When you see a new post on your company’s social media page, can you tell which of your employees was responsible for writing it?
On the surface, this doesn’t seem important. After all, as long as the message reaches your target audience and doesn’t harm your brand’s reputation, you can feel confident no damage was done. But it’s important to have your brand consistently represented—especially as your team grows in size and diversity. Thankfully, there are a few effective strategies that can ensure your brand’s public image remains consistent, no matter who’s representing it.
Why consistency is so important
Every public interaction from your brand, whether it’s in a press release, a social media post, or even a customer service interaction, should fall in line with your brand standards, adhering to a unique voice you created for that identity. With consistency, you’ll be able to cement the identity of your brand, encourage more loyalty from your followers, and ensure that every one of your customers has a similar experience (and perception of your company).
Even small deviations can be problematic; if a customer gets two different experiences when talking to a representative, one warm and one cold, they won’t have a consistent basis on which to judge your brand, and they may stray to a competitor as a result. If there’s no unity in your brand voice, your brand won’t be as memorable, and you won’t attract as many followers.
The problem with multiple employees sounding off
Most companies that grow beyond the initial startup stage end up relying on multiple employees to carry out brand interactions. This is, in some cases, necessary. You can’t expect one person to handle all brand communications, nor can they be available 24/7. The problem is, our communications tend to be colored by things like our backgrounds, our personalities, and our idiosyncrasies; gather three people together and give them a general idea of what message to write, and you’ll end up with three very different finished products.
How to ensure more consistent representation
So what can you do to ensure more consistent representation across the board?
- Formalize your brand guidelines. If you haven’t already, take the time to formalize your brand guidelines. Too many small business owners define their brand based on what “feels right,” but this isn’t good enough when you’re coordinating a full team of people. Instead, concretely define what is and what isn’t acceptable for your brand, including examples of “right” and “wrong” ways to communicate.
- Issue templates. For certain types of communication, it’s best to issue a common template, which your employees can modify to fit the situation without ever deviating from the core material. For example, FreshBooks offers a plethora of free invoice templates, and you can use press release templates, email templates, and other baseline documents to streamline communications in other areas.
- Filter important messages through a single brand expert. Consider appointing a “brand expert” to serve as the final authority for all matters related to what is and what isn’t on brand for your company. Whenever a team member is about to send out a significant message from your company, they can send it to this editor to review it for brand compliance. That way, you have a single consistent voice (and vision) dictating your communications.
- Establish fields of specialty. Instead of having multiple people working on multiple different areas of communication, try to segment your employees. For example, you can have one point person in charge of each of your social media profiles, while another person focuses on press releases and news updates, and yet another focuses on blog work. This way, you’ll minimize overlap of personal voices.
- Allow and acknowledge some personal variance. The influence of personal voices on your brand voice isn’t always a bad thing; in fact, it can make your content seem more authentic. But it’s best if you keep these personal variances under control. For example, you could encourage your employees to sign their first name or first initial on social media posts they’ve drafted, so audience members can see the variables between representatives.
- Minimize shift overlap. Try not to allow shift overlap on social media; in other words, don’t have multiple people answering follower questions or engaging with people at the same time. The result can be a schizophrenic mess, and you could end up replying to the same people multiple times over.
- Monitor and review brand interactions routinely. Set up a system to monitor your brand interactions, and review them for brand accuracy and effectiveness. That way, you can proactively identify key weaknesses or areas that need improvement, and work together to design and enforce new procedures to correct for them.
With these practical guidelines in place, you can greatly improve the consistency of your brand communications, and ensure all your employees are on the same page. It takes time and discipline to achieve this level of uniformity, but the results are worth it.