The idea of brand consistency is nothing new and has become a
buzz word among marketers and brand specialists. However, the
interpretation of 'brand consistency' seems to differ considerably
from one individual to another. It is precisely this discrepancy
that may explain why some brands succeed and others fail to truly
create sustainable brand value.
The first thing that comes to most people's mind when thinking
about brand consistency is consistency in a brand's visual
identity, including its logo and style used in communication.
For years, many marketing professionals have acted like a kind
of brand police, flagging immediately when a communication element
was not considered in line with the set colours in the style guide.
Although a consistent visual identity may certainly help anchor
brand associations in consumers' minds, increasingly more marketers
realise that it takes more to build a compelling memorable brand
that people trust.
These marketers realise that it is time to create conceptual
consistency throughout the entire brand experience. This entails
translating the brand essence to all elements of the organisation;
from visual identity to products and services, channels, pricing
strategy, employee behaviour, communication strategy, purchasing
strategy and CSI initiatives; creating true brand resonance across
all customer interaction points.
An example of a brand that gets this right is Ikea. Its product
assortment, catalogue, store lay-out, supply chain approach and
communication efforts (including its latest sleepover co-creation
campaign) all breathe the fundamentals 'wide range, affordability,
style and ease of use'. The customer journey feels like a
coherent logical brand pattern, that connects Ikea's essence and
visual identity to its behaviours.
Thus, today's marketers must broaden their focus and orchestrate
a clear and holistic brand pattern for consumers. A pattern
that crosses the borders within the marketing department and
between other departments, channels and agencies, in order to
create a congruent flow of brand encounters throughout the customer
journey. It's time to replace the brand police with brand
guardians that understand the multidimensional nature of
Conceptual consistency should by no means mean that a brand
becomes static though, it just implies that there should be a
logical pattern between all the individual elements that make up
the total brand experience. It still leaves marketers
sufficient room and flexibility to respond to market dynamics
through a reconfiguration of the individual brand elements (e.g.
new product packages), or by adding new elements (e.g. new
services), but the common thread should be clearly reflected in all
these elements, retaining the meaning and essence of the brand in
its new context.
Although the product assortment and functionality of Ikea's
products differs between regions, and new products and themed
showroom corners are constantly added to its range, the overall
Ikea experience remains consistent, no matter when, where or how
consumers interact with the brand. This makes the Ikea experience
memorable and 'sticky'.
I feel that conceptual consistency, rather than visual
consistency alone, lies at the core of many of today's successful
contemporary and dynamic brands such as Apple, Amazon, Google,
Umpqua Bank and Starbucks.
It is the coherence and consistency between how these brand act,
look and respond over time that gives them the power to create and