The owner of a new restaurant wants to create the perception of a top-tier establishment, serving the finest food and drink to those who want and can afford the very best. If she creates a beautiful ad campaign and spends money on striking interior design but serves food that’s only ordinary, she will invalidate the expectations she generated in the first phase of her branding process. In the same way, she can build mental value with a well-dressed staff and perfectly prepared food, but if the restroom looks like it belongs in a truck stop, her carefully crafted image can be irreparably damaged and she may lose future customers. To establish value in the mind, each impression must support the mental picture that the offering promises. Each impression is a micro investment in the brand – a coin deposited into a mental piggy bank. When enough impressions have been deposited, the collected value of those efforts is returned to the entrepreneur through the sales they create. The mental impression of value can only be created by consistency.
When we meet someone new it takes time before we’re willing to trust them, and this is as true with businesses as it is with individuals. If your auto mechanic consistently provides good service, carefully explaining what needs to be done and why, you’ll be more likely to trust her when she informs you that you need major work done. If the chef at the corner bakery always makes good food, you may develop enough trust to have him cater an important party. This same dynamic extends to your communications. If your business offers the same message and personality over a long period, customers can develop expectations that translate into buying habits. If you get what you want every time, why go anywhere else? Consistency builds trust.
It’s precisely this dynamic that has enabled Coca-Cola and McDonalds to grow and maintain enormous customer bases. People know what they will get for their money, and that consistency – both in the offerings and in the communications that surround them – move that interaction closer to the realm of habit. Consistency builds habits.
Consistent branding can only be achieved by branding through the entire customer experience. If every interaction clearly reinforces the same message, your customers will more easily remember who you are and what you offer. Disney is one of the businesses that has most clearly defined each tiny aspect of the customer experience, and they have built a large, dedicated customer base as a result. If your brand is consistent, customers won’t feel the need to look any further — they know that they’ll get what they need from your business.