Brand Consistency is King
In today’s intense brand competition brands with shrinking research development and marketing communication budgets run the risk of becoming technologically disadvantaged. Most of the brands which are not well in maintaining brand consistency fall into this destitute.
On the other hand the success formula for many brands to be consistent with their brand strategy. From the name to the logo, from the product to the messaging, everyone knows Coca-Cola. It has been said that “Coca-Cola” is one of the most widely recognised terms worldwide, eclipsed only by the word “okay.”
Interestingly, their logo has remained largely unchanged since the 1900s. The script font and classic red are recognisable all over the world, even when displayed in different languages. Even with a massive ad budget, the sheer scale of this branding phenomenon would be unsustainable without an unwavering commitment to consistency.
For Coca-Cola maintaining “brand consistency” is a strategic commitment that is in many ways just as vital to their success as their secret formula. In fact, exporting their messaging is so important to Coke that they spend more on branding annually than Apple and Microsoft combined – all so we, the consumers, will prefer their brand. This consistency extends across every medium, every advertisement, every package, every bottle, every aluminium can.
In 2010, Coca-Cola spent $2.9 billion on advertising. By 2013, with a budget of $3.3 billion, their CEO began laying plans to increase that amount to $4.3 billion by 2016.
It is common saying in the brand world that the difference between the good brand and a great brand is “CONSISTENCY”! It is necessary for companies to manage brand equity with consistency by making numerous tactical shifts and changes in order to maintain the strategic thrust and direction of the brand. But there is no guarantee that tactical shifts could keep the brand aligned with the change in the most effective tactics for a particular brand at any one time varies.
As the case of Coca-Cola the strategic positioning of the brand has been kept uniform over time by the retention of key elements of the marketing programme and the preservation of the brand meaning.
But it is also necessary for companies to understand that fine-tuning the supporting marketing programme for their brands is the continuous process. Companies should make changes in their brand consistency strategy only when it’s clear the marketing programme and tactics are no longer making the desired contributions to maintaining or strengthening brand market share and brand equity.
It is brand custodians’ to understand for brands whose core associations are primarily product-related performance attributes or benefits, innovation in product design, manufacturing, and merchandising is especially critical to maintaining or enhancing brand equity.
Brand innovation is the winning strategy for companies in diverse categories and is critical to success but modification must be such that it could not get in the way to the brand image. “Product innovations are critical for performance-based brands whose sources of equity reside primarily in product-related associations. But it is important not to change products too much, especially if the brand meaning for consumers is wrapped up in the product design or makeup.”
It is important to understand that for brands whose core associations are primarily non-product-related attributes and symbolic or experiential benefits, relevance in user and usage imagery is especially critical. “Ill-conceived or too-frequent repositioning can blur the image of a brand and confuse or even alienate consumers. Brand images can be extremely sticky, and once strong associations have formed, they may be difficult to change.”