Whether you make stuff or sell services; whether you’re in a B2B or B2C business, online or bricks-and-mortar, non-profit, social business or you work for yourself; consistency is the secret ingredient when it comes to achieving a successful brand result.
Consistency isn’t sexy. It won’t make it onto any “fun things every organisation needs to do” list. Doing things over and again isn’t written about much in brand or management books. It’s not a burning topic in business magazines.
Being consistent is the antithesis of shiny and new. Requiring rigour and discipline, consistency is doing something once, getting it right, doing it again. Then doing it again and again and again.
In a recent Fast Company article, Josh Davis, writing about accountability (another oh so sexy topic), noted:
“Checking in consistently is what’s known as imposing a “continuous reinforcement schedule”. The goal is simply to get a similar response every time you perform a certain action. The alternative is intermittent reinforcement, where you get the same response only sometimes.”
Replace “checking in consistently” with doing things consistently, and you start to see why consistency matters. If you only do things some of the time, how are people supposed to know what to expect? If people don’t know what to expect they’ll never learn to depend on you. And if they can’t depend on you, you’re not going to earn their loyalty.
There is one thing that does get some attention when it comes to consistency — message and communications. Although using the same message in all the different places you communicate is good practice, I’m talking about consistency more broadly:
- Design products that do what they say they will do every time I use them;
- Give the same level of service, so people know what to expect;
- Set up your policies and processes so you can repeat them;
- Implement values, so employees know what’s okay and what isn’t;
- Apply what you care about across what you do so people know what you stand for;
- Do the big things and the little things with the same rigour; and
- Keep the focus even when you think you’ve got it right.
Consistency in how you do things. Consistency in why you do things. And, yes, then consistency in what you say about all those other things.
Consistency will eat creativity for lunch (to paraphrase the comment widely attributed to Peter Drucker). You can be the most creative, out there, ground-breaking, unicorn-worthy thing. But if you can’t be consistent, if I can’t count on you or it, then I don’t care. I’m not coming back. And there’s no way I’m telling my friends.
Think about an organisation you like doing business with, who you return to time and time again. I’ll lay odds that among all the other things they are, and no matter what they sell or provide, they are also consistent.
It’s not the only thing that matters, but asking “can we do this consistently” will take you a long way towards a robust, resilient brand result.
See you next week.