I don’t have to tell you that the economy in the last few years has been tough for a brand. We’ve all lived through it, and if you’re still in business you’ve figured out how to survive in this economic environment, it was probably a combination of intention, a little luck, and a strong brand position. In an editorial released in the Journal of Brand Management, Manfred Schwaiger and Marko Sarstedt from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität argue:
“When consumers develop a corporate brand image, they build on earlier company-related experiences from multiple sources. They then create a framework for interpreting a corporate image in the present. However, this process is contingent upon environmental factors. In times of economic crisis, consumers particularly prefer brands with a heritage that denotes their credibility, reliability and authenticity.”
It’s About Your Brand
Credibility, reliability, and authenticity. Think about it. Almost every business I know that is succeeding in this environment is doing so because at it’s core, they can be counted upon. Period. They can be counted upon to return phone calls, be on time, deliver what they say they will when they say they will. I bet your experience is the same. We just don’t have time, money or patience for businesses that do not.
Just as consumers won’t tolerate inconsistency in the service a brand delivers, they also won’t tolerate it in the brand messaging as Schwaiger and Sarstedt go on to warn,
“Regardless of whether marketing managers can or cannot build on heritage elements in their brand building activities, the surge in brand advertising and media fragmentation increasingly complicate establishing clear brand associations. In fact, customers are often unintentionally given indistinct and inconsistent brand messages, resulting in brand confusion. When brands confuse consumers, they develop a negative perception of the brand equity, and the brands become dysfunctional.”
What Does this Mean for a Brand?
What it means is that a brand must be certain that any messages they introduce are consistent and congruent across all marketing channels. No question, this is a tall order, keeping Facebook, Twitter, Google +, the Website, Brochures, Radio, Print, Television, and your sales staff all coordinated and on message is difficult. But a brand that pays attention and keeps their messaging consistent will reap the rewards in this economy and spring forward into success when the economy finally rebounds.
As we move rapidly into this new year, ask yourself what more you could be doing to create brand message consistency and redouble your efforts to reduce and eliminate confusion for your consumer to enhance the perception that your business is credible, reliable, and authentic.