READING TIME: 3 MINUTES
In part 1 of this series of articles, we discussed the importance of differentiation for brand management. We learned how to successfully position a brand through perceptual maps and how points of parity and points of difference need to be balanced. In this post I focus on the principle of consistency and provide you with some content strategy tactics for consistent communication.
The longer you study brand strategies of different companies, the more you recognize that consistency in brand communications is a rare phenomenon. It seems that even the world’s most successful and renowned brands struggle with committing themselves to a long-term brand strategy. I sometimes have the feeling that many C-suites refer the term “long-term” to their own carriers. The result is a changing brand strategy, whenever these executives change. In fact this pattern is the probably most dangerous thing for a long-term-oriented brand.
Besides changing C-levels, also the following aspects challenge consistent communication:
- The urge to change: In a world where “instant” is the paradigm of a whole generation (millennials), change happens within shorter time spans and more regularly. That also applies for brand strategies.
- The power of creativity: Creative brand messages play a fundamental role when it comes to emotionally bonding and successful branding. Too much creativity might be problematic though. Brand managers need to withstand the urge to establish a new brand strategy just for the sake of being creative.
- The compulsion to monitor: Big corporations often have powerful brand equity monitoring systems. Different dashboards deliver forecasts to developmental processes in regard to brand KPIs. Managers are good advised to not use these market insights and monitoring systems to decide long-term strategies (like brand strategies) based on short-term analytics.
Consistent brand messages build memory structures
Consistent communication combined with emotionally bonding messages and experiences lead to strong memory structures within a brand’s target group. Brand leadership is all about building and nurturing these structures in order to recall them whenever necessary. For example when a product’s life cycle ends. But why is that important?
- Already in 1993, brand management expert Kevin Lane Keller stated that products and services, which are linked to memory structures, show significantly better market performance.
- This results in increased payment reserves, an increased frequency of purchasing and a higher brand trust.
- Memory structures are vital for strong brand knowledge, which is an operationalization method to determine a brand’s value. Brand knowledge merges brand awareness (target group knows the brand) and brand image (what the target group associates with a brand). Both parameters are highly relevant, when it comes to buying decisions.
A brand that managed to stay within a person’s relevant set needs to stay interesting. Therefor it’s necessary to tell different compelling stories, which nevertheless always build on the same brand messages. Those are derived from the core values in the brand architecture. By doing so, consistent communication maintains the memory structures in the consumer’s heads and thereby contributes to increased sales numbers.
Consistent Communication – a message architecture helps
This is now the point where we shift from branding basics to content strategy. For those of you, who are not familiar with this term, let me provide you with a definition from the Content Strategy Consortium:
“Content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.”
Margot Bloomstein, author of the book “Content Strategy at Work”, is a renowned brand and content strategist. She developed a comprehensive technique, which enables brands to develop a sustainable message architecture that leads to consistent communication. Before we have a look at how to create such a message architecture, let’s find out what it actually is and what it can do for you:
- A message architecture is a hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary (Margot Bloomstein, SlideShare)
- It provides a clear framework for copywriters and content creators in regard to text style, sentence structure and tone & voice
- It drives consistent UX and interaction design (photo angles, background colors, headline styles etc.) as well as consistent communication (nomenclature, content types, content models, CTAs (call to action))
To sum it up, we can state that:
“Message architecture drives consistent user experience, visually and verbally (Margot Bloomstein, SlideShare)
As we now understand the importance and benefits of a well-elaborated message architecture, it’s time to find out how to develop it. If you want to do so, please follow this link and read my step-by-step guide for developing a message architecture through cardsorting.
Consistent communication is crucial for a long-term brand strategy due to its ability to build memory structures in the heads of our consumers. For this reason, I’m convinced that developing a message architecture truly belongs to the very basics of branding. In the last article of this series, I’m going to explain the concept of resonance and why it’s important for managing a brand. I would appreciate, if you subscribe to my newsletter below in order to not miss it.
Margot Bloomstein: Content Strategy at Work
Margot Bloomstein: “Base your content strategy on a message architecture CongresCM”