Search close
Management
Content is king, but consistency is queen
Content is king, but consistency is queen

Marketing isn’t short of catchphrases and quotable sound bites, that’s for sure. And for a long time, ‘content is king’ has been used to describe the fundamental nature of what matters the most in marketing. I’m sure everyone has also heard that ‘content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants’ or something similar.

And that’s what I want to talk about today because I think that the true queen in this equation has been misrepresented for a long time. Modern marketers are acutely aware that content is singular when it comes to enabling their aspirations and growing their impact on the brand’s bottom line. And, yes, distribution, the audience and many other complementary facets are important parts of this conversation.

But, the real queen that wears the real pants in this situation is consistency. Consistency in how a brand is represented, consistency in the tone of marketing content, consistency in the format of communications and, perhaps most importantly, consistency in customer experience.

When a brand is producing and distributing great content at scale, consistency is the game changer; you can only do so much with the volume and frequency of your content before consistency becomes the real differentiator between you and your competitors. It’s well known that, while audiences may not realise it consciously, they are drawn to consistency in branded communication because it’s easier to process and remember. Our brains reward brands that help us think less.

Repetition matters

Repetition in the way your brand is represented is critical for a customer to understand why your brand matters to them and also be able to advocate for your brand in their networks. But repetition doesn’t mean doing the exact same things over and over again. Consistency in marketing content is achieved by repeating the same stylistic cues across various formats, channels and types of communication.

A brand doesn’t need to be elaborate or provocative in order to be memorable, it just needs to be consistent and emotive (and not even that emotive, in my opinion). For example, in Australia, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) is an independent federal government agency responsible for scientific research that’s charged with the goal of improving the economic and social performance of industry for the benefit of the Australian community.

This organisation is not about increasing profits, however the strength of its brand is critical in ensuring it attracts and retains government funding and can leverage industry partnerships. The CSIRO uses repetition of a simple brand as ‘Australia’s innovation catalyst’ to communicate to Australians why the CSIRO matters to them and to also build advocacy for the organisation in the community.

In particular, the CSIRO achieves significant consistency by repeating their key priorities and contributions to science and Australian society through their social media profiles. This accessible and easy-to-understand content focuses almost completely on the outcomes of their scientific research rather than just the science itself.

Beware of inconsistent language

Often overlooked by us marketers are the words chosen in longer-form content (that is, anything that’s not an ad) and the impact that can have on our customers’ perception of our brand. It’s not easy keeping longer-form content aligned with a brand because it’s a more expansive format, is often produced by a broader range of writers and brand guidelines don’t accommodate for the nuances of content that runs over multiple hundreds of words.

However, consistency in language is one of the major keys to unlocking a brand that is easily remembered and delightfully experienced by consumers. Few brands really nail it when it comes to this area and I find that it’s more beneficial to think about how media publishers approach consistency in language across a number of journalists, reporting beats and outputs.

The New York Times is arguably the best example here with a consolidated ‘style’ that has been developed since 1895. Though words, turns of phrase, cultural terms and jargon have evolved with society since then, the New York Times Stylebook ensures a consistent approach to the language used across the brand. From the daily newspaper, to the website, to podcasts, magazines, one-shots and events, the New York Times approach to consistent language has two key lessons for marketers.

The first is that a clear set of guidelines for longer-form written content is critical to ensure that consumers that come back to your channels and content over and over again are always going to get what they expect. By always getting what they expect, you’re helping to build a consistent brand.

The second key lesson I see in the New York Times approach is that this consistency in language doesn’t have to remain static or staid. Your customers needs and aspirations are changing as their lives change and so, while remaining strongly anchored to the core of your brand, gentle movements and growth in your brand’s style ensure relevance over the long-term.

Technology has a part to play

Many marketers we talk to have a lot of these fundamentals about consistency very clear in their and their team’s minds. But they’re often less clear on how to operationalise it, thinking of consistency as more of an intellectual concept to be applied during creative development only.

Consistency in style, brand, language and tone are critical enablers of efficient and productive marketing operations and so it makes sense to bake this consistency into a technology platform that can help your team stay on track while they’re in the trenches of day-to-day marketing.

When you’re considering a marketing operations platform, think about how guidelines and templates to ensure brand consistency can be easily surfaced to and used by your team. Minimise the opportunities for brand creep by ensuring workflows and review processes highlight the important elements of brand consistency. Make assets and snippets of copy that are on-brand easily available and adaptable for everyone to use across various campaigns and channels.

It’s clear in a lot of the discussions we have with marketers that consistency is important but perhaps not given the weight it deserves as content’s rightful queen. It’s not easy to ensure consistency across your marketing, regardless of the size of your organisation, but it is the best way to rise above the pack and create real impact for your brand.

Articles you may be interested in
Account modal exit cross