Don’t mistake brand consistency for brand staticity

Earlier this year I read an article on Entrepreneur called Consistency Is King, Queen and All the Aces when it comes to branding. Sounds familiar. I’m sure we’ve all heard it a million times; to achieve greater impact a brand must act and look consistent across different channels. That’s fair enough. But way to often consistency is misunderstood for staticity. And make no mistake; static brands are boring.

Brands should adapt

Most of us have somehow been involved in a project where we had to relate to brand specific guides or files when making something. No matter if you’re in design, development, marketing, copy, sales or management, most of the output you make is suppose to be “on par” with the brand you are representing. But why does that have to mean it should look the same way everything else does?

Designers normally spend a lot of time creating a complex system of behaviour and looks for how a brand identity should handle different situations, because that is what makes a brand exciting. A brand is not meant to be static or one-headed. It’s meant to be consistently exciting in a adaptive, but defined universe. When we started working on Brandpad, we spent a lot of time understanding the issues with creating visual consistency and excitement with a brand. What we found out very early on was that most people creating material for the company have never seen a brand guide for the brand they represent. When they make output they make stuff that looks like everything else the brands has made, because they are afraid they’ll do something wrong. But, when we talked to the designers, all of them had made up a brand book or brand manual explaining a diverse universe in which the brand lives.

The problem seems to be that brand guidelines gets lost, misunderstood or not used (for a number of different reasons). While the brand identity was meant to handle each touchpoint or situation perfectly, instead it now handles them equally. The uncertainty causes staticity—and unexciting brands.

Be fun

Be careful with brand staticity. Fun brands adapt. Fun brands behave in accordance with the situation you put them in, just like people. They are not static, one-headed and boring. Modern brands are flexible, lively and organic — like the organization they belong to. I’d like to see brands of the future consistently adapting, not consistently.. consisting.