Brand, Design, Identity

Consistency is key

Why do we keep going back to our preferred supermarket for our weekly shop, favourite café for our morning coffee or local mechanic for our car service? Is it habit, maybe it’s convenience or could it be something else? We believe it is something else: TRUST. As consumers we tend to base our buying choices on trust. But why is it we trust certain organisations, products or services over others, and how, as businesses, do we build trust with our customers?

Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something. Trust is an instinct and key to us forming relationships, cooperating and, as groups and teams, achieving remarkable things.

Whether or not we trust someone depends on a number of factors including our upbringing and experiences, beliefs and values. We’re more likely to trust someone who shares our view of the world. Conversely if we’ve been a victim of a violation of trust, we’re likely to be more sceptical.

Trust and can be gained and it can be lost. We’ve all probably trusted someone only to realise later on, that trust was misplaced. Equally, there are people in our lives who we may have been sceptical of initially, but since grown to trust implicitly.

The same is true for companies.

A brand is our instinctive feeling about a product, service or organisation. In order to build a brand we must build trust with our customers.

“Brands are all about trust. That trust is built in drops and lost in buckets.” – Kevin Plank, founder, chairman and CEO of Under Armour.

So how do organisations build trust?

An organisation must first define its ‘Why’. A company’s Why is its reason for existence, i.e. what it believes, or stands for. This is often referred to as a brand promise.

The best brand promises are unique, memorable, inspiring and most importantly authentic. Some great examples include Apple, BMW, Ikea and Nike:

Apple brand promise

BMW brand promise

IKEA brand promise

Nike brand promise

The simplicity of these brand promises often belies the thought behind their carefully chosen words. Note how each of these brand promises doesn’t actually say what the companies do. There’s also no end game or finish line implied: Apple will always think different(ly), BMW will continually strive create the ultimate driving machine, Ikea will keep on making everyday life better, and Nike will continue to innovate and inspire every athlete.

“If a brand looks like a duck and swims like a dog people will distrust it” – Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap

Having defined its Why, an organisation builds trust and attracts customers by ensuring each individual artifact that comprises its identity amplifies its brand promise. Conversely, any inconsistency across its identity leads to confusion at best and mistrust at worst.

By and large, Apple have maintained this consistency brilliantly. Every single artifact or touch point of Apple’s is an extension of their “Think different” brand promise. For example:

Apple stores

Apple stores are uniquely designed to the location they are set in and provide the customers with a unique and memorable experience that flies in the face of retail convention.


Apple packaging is designed with as much care and attention as the products themselves. The clean and simple packaging is not just a container but an extension of the product itself giving the customer a unique sensory experience every time they unbox their new Apple device.

Apple Watch packaging
Apple Watch packaging


All Apple products are beautifully designed with user experience at the forefront of every design decision. There are cheaper more powerful computers, phones and mp3 players on the market, but nothing quite like an Apple.

Trust builds loyalty

Building and maintaining consistency between an organisations brand promises and its identity takes time, effort and most importantly discipline. Eventually this investment begins to reap rewards as the trust that has been established and built, grows into loyalty. Loyal customer will actively seek out an organisation, service or product, in favour of others.

Advocacy grows from loyalty. An advocate will actively recommend an organisation, service or product to others. When you have advocates, you’re on the pathway to success.

Next time…

We’ll be talking about about colour, and how we can use different colours in our visual identity to evoke different emotions and feelings.

Want to stand out from the crowd?

If this post has sparked your curiosity, you want to know more about what we do or are looking to stand out from the crowd, we’d love to hear from you.

References and further reading:

‘The Brand Gap’ – Marty Newmeier
‘Rethinking Trust’ – Roderick M. Kramer, Harvard Business Review
‘5 Strategies for How to Make Customers Trust Your Brand’ – Thomas Smale, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific
‘Brand Consistency: Learn Strategies That Build Business Value’ – Brand Extract
‘How to Build Brand Trust’ – Sammy Blindell, How to Build a Brand

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