Brand Congruency: what it is and why it can make or break your business

I made this statement in a branding presentation last year: “brand congruency is the single biggest indicator of business success.” First, what the heck does that even mean? Second, that’s quite a big claim. There are many indicators and benchmarks of business success including revenue, profit, productivity, and more. How can anything having to do with your brand trump those? I’ll tell you…

What is Brand Congruency?

Congruent means identical (remember geometry?). One thing is the same as the other. Brand congruency means two of your brand components are the same as each other. What are they? Message and customer experience. In my five-part brand building recipe, two of the ingredients are message (what you say) and customer experience (what others say). What you say and what your customers say must be the same to achieve brand congruency.

It’s easy to see why your messaging is part of your brand. You have to have something to say- what you do, why you do it, who you do it for, with descriptive words to enrich peoples’ understanding and meaning about your business. Perhaps a bit more difficult to grasp is why customer experience is part of your brand. Most business owners recognize what customers say is important, they just don’t see it as part of their brand. Including customer experience in your brand is smart because it keeps it on your radar.

Expectations, met and unmet, are crucial to monitor. If what you promise is the same as what your customers experience, you will be successful. When your story includes meeting (and exceeding) expectations, the word spreads and trust develops.

What happens without Brand Congruency?

The opposite of brand congruency is brand disconnect. Just hearing the word ‘disconnect’ doesn’t feel good, does it? When your brand promises are not aligned with customer expectations, a disconnect occurs and, just like above with brand congruency, the word spreads but this time, trust fails to develop. Just as brand congruency predicts success, brand disconnect predicts trouble.

Pay attention to what your customers are saying about you as though your life depends on it. Does it? Well, the life of your business may, indeed.

If you want to watch the entire 15-minute practice presentation from last year’s conference, watch it here. It includes the parts of the brand, the biggest branding mistake, what brand congruency is, and ways to ensure you have it.

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