If someone you know talked to you in a different tone of voice every time you spoke, you’d think they were crazy right? The same is true for your business. If you talk to people very seriously and technically on your website and have a Facebook page filled with conversational banter and lighthearted news stories, people might not really get who you are. And, you won’t likely make a lasting impression.
Content can be your path to building trust, credibility and a great reputation with people. In a blog post on the ConFab blog, Jonathan Coleman, Principal Experience Architect at REI wrote, “We probably share the belief that high-quality content makes for high-quality brands that endure far longer than just a day, a campaign, or a season. Truly great content — and the core values that drive it — is the foundation of brands that last for a century or longer.”
So just because content has become one of the most talked about marketing “buzzwords” of the century, it doesn’t mean that the content you create should be short-sighted or short term. The value, quality and consistency of your content can set the foundation of your entire business and the relationships you have with your customers.
Continuity in Your Story
Inconsistency in your company story, which includes your tone, messages, look, products and services, will make you seem like a business with multiple personality disorder. And no one wants to do business with a brand with an identity crisis.
Everything about your company must be consistent from the inside out. From your company culture to every communication with customers, your story must have continuity and shine through in all that you do – from your website to emails, social media channels, videos, blog, packaging, and even your customer service conversations. Being consistent at every touch point helps people determine if they want to do business with you and helps build customer loyalty.
Your brand story must be told consistently throughout all of your content channels.
It’s important to understand that not all of your customers and prospects are connected to your brand in the same way. That’s why consistency is essential. People can choose to receive information from you at just one or a variety of different channels. If you publish a new blog post, it doesn’t mean that your Facebook fans saw it, your Twitter followers read it, or your e-mail newsletter subscribers noticed it. That’s why content needs to be shared in every different channel you have, for maximum impact.
Keeping content consistent in terms of your brand and positioning is crucial, but context also matters. The message may be essentially the same, and it should be, but always be aware of the context. The way you talk to people and share information on Facebook, Twitter and your blog are different. When do you need a visual? When do you need to be succinct? When is a longer explanation necessary? When is a strong call to action important? Content must be consistent but also complementary to context.
Who Gets It Right?
There are lots of bad examples of companies who are getting it wrong but I don’t want to point fingers. There are great examples of brands who consistently hit the mark from start to finish. Here are just a few:
Groupon’s tone is so distinct, and easily recognized, that people often refer to it as “groupon-style.” It’s witty, tongue-in-cheek and highly entertaining. And, if you received a Groupon email written in a dry, factual tone, you’d probably think you were just missing the joke. Groupon has managed to create continuity throughout all of their content despite having a huge team of writers creating content in offices throughout the country. Here's an example:
Since 1879, way before the trend toward healthy-living began Grape-Nuts shared its commitment to healthy living into a motivational crusade across all communication points.
Even today, it uses the theme of “What’s Your Mountain?” to encourage consumers to tackle challenges by staying healthy and true to themselves. It’s website says, “Whether you’re pushing through a tough workout, or simply trying to create a wholesome and healthy lifestyle, the natural whole-grain goodness of Grape-Nuts packs the power to help you climb your personal mountain.”
This message is supported by television spots showing historic footage of famous athletes achieving their goals with the help of Grape-Nuts. Its Facebook page keeps to the theme by asking fans, “What mountain are you conquering today?”
Grape-Nuts also sponsors inspirational videos and articles on Patch.com to showcase people striving for positive change and healthy lifestyles. Their message of staying healthy and motivated is even carried offline to special events, including one held in Manhattan, featuring a 30-foot rock wall that people could climb and attach a pennant questioning, “What’s Your Mountain?”
Confusion is devastating to a brand, so make sure your content is always consistent with your core positioning, key messages and image. If your brand story has holes and your messages are all over the place, your customers will certainly find another business that they can rely on to consistently meet their expectations.
To learn how to keep your content consistent, and find lots of examples of brands who are getting it right (ok and some who aren’t) check out a free preview of our book Brands in Glass Houses on Amazon.