Brands, like celebrities, may be famous for nothing other than the fact of being recognized. They work at their own distinction. Like fashion, brand acceptance is fickle; its time in the sunshine of acceptability fleeting. Developing a successful brand tests just how skillfully you seize the moment; sustaining that moment makes the difference between fortune and failure.
Consistency (Expression and Experience).
If Clarity is the “who” of your brand; consistency is the “what, where, and how.” Clarity defines and expresses the promise; consistency is the way that promise is experienced. Consistency refers not only to the presentation of the brand in packaging, advertising, and media, but also to the product itself. If your brand expresses itself as a luxury item; your customer needs to experience that luxury. Nobody, for example, expects to buy a Rolex delivered in a paper bag. If your brand is a service that promises responsiveness and consumer satisfaction, your service had better deliver on that promise.
Consistency of expression does not mean boring. Rather, it should be a challenge to you and your marketing and advertising team’s creativity. Brands need to evolve. Consider for example, Starbucks. The original Starbucks logo (brown) focused on coffee, tea and spices. This changed to green and coffee alone. The figure (i.e., “siren”) became more stylized, and arguably more recognizable. Today that simplified and stylized siren alone is allowing for the brand to expand into other products and offerings:
1971 to present.
It may appear counterintuitive but change to a brand can, in itself, become part of the brand identity. No better example than this is the ever-changing, quotidian creativity, of the Google doodle celebrating the ordinary, the famous, and the current 365 days a year.
Google doodles: Pad Thai, Leonard Bernstein, Christmas.
The key to consistency of expression is to avoid change for change’s sake. The fact that you hire a new marketing executive doesn’t mean you need to change the brand no matter how much she may want to do so. Rather, the savvy marketing person will build on the goodwill foundation you may have already have.
Every touchpoint of your brand and the consumer needs to be consistent. If you’re Starbucks this means delivering a consistent, quality beverage and food experience. It also means that when accused of racial profiling you need to respond quickly, forcefully, and deliberately.
Consistency not only controls but helps to grow and maintain a brand. It confirms that the brand is “real” and is driven by its purpose and commitments. It also avoids confusion with other brands not only in similar industries but also with those with similar names.
- Develop a brand mission statement consistent with your company;
- Implement and publish brand usage guidelines;
- Insist upon and enforce your intellectual property rights in your brand;
- Review all advertising and endorsement agreements to ensure consistent messaging; and
- Avoid change for change’s sake; change for a reason.
KJK’s Brand Protection and Advertising Group can help develop your mission statement, your guidelines, secure and defend your IP, and review, advise, and draft your brand agreements.
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