Consistency in branding

Very recently, I had a conversation with a friend who owns a small business. His business cards advertised one version of his logo, while onto his car was pasted a deviant-looking copy of the same logo. I mentioned to him that this wasn’t good for his brand. His response: that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Was I, though? Think of some of the greatest brands of our time: Coca-Cola, Apple, Starbucks. What do these all have in common? They advertise constantly and consistently. Now, you may say to me,“Veoma, they have millions of dollars; I barely have a few hundred/thousand!” And you know what, that’s okay. For now, until you make those millions of dollars, focus on the consistency part of the formula.

Whenever a brand changes its look and feel too many times over a brief period, something is inherently the matter. It may be that nothing was wrong with the logo or the external image in the first place, but that something internally is amiss; and this may be affecting profits. But brand consistency is not only a matter of logo, colours and presentation. It is also a matter of communication.

Communication to the customer must also be consistent. A company may have a beautiful logo, a catchy jingle, e-blasts that are attractive and which woo you into their business, but poor customer service. This would be the ultimate disappointment for a prospective client. Communication to the client– in whatever form–must be consistent.

Consistency also brings familiarity…and in the world of advertising and marketing, familiarity breeds comfort. Think about it: why do you pick up groceries at the same place? Why do you eat regularly at an establishment? Why do families send their children; generation after generation, to the same schools? It is because of the comfort in the knowledge that the brands are consistently good. That the brand values have gained the customers’ trust; and that these values will not be compromised. 

Brand recognition means that customers know your brand on a personal level…and we all know that purchasing habits are more emotional than practical.This is why development of an immediately recognizable association between your logo, website, advertisements, blogs or outdoor advertising is very important. The thought process that therefore goes into corporate imaging should be careful, concise and deliberate; not one where a year later, you wish to revamp and change the entire look and feel of your brand…and then you repeat the same process the very next year.

To revert to the topic of those three brands: Apple, Starbucks and Coca-Cola. When last did they change their logos? Let’s see…

1.   Although Apple’s logo was first the Newton, since 1976 it has always been the bitten apple, in spite of its colour.

2.   Starbucks has had only four variations of its logo between 1971 and 2011; and since then, it seems that they’ve struck gold with customer appreciation.

3.   My beloved, Coca Cola has had a rich history of imagery, but the association of the brand has always been with the concept of happiness. Over its 130+ year period, the two‘C’s’ of Coca-Cola have been trademarked; and it is one of the most universally recognized brands in terms of its evolution. It has been consistent in that sense, consistent in taste; and consistent in communicating positivity to the world.

(Veoma Ali is an Advertising Executive, with a Ph.D in Communications and a Masters in Business Administration)

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