Why It All Starts (And Stops) With Consistency

When marketers talk about consistency, they are often referring to the look-and-feel. They say you should stick with the same colors, same design style, same typefaces, etc. When operations people talk about consistency, they usually mean staff doing things the same way and following procedures. Both are right.

In order to build your brand, you have to be consistent with everything you say and everything you do. When your organization is saying different things, doing different things and going in different directions, people can’t draw a bead on you. They have no clear picture about who you are or what you really stand for. This is why consistency (Step 1 Consistency, in the diagram below) is so important to your organization’s brand. You have to be consistent from one channel to the next, one person to the next, one ad to the next, one day to the next.

Humans have highly-tuned radar that alerts us to inconsistencies, whether that be the way things appear or the way things behave. We seem to be inertly wired to sense and suspect anything around us that speaks or acts erratic. We inherently distrust anything incongruous. We aren’t willing to get close to someone (or something, like your financial institution) when we can’t figure out what they are about. Who knows what they’ll do? Who knows what they’ll say next?

We are only able to progress to the next step and approach someone when we have narrowed down their behaviors within a predictably narrow range (Step 2 Familiarity).

Trust (Step 3) is the almighty bedrock of every financial relationship. Without a basic level of trust, people won’t do business with your financial institution. When you look and act inconsistently, people can’t trust you. In fact, they won’t even bother getting to know you.

When a customer gets one answer from a teller and a different answer from someone in your call center, your inconsistencies are going to undermine that customer’s trust. If two different branches use two different policies or procedures, your inconsistencies are going to piss customers off — no way to build customer loyalty.

The only way you’re going to build loyal customers (Step 4 Loyalty) is doing and saying the same things consistently over many years. You’ve got to say what you mean, do what you say, and get it done when and how you promised.

If you do all this — consistently — then you might be fortunate to develop “brand evangelists” (Step 5). These folks are so impressed and grateful for the reliable service experience you deliver that they’ll gleefully advocate for you. And what’s
more valuable than a glowing word-of-mouth recommendation from a loyal and enthusiastic customer?

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