Walk your talk – The power of brand consistency

Updated to Business on December 14, 2022.

Most experts I meet and work with have a problem and it’s not about marketing. Actually it is about marketing, but not in the traditional sense. First a story.

I sat in a seminar recently at a conference I was speaking at. The speaker bio was impressive: lots of big-name clients, previous high-profile job, and she is an author. After that I was less impressed. Her PowerPoint was crammed with 18-point font text, distracting graphics, and even had text written vertically. By the time I deciphered each screen I had missed whatever point she was trying to make.

She used “Um’s”, “And’s” and “Right?” to the point of distraction. Twice she announced some great video we were going to enjoy only to discover it wouldn’t play. While the audience shifted in their seats uncomfortably, she would nervously mumble into her microphone “Well, that’s weird, it worked yesterday”. But here’s the real kicker.

She was there to teach communication skills.

Under the Microscope

As experts we set ourselves up for scrutiny. And whether we like it or not, people will judge whether we walk our talk. We have to be consistent between our brand and delivery.

If you are teaching communication, your presentations, choice of language, writing skills, and even “Thank You” emails should be excellent. Get feedback, enroll in a course, read books, but get on it because you will lose business if you don’t.

If you teach leadership you have to be a model of leadership in your life. Sure you know lots about delegation, feedback, and psychometrics, but what about your work load, good use of delegation to contractors, and system for managing your client commitments? Promises on paper are nothing compared to delivery.

Take my advice; I’m not using it.

Here are some delivery issues to watch for:

  • You teach time management, but are late for appointments.
  • You are a work/life balance expert, but stories all have to do with hotels, taxis, and airport waiting lounges.
  • As a success coach you promote personal excellence, but you have lazy disciplines for exercise, eating, and sleeping.
  • Your web site promises strategic planning services, but you haven’t created goals for the year, are procrastinating on your book project, and your blog hasn’t been updated in two months.

It’s not about expensive clothes

In case you think this rant is all about being perfect, it’s not. And to be clear, I’m guilty of doing all of the above at various times. The difference now is that I am uber-conscious of my brand consistency and the impact on client retention and sales.

Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance when you have two or more thoughts that conflict. It’s the experience of being happy with your new car, but thinking you could have got it cheaper.

You avoid your clients having cognitive dissonance when your marketing matches your performance and product quality. But, it’s not about expensive clothes.

I recently enjoyed a keynote presentation by Michael Abrashoff, the youngest commander in the US Pacific fleet and author of It’s your ship. Dressed in a sport jacket and tennis shirt, Abrashoff kept us engaged with great story telling and his four-point leadership model. He looked fit, in charge, and he commanded our attention – just as I imagine he would have on the deck of the USS Benfold 20 years earlier. That’s consistency.

Here’s the deal. When you are inconsistent between what you promise and what you present your audience and client will have trouble taking your advice. And when that happens they also will have trouble writing the cheque.

What about you? What have you done to close the gap between what you promise clients and what you deliver?