thing in common: consistent brand messaging for decades. That’s the power of brand width. How wide is your brand?

George Pytlik

George Pytlik has been involved in the advertising industry for over 30 years and designed his first website when the Internet was one year old. He was an internationally recognized speaker on advertising and branding and served on a number of communication committees at various times throughout his career, as well as writing a regular column for Marketing magazine.

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