Consistency vs. adaptability as a trust-building element in marketing communication
Time goes on incessantly. Salvador Dali had already addressed this very aptly in his most famous painting “The constancy of memory” in 1931. The melting clocks represent the omnipresence of time and its control over our lives. Companies also have to make decisions in this permanent flow of time. Do they rely on stability or, on the contrary, on continuous adaptation? Today, we are asking ourselves what impact this decision has on the perceived confidence in the company. And how best to deal with this dilemma.
Who likes changes? The human being is a very constant being in his deepest core. This is reflected in a multitude of activities: Couples stay together for many years despite crises, jobs are not dismissed despite the annoying boss, places of residence are changed only by necessity and every year you go to the same beach on Lake Garda.
Consistency gives us a sense of security. You know what you’ve got. And even if it’s not optimal, at least you know how to handle it. You can trust that. New situations, on the other hand, require completely new thinking and acting. This is uncertain. The results are less predictable. You might not even dare to do that.
Durabillity as a building block of trust
The same applies to communication. The more consistent a company communicates, the more trustworthy it appears. Hearing the same message over and over again makes a lasting impression. You can count on that. When I as a consumer see the same logo over and over again or hear the same slogan over and over again, my confidence in the company automatically grows.
It is therefore generally recommended to communicate as consistently as possible. Website relaunches should not be carried out every two years. The user, who first has to find his way around the new navigation, automatically feels a certain insecurity. This applies to the company, its products and services.
Particularly devastating are complete name changes. Who remembers: Raider to Twix. From the junior bag at McDonald’s, the Happy Meal. Sky was premiered. KarstadtQuelle became Arcandor. Arcandor was soon broke. And the other three had to take millions of advertising money to not only make the new name known, but also familiar.
Permanent change requires adaptability
However, the permanent changes to which companies and companies are exposed naturally also require changes on the corporate side and in marketing communication.
All aspects are affected. Products must change. Prices are adjusting, just because of rising raw material prices. Distribution channels are changing from store sales to direct sales on the Internet, with own online shops or on marketplaces. And communication also requires consistent adaptations.
Digitization as the maximum challenge
Continuous digitization is certainly the biggest change since the invention of the computer, if not since the Industrial Revolution. It has an impact on all areas, including marketing communication. Trade fairs and events no longer work. Television advertising is not just because more and more people are streaming. There are also fewer and fewer calls. And what was a fax again?
Instead, customers are getting more and more information online. Communication via chatbots becomes normal. On the corporate side, end-to-end content marketing strategies are just as necessary as data analytics and targeted social media.
So permanent change after all? And where is the trust based on consistency? Even for an online marketing specialist, this is not always easy to answer.
What is the solution for contemporary content marketing strategies?
There is no black and white thinking. The art lies in adapting to changing conditions while maintaining perceived consistency. As an experienced content marketing agency, we have three tips for this for your communications:
1. change gradually & ensure recognizability
Step-by-step changes make it easy for customers and interested parties. A good example of this is the change of the Apple logo over time:
Recognition is absolutely guaranteed (clear, apart from the very first). With such small changes, which can also be controversially discussed, trust in the brand is not broken. Such incremental adjustments can be applied to many other areas of communication.
Maybe you shouldn't cancel all trade show activities right away. It can also be a smaller number for the time being.
Instead of the complete relaunch of the website, there may also be a refresh, in which users find their usual places in the navigation.
And if the main color in the corporate design seems outdated, you shouldn't change from forest green to jet black right away. A more modern, suitable shade of green can probably be found (see the latest adaptations of the Apple logos).
2. keep longer periods constant
Longer periods of consistency reinforce the consistency of your communication. Instead of a quick fix, thoroughly thought-out measures have always been a good idea. This is especially true for the Website relaunch. We have been involved in so many projects that have dragged on for seemingly endless periods of time. This is not only annoying for the organization, but also for the users, whose basic trust in the company is disturbed by different elements on different pages. Here, it's clear that it's better to have one big project where everything is new than to make umpteen changes every few weeks.
No rule without exception: Startups that go online with an MVP live off rolling out and testing new features permanently. Here it is important to communicate this to the user. Therefore:
3. Explain changes
Only a few years ago, the empowered consumer was seen as a myth and an unreachable goal. That’s more than outdated. Today’s customers are not only of age, they are loud, direct and unmistakable thanks to social media. No company can avoid the resulting need for discussion. A successful example of this is BMW’s communication on the occasion of the change of the BMW logo.
Whether this change has succeeded or not can be seen quite differently - see the related posts on twitter.
Absolutely successful is the communication of BMW on an explicit Logo change page.
Many startups are also doing the same: Changes are announced in advance in apps and on websites. In some cases, there are options for switching between old and new versions. And there are always explanations of what has been changed and why (preferably in the style of: We have received many requests. That's why we now have ....).
Adjustments of marketing communication due to changing framework conditions have to be. However, awareness of the trust-damaging effect should always be kept in mind. Therefore, to safely appear trustworthy, we recommend making changes gradually, longer periods of consistency in communication, and explaining meaningful changes well.