The Beginner’s Guide to Brand Consistency
Allow me to share a little anecdote about brand consistency, from my own experience.
My vision is very poor. From a distance of 15 feet, you could replace my image in a mirror with someone else’s and I’d hardly know the difference! Tuck that bit of information aside and save it for later.
Last year, I took a trip through the Balkan region of Europe with a few friends, careening across mountain roads along the Ionian seaside. We passed through a few nameless shanty towns – comprised of abandoned stone structures and shells of houses. In some stretches, we could drive for miles without spotting a person. When I did see one I was vexed, as though to suggest – what’s that doing there?!
Despite being in some ruthlessly remote corner of Macedonia, Albania, or Bosnia, not always seeing signs of life beyond the vegetation, you know what I did see?
In these far flung corners of the globe, I’d be driving down a barely paved beach road and see a decrepit set of table and chairs, with a worn red umbrella emerging from the center – embossed with the logo of Coca-Cola.
“Incredible,” I thought. “Under the definition of ubiquity in the dictionary, do you think there’s a picture of the Coke logo?” While driving, we’d wizz past a cracked painting of the Coca-Cola logo on a stone wall. A faintly discernible red and white blur in the Balkan twilight.
But do you know what’s truly incredible? The fact that I am the one telling you this. Why? Precisely because my vision is horrid. I see the world with dulled edges. When I look at an object from afar, I see the suggestion of a clock, the implication of a bicycle. Where words are concerned, I don’t read, I squint. I stare through narrowed slits and make an educated guess if the print is generously sized.
But I can tell you, without a glint of doubt, I saw Coca-Cola everywhere in the Balkans, recognizable even as a passing blur. Like every other red-blooded American, I know Coca-Cola on sight. I can see so much as a flicker of that logo, and know its Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola, in fact, happens to be the second most recognized word in the English lexicon, after “OK” – did you know that? This is not just indicative of Coca-Cola’s stellar marketing efforts (or an advertising budget that sits in excess of 4 billion dollars). The fact that I, bleary vision and all, could recognize Coca-Cola’s ubiquity in the Balkans, where it assuredly wasn’t expected, is the express result of their formidably-crafted brand consistency.
How Consistent Is Your Brand?
Building a recognizable brand is perhaps the most critical aspect of building a successful business. A way to achieve brand recognition is omnipresence (being everywhere), but you stand to cripple your own advertising and marketing efforts if you neglect a little thing called consistency.
There are a million disjointed ways a consumer can make contact with your brand – print ads; digital banner ads; your logo on a pen, a mug, a t-shirt; a brochure; your business card; collateral material – the list goes on. There has to be a sense that all of these variant mediums are anchored, firmly tied to one another by ironclad brand consistency. As with all things, the devil is in the details. The spacing between the letters of your logo. The exactitude of the angle at which an ‘A’ is skewed. The hue of the brands’ colors. Which tweaks are prohibited, which aren’t.
Brand identity establishes the values, services, and personality of your brand – the last thing you would want these things to seem is inconsistent. ‘Every’ brand that is ‘any’ brand has a meticulously detailed “style guide,” which dictates the presentation of its logo, typography, and brand colors among many other things, to ensure that the brand is presented to the customer uniformly, every time. Consistency is the cornerstone of any trusting relationship, right?
A brand’s success is built not only on the consistent delivery of its promised services, but the equally consistent presentation of its image as well. When it comes to brand consistency, strive toward the level of ‘Coca-Cola in the Balkans.’ A faint blur, a quick flash – and even Freddy Four-Eyes would recognize you without his glasses on.
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Examples of Brand Consistency Style Guides
To gain a better understanding of the contents of a style guide, review the following brand guideline booklets of from a roster of successful companies.