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Think BR: Brand consistency in a fragmenting world

Manufacturers and retailers need to create consistent brand experiences at every consumer touchpoint, writes Steve Puttock, managing director, London at Schawk.

Steve Puttock, managing director London, Schawk

Steve Puttock, managing director London, Schawk

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The value of a brand, embodying the ideals, proposition and personality of an organisation, is enormous. 

A strong brand creates a point of differentiation which initiates the desire to choose one product over another.   

It provides something consumers can become emotionally involved with and this also leads to brand loyalty and advocacy.

However, the potential for brand dilution is increasing every day. Media fragmentation means that the majority of advertisers reach their target audience through many channels including TV, direct mail, social media, email, mobile and packaging to name a few. 

While this provides brands with great opportunities to engage with customers, it also makes inconsistency in communications a bigger concern. 

Firstly, these days brands are likely to work with a variety of different agencies with differing remits (advertising, packaging, relationship marketing, eCRM etc) who also report to different client contacts that work in silos. 

In addition, for global brands there is the issue that many use different agencies in different countries to transcreate campaigns for their local markets. 

Not only that but channel marketing opportunities - which are typically led by retailers - can also lead to brand irregularities.

Having said that, it’s not just brands that have consistency issues.  Retailers can suffer from brand dilution themselves if they are stretching their own private label ‘brand’ across more categories and substrates while not owning any infrastructure.

And yet, despite the large number of difficulties surrounding it, studies show that consistency is one of the top ten most important aspects in successful branding - if not the most important. 

Take colour; one of the most important visual cues for consumers. Most people tend to see colour before shapes and type.

Consistent colour serves to reinforce brand authenticity and consumers’ trust in a brand. 

However, recreating exactly the same colour on packaging, posters and across the proliferation of digital tools (PC, mobile, tablet, in-store kiosk) is difficult as they reproduce differently on different media and materials. 

So, manufacturers and retailers need to develop processes that enable them to create consistent and compelling brand experiences at every consumer touch point, be it at home, on the go, in store or on shelf.  

It's vital that there is unity across all interested parties and all brand assets, with the consistency of reproduction maintained by repurposing it for each media channel.

But while consistency can be improved by centralising processes, it's important to ensure that the needs of local markets are not ignored as a result of this.

Define your ‘allowable brand flexibility’ so that, while remaining true to the master creative, communications use the appropriate visuals and language to optimise their effectiveness in every local market.

Ad building software is also an invaluable tool which stakeholders can use to easily adapt collateral within specified restrictions.

In addition it acts as a window to allow the guardian to sign artwork off - however far away they are from the person adapting it. 

This approach does take investment but it brings with it significant efficiencies that, in addition to ensuring brand consistency, also lead to significant budget savings that can be reinvested back into the marketing spend. 

That’s because it strips away duplication and ensures that brand deployment is right every time. It also provides a more transparent cost structure which allows greater control and consistency of cost across every local market.

Consumers are bombarded with hundreds of brand messages a day and all marketers want theirs to be the ones that stand out and are remembered. 

Brand consistency is a big part of making this happen so it’s got to be worth the effort.

Steve Puttock, managing director London, at Schawk

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