Your brand integrity directly impacts your products’ perceived value, as well as customer loyalty and trust in your products.
So what is brand integrity? It’s the cohesiveness of your brand’s identity. When you look at all the different touchpoints consumers have with your brand, do you see a cohesive picture of who you are and what you stand for? Or are you putting out so many versions of your brand that everyone has a different idea of what it is, including the people at your own company?
Brand integrity is about being consistent in every interaction you have with consumers. It takes work to establish, and it takes work to maintain.
Here are nine ongoing objectives you need to focus on to increase and maintain brand integrity.
1. Establish clear brand guidelines
Creating standards ensures your team can visually, verbally, physically, and digitally represent your brand in consistent ways. It’s key to building a brand consumers can instantly recognize (and ideally, one they’ll actively seek out).
Your brand guidelines should be broad and comprehensive, encompassing standards for colors, logos, imagery, voice, policies, and even employee training.
2. Set brand expectations for your employees
You need to assemble a team that can support, advocate for, and contribute toward your brand values and goals. That doesn’t necessarily mean that each team member needs to possess a specific set of qualities, but they should recognize how their role fits within your brand’s identity and impacts your reputation. Every employee should know how they’re expected to represent your brand in their own role.
3. Be selective about retail partners
You don’t want just anyone selling your products. Some retailers can do more harm than good, and they all add to or subtract from your brand integrity.
Create formal seller agreements that define what you need retailers to be capable of before they can sell your products, and include a formal process for disciplining—and when necessary—removing retail partners.
4. Give every product a role in your brand’s story
The products you sell need to fit within the brand values you’ve communicated to consumers. If they don’t, it can be confusing, or even frustrating. If a product in your catalogue doesn’t fit with your brand, it may be time to either broaden your brand’s identity or create a new brand that can better represent these outlier products.
5. Keep your promises
All it takes is one misused superlative, one exaggeration, or one unkept promise for consumers to distrust everything you say. If you don’t deliver on your promises, it creates a chasm between how you present your brand and how consumers perceive it. So make sure your sales and marketing teams are accurately representing your products and service.
6. Be the same online and in person
When there’s a disconnect between the way people experience your brand online and the way they experience it in person, it decreases your brand’s integrity.
At a minimum, your online and brick-and-mortar stores should feel like the same entity to the consumer. (If they purchase something from you online, they shouldn’t have to do anything special to return it in-store.) But ideally, every interaction should feel consistent, whether it occurs in an ad, on social media, in-store, or over the phone.
7. Own your mistakes
Mistakes that impact your customers generally reflect a failure to abide by your brand values, commitments, and identity. When a decision, oversight, or error affects your customers, being transparent and vulnerable with them can help restore the brand integrity that may have been lost as a result of the mistake. This could mean giving your customers gifts, discounts, or refunds to compensate for inconveniences, or depending on the circumstance, a formal apology.
8. Monitor your brand
You can’t create a consistent consumer experience if you aren’t paying attention to how consumers interact with your brand. Every product page for a SKU should look and feel the same, regardless of which retailer’s site it lives on, and you should be actively representing your brand by responding to customer questions.
But effective brand monitoring also means listening to what customers are saying in other places, like forums, blogs, review sites, and on social media. Whenever there’s a conversation about your brand, you should try to find relevant ways to be part of it–but at the very least, you need to be aware of it.
9. Protect your price
Your price asserts the value of your products. If a seller violates your minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policy, it temporary drives down your prices, but it can permanently drive down the perceived value of your price for the customers that see the incorrect pricing.
To protect your price, you need to establish a formal pricing policy, and you need to enforce it with tangible consequences. Be sure to document the procedure you want to follow when a seller violates your policy, so you can be consistent.
Bolster your brand integrity
When you sell products online, brand monitoring and price protection can be overwhelming. You may have to track your products across thousands of product pages, and in a single day you could have hundreds of MAP pricing violations.
To help brands protect their integrity and deliver a consistent experience, we developed Brand Monitor. Using our advanced “spidering” technology, these powerful programs crawl every product page that sells your SKUs and identify inconsistencies with your brand guidelines and pricing policy.
If brand integrity is important to you, you’ll want to see what these tools can do.