IS BRAND O.C.D. THE ANSWER TO BRAND SCHIZOPHRENIA?
When you think of all the different expressions of your brand, what probably comes to mind are the tangible things that communicate who you are. Your logo. Your web site. Your product’s packaging. Your advertising.
In reality, none of these represent what your brand is. Your brand exists in only one place: between the ears of your customers and others that come in contact with you. Logos, ads, etc. are nothing more than prompts to aid customers and others in tapping into the feelings and experiences they already have for you. With that said, it would seem to make sense that all of your external elements and communications be consistent so that it will be easier for your customers and prospects to tap into those feelings. Different looks, different messages, etc. send mixed signals and can lead to confusion about what our brand represents. Right?
Well, yes and no.
This notion of “being consistent” can be taken to an obsessive-compulsive extreme, and be allowed to affect every little nuance of every communication. We can only use this font. We can only make visuals this big. We can never reverse the headline. We have to show the product the same way in every ad. And humor? Well, we never use it. For consistency sake, of course.
In other words, we could justifiably exclude a lot of really good ideas just because they may not “look like” what we’ve done before.
Allow us to offer up the idea that while consistency (and certainly brand identification) is important, that consistency needs to come from the “emotional takeaway” of the communication, and grow from the Brand Vision you’ve set for your company. Your Brand Vision is really the only filter that matters in terms of communicating the brand. Graphics standards, branding elements and previous communications, as used by many marketers, are often nothing more than crutches. The lowest common denominator of marketing communications (“If people know nothing else about us, at least they’ll know the red stripe goes ON TOP OF the blue stripe on our borders!”).
On the other hand, an example of a marketer who really gets it is GEICO, the auto insurance company. Take a look at its ads. Neurotic cavemen. Talking geckos. Burt Bacharach singing the story of a real GEICO customer. One could interpret the company’s advertising as being all over the map. But really, all of its advertising dramatizes its Brand Vision in its full glory. It’s all about engagement, and GEICO is using multiple doors to invite the viewer in.
The bottom line? Concern yourself more with what your audience is taking away from the communications than with the elements used to tell the story. Instead of summarily rejecting ideas because they may not “fit” what has been done before, pass them through the Brand Vision filter with an open mind. Every market position needs to evolve, and this could help you keep from getting stuck in a box (or worse, in a rut). And who knows, may help you find the next great GEICO-like execution for your company.
Posted by Mickey
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