Bruce Springsteen once said, “Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” Although he was referring to his journey to fame, his thoughts are very applicable to maintaining a consistent brand. Establishing brand consistency within a dealership is about more than just creating rules and setting the standards. Keeping a consistent brand image means you must uniformly brand yourself to your potential customers and current, loyal buyers. Brand consistency significantly impacts your brand recognition leading to heightened sales. There are two ways dealerships can demonstrate brand consistency—a strong marketing strategy and customer experience awareness.
To achieve consistency, many brands make the look, feel, tone, and terminology consistent. A dealership’s marketing team should establish a strict style guide for everything the public sees that has a connection to their dealership, and it should contain instructions on how to use all brand attributes. This means letterhead, business cards, websites, tweets, Facebook posts, campaigns, envelopes, invoices, signage, banners, and all things related to a brand should be created with specific guidelines in place to ensure consistency. This is a vital step in keeping a consistent look and uniform message for the company.
Target is an expert in brand consistency and has trained us to recognize its brand through its red and white colors. First, their logo appears as a large, eye-catching red target. There are red doors, red shopping carts, employees’ red uniform shirts, red and white shopping bags, advertisements on television, their website, and their newspaper catalog. All of these elements work together and consistently drive home Target’s theme. Everything at Target has a similar look and feel, and because of this, when we see a brightly-colored ad on TV, we immediately recognize it as an ad for Target, even if we don’t see the Target logo until the very end.
Although dealerships may not work exactly the same way, with many of them being branches of larger corporations, they can still improve the way they present themselves to customers with regard to dealership-specific content such as flyers, commercials, specific campaign advertisements, their tone, emails, and social media channels. When these things convey a consistent message, it leads to a highly-recognizable brand that looks professional, polished, and unique.
Creating a consistently excellent customer experience is essential to a dealership’s success. In the automotive industry, consumers can find the same cars anywhere they search, but customer experience is what sets dealerships apart. The fact is that consistency on the most common customer journeys is an important predictor of overall customer experience and loyalty. A customer journey can span all elements of a company and include maintaining superior service, clear policies, rules, and supporting mechanisms to ensure consistency during each interaction. To maintain this kind of consistency, dealerships can focus on training frontline service representatives to identify and address specific customer issues. This training ensures that every employee treats every customer the same way, every single time, and goes a long way toward stimulating deeper customer trust. When these elements always remain the same from sale to sale, customers become accustomed to a fluid way of interacting with the dealership.
Because customers know what to expect when they go to a certain dealership, they have dealership preferences. For example, at Dealership #1, they feel ignored for a while before somebody runs up to them on the lot, they are pushed around, and feel like they are being rushed into either buying a car or leaving. At Dealership #2, they know that every time they go in, they will be greeted with a friendly smile in a timely manner, be offered a beverage, and when the time comes for a sale, they are not rushed, but have plenty of time to ask appropriate questions and make a decision. Which dealership are they more likely to buy from or return to? Dealership #2’s consistency in the way they treat their customers leads to a feeling of trust and offers the heightened possibility of a sale.
Additionally, a customer’s experience is driven by the combination of promises made and promises kept by a dealership. It’s critical that a dealership delivers on the deals and promotions they advertise and honor all commitments they make. Along with this principle, businesses have to ensure their customers and the general public recognize the delivery of those promises. This requires proactively sharing content that highlights delivery of these promises, as well as an overall consistent business message. Brands that do this generate a feeling of goodwill and remain consistent over time in fulfilling promises.
Since a customer journey often touches different parts of the organization, companies need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the customer journey from beginning to end. Dealerships that aren’t consistent in the customer journey department often expend unnecessary resources and make additional investments to improve the customer experience, without realizing that it only takes strict customer service guidelines and superb employee training to improve the consistency of their brand.
Creating brand-consistent customer experiences and content is important to a dealership’s influence and success. Maintaining a steady message through content and customer service sets the tone and theme of a business, as well as the pace for future content. With trust established and a highly recognizable brand, dealerships gain popularity and revenues spike.