Building a Consistent Brand

Consistency helps build awareness and grow a brand.

It sets people’s expectations as they come to associate a colour, product, narrative, or piece of marketing with a brand.

However, complacency is often confused for consistency, causing a brand to grow rigid and unchanging. Leading it to be forgotten and replaced by one that introduces innovation into the market.

It’s a cycle that is continually repeating itself.

Blockbuster’s DVD rentals were replaced by Netflix’s on-demand video streaming service.
Polaroid’s instant film cameras were forgotten when Fujifilm introduced the world’s first digital camera.
And Blackberry’s smartphone fell out of favour with the introduction of Apple’s iPhone.

The common thread?

The complacent brands were all innovators. Blockbuster, Polaroid, and Blackberry all created and popularized markets that didn’t exist before their arrival.

But the innovation that put them on top couldn’t keep them there. For that, they needed consistency that signalled to customers that their brand was the right choice.

And this worked for a while.

But as the years passed, their consistency slowly transformed into complacency, turning a blind eye to competition under the belief that people would continue to want more of the same. In other words, they thought what put them on top would keep them on top.

Yet to stay on top, you need consistent innovation. We only want more of the same until something better comes along. It's the reason why we watch Netflix instead of going to Blockbuster. Prefer a digital camera over a Polaroid instant film camera. And have an Apple iPhone instead of a Blackberry.

The challenge these brands faced?

It wasn’t figuring out how to innovate. It was realizing innovation was still an option.

Brand consistency doesn’t mean brand complacency. In a world that’s constantly changing, the consistent brand is the one that changes with it.

Tanner Garniss-Marsh, RGD, is a brand strategist and designer working with business owners to bring their envisioned brand to life with strategic and practical solutions.

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