Friday, January 5, 2007

Consistency. Say it 3 times.

Consistency in your brand is something a lot of small companies pay very little attention to. From time-to-time I speak to start-ups about taking their brands seriously from the outset. There is nothing more aggravating than to see a new company whose exterior signage is different from their promotional materials. And also through out the business there is a range of colors for their corporate logo and so on.

Consistency builds familiarity with your brand and it saves you money by not confusing your audience with mixed messages. The image component of your brand is probably the most obvious to the brand stakeholders. Consistency starts at the base level of image development. Brand image strategies must first be cast in stone. These are items like color palettes, font standards, useage regulations and style sheets. This document can be quite far ranging. If your business involves multiple transportation vehicles then vehicle signage will be covered off. Trade promotion, apparel, organizational communications etc.

What happens all to often is the scourge - desk top publishing. DTP is firmly entrenched in modern firms. Unprofessional design staff regularly make image decisions. One example might be ordering t-shirts for the corporate golf event. Unless you stipulate the pantone color of the thread, the corporate logo will be stitched in a color that is wrong. You are not likely to see this mistake with Coke branded apparel. This attention to brand standards are taken very seriously with larger firms. Non-creatives love to design marketing materials all the time. It is the only time in their work day that they actually create something. When you are used to Word® and Excel®, graphics are a welcome departure and a savings to the company - OR SO THEY THINK.

I've seen cases where in-house staff messed around with an ad for days. Because there was no invoice from a design firm it was looked apon as free. But let's take a look at their total hours spent and the results of a promotion piece that bears no relationship to the brand other than the name is the same. Consistency issues are just a part of the over revenue loss for the company in this situation. And lets face it a qualified designer can do in few hours what the non-pro takes days agonizing over.

The mantra of the in-experienced is "close enough" when it comes to corporate brand standards. I wonder how they would feel if payroll adopted their close enough attitude. Many of you in the business world probably don't think of color as much as we do in brand consulting. You probaly don't realize how powerful it can be until I ask what color UPS is represented by? ING Direct? How about the 'For Dummies books? What if these colors were not consistent, what if they were close enough?
In their over all promotional efforts, how much money do you think would be lost if those 3 companies got lazy.

Plenty, count on it. UPS would be light brown sometimes dark. Not one strong color over and over.

Brand image should always be left in the hands of professionals who understand the value of a focused brand. At the very least, drill it into staff and other stakeholders that your comapny takes it's brand standards seriously. There is no excuse for wasting money or letting your brands slide. It is not hard to do it right - it is darn expensive to correct it later.



dante said...

Consistency along different media was probably one of the first things I learned from you Ed...

I think it was a couple years back the Malibu rum label launched a series of new flavoured rums, like Pineapple, Mango, etc. Each of the new bottles of flavoured rums had a different design/colour palette than the original white. I don't have any details on how this might have affected sales, but they recently launched a press release indicating that starting March 2007, they will be using the "white bottle" across the full line.

"Developed by Malibu-KahlĂșa International - the Pernod Ricard-owned company that shapes the brand's global strategy – the new packaging leverages the iconic Malibu Coconut white bottle, one of the most recognized packages in the spirits industry."

I immediately thought of your branding process and this "Consistency. Say it 3 times." post, so I thought I'd share.

Old Product Family

New Product Family

Ed Roach said...

Outstanding how those new bottles look. Now for all their packaging, you just have to look for the white bottle - very simple for the consumer. Consistency in action. Now a bottle across all products nicely strengthens their white bottle as a visual icon.


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