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Brand consistency is the future

February 10, 2011

For marketers developing a multi-channel strategy for their brand, whether you are a small or large business; 2011 should definitely be the year for ensuring consistency of all your brand messages. Over the next year, it would be great to see all marketers ensuring that each of their communication platforms,reflect exactly the same brand experience.

Emails can affect your brand in two ways; via their indirect effect on recipient perceptions and also through deliberate measures you take to support that brand within your campaigns or newsletters. With this in mind; here are some key points which the on line marketer should consider when planning an email campaign.

Develop an email style guide

Of course, brand is more than just a “design” style guide; it is also about personality, voice, style, language, humour, attitude, degree of familiarity, and culture. The specific rules that you develop for your email style guide may have to be deliberately different, depending on target segments. For example: a sports retailer may speak very differently to snow boarders, than it would to lady golfers.

You may find that response rates to your email, can change dramatically based on segments, as well as the use of voice, humour, personality and other factors.If you're not sure of the rules to set for all your variables are, probably best to run some tests.

Here are some of the things that can dramatically affect an email campaign's ability to carry a brand. All should be accounted for in your email style guide:

Tone of voice

Is your brand calm, confident and funky like Innocent drinks, or is it noisy and energetic like Iron Bru? Make sure that your style guide addresses the general tone of voice that all your companies' emails should contain. Imagine a cold-hearted mass email coming from Innocent, or a diary-style rambling message from Iron Bru?  This tone of email would ruin each brand.

Personality and humour

Our personalities and senses of humour are part of what makes us who we are. Your company also has a personality, or perhaps it doesn't have one for a very specific reason.Microsoft doesn't have a "personal" personality, and seems a faceless company, but yet it works just as it is. Part of the mystery of a software technology business is the black-box effect and so not having a personality to relate to at  Microsoft is OK.

Tyre and exhaust centres were notoriously personality-free, until Kwik Fit came along to deliberately change perceptions, by showing friendly looking workers dancing around with spanners singing the catch line “You can’t get better than a Kwik Fit fitter.” So, all Kwik Fit email messages should be consistently warm and friendly.

Use a branded email template

Once you’ve developed your style guide, as emails are so visual; using professional, branded email templates is a good move, because the overall look is the first thing subscribers will notice, before they’ve read a single word.

Think of your marketing emails as being virtual sales people. Just because there’s no physical presence, does not mean that they should arrive in a recipient’s inbox badly presented. If a sales person wore old jeans and a tatty stained t-shirt to a client meeting; it’s highly likely that they would be shown the door and will have let your company down and damaged your brand instantly.

Incorporating your logo or company colour palette into your email, will not only help to keep your business in subscribers’ minds, but will also display a consistent theme throughout your communications, even if some of those communications are in hard copy; such as brochures or headed paper.

Many companies spend a lot of time and budget creating the right look and feel for their email. A branded email template reflects the look and feel of the site or company in question. And you may even start to enjoy higher click-through rates by using a template, because recipients trust your brand, they don't view it as being so obtrusive

Once you have decided on the design layout of your email template, use it for any that follow because many subscribers and potential customers aren’t comfortable with constant changes; they like a sense of familiarity – it suggests stability which in turn creates confidence; so it’s important that once you start you stick to it unless subscriber feedback dictates otherwise. 

Connect your channels

People communicate about different subjects in different ways on different platforms and so your brand needs to do the same. Your marketing campaigns need to consider the individual consumer’s lifestyle and preferences and offer services and products accordingly. It may well be that you customer most frequently connects with your brand through their mobile device, so ensure that their experience is as seamless there, as it on your usual e-mail and other communications.

Having a view of your customer and how they interact on different platforms is essential to ensuring that your future email campaigns address their preferences. You cannot ignore the rules of personalisation and relevance, when a customer talks to you on a social media platform. The more channels a customer uses, the more targeted they will expect the conversation to be. So while you have them on a channel, make sure you are finding out about what they want, what they need and what they like.

Combining the best features of different marketing channels and making sure they interact could add new depth to your campaign.  Traditional media and direct response methods can and should work together. Providing immediate calls to action on traditional media can be a useful way of establishing the success of campaigns, by offering a far more detailed way to track response and campaign impact. 

Check your Autoresponders!

Make sure that you check all the emails in your company for brand consistency, including your autoresponders i.e:” Thanks for registering”,” Your order has been received” and also check service emails  i.e: “We will be closed today.” Only after you've examined email from all sources in your company will you actually have a consistent brand. 

Always TEST

So you’ve done your homework. You know who your customers are, you’ve decided how to talk to them and you’ve got your message and know how to mix your communication channels to best effect.  

Stop there…before going ahead with your campaign, always just make sure that all possible combinations have been run through and tweaked so that your campaign has the best chance of generating maximum returns. 

Take a holistic approach

Brand consistency is about your business as a whole; from company colours, logo, product packaging, and quality of service and staff competence. Whatever your business size, it’s absolutely vital that your brand is the first that your target market thinks about when looking to purchase on any of your communication channels. 
If you would like to discuss your email marketing strategy or requirements, please call 0161 817 2929 or email [email protected]. We're here to help! 

Posted by Rebecca McCormick

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