Yesterday I had one of those ‘V-8’ moments during a client meeting that reduces something abstract into something incredibly real.

My client was hosting a presentation from an outside visitor. The group meeting was attended by seven client employees. The visitor sitting next to me had dutifully collected all seven client business cards and lined them up, roster style.

So far, pretty mundane. Since our company helped implement to logo, create the corporate credentials and style manual, I took more than a casual interest in the display.

Much to my horror, however, the ink and paper color of three of my client’s business cards did not match the other four. WTF!

As it turns out, some people simply ran out of cards and dug into a hidden cache of old cards before we arrived. We quickly advised the client to toss out any pre-SPS Group printing.

The lesson in all this. When people talk about brand integrity, it is an abstract concept. I know plenty of ex-clients that are deeply suspicious of branding since it implies “high cost” marketing. True enough.

But the lesson here is fairly basic: when your team of executives meets a demanding client, will something as simple as mismatched business cards send the wrong signal about quality and consistency about your products or services?

Brand integrity means caring about consistency of the message — all messages — to deliver a uniform impression to a customer.