Brands: The importance of being consistent yet fresh

Ossi Ahto / December 2015

As many brands are moving their advertising spend to digital, they are discovering a new range of challenges. The traditional way of brand advertising allowed (and still allows) brands to spend months finalizing their messages, and days to make all the details shiny. Success in today’s world can of course be achieved in the same way, but there is also an endless amount of opportunities for the brands that are willing to act fast or respond quickly.

One of the best-known examples of this, is Oreo’s tweet in the middle of the US Superbowl. Old Spice used their YouTube channel for responding to their fans’ questions in the Response campaign; the result was a huge success.

Live streaming video apps, such as Periscope and Meercat, have enabled live broadcasting to everyone with a smart phone and YouTube is now active in this area. The challenge facing brands using these opportunities is how to keep their brand consistent. One could ask, how important is consistency in advertising?

Staying consistent allows brands to build their brand equity on top of previous efforts, while inconsistency can mean starting from the bottom each time. It can also be difficult for consumers or customers to understand what the brand stands for, if there is no real consistency. Even though surprise may have topped consistency as one of the goals of online advertising, I would argue that the number of messages is growing all the time. As a result, consistency is even more essential for a brand to get noticed.

"At the end of the day, the secret is to be consistent but not predictable."

- Alexis Nasard, former CMO Heineken

A great quote from Alexis Nasard, former CMO of Heineken, says it all: “At the end of the day, the secret is to be consistent but not predictable.” It underlines that while consistency is important, it isn’t everything. By staying only consistent, the brand’s message is easily lost in the jungle of messages and not noticed. This is why being fresh and surprising is equally important.

A good example of a brand which is consistent but not predictable is LEGO. It has been part of childhood play since the 1930s and has been able to develop and turn business whilst remaining consistent. Recently they have explored fresh business angles such as entering the gaming and movie businesses. LEGO has been consistent but it has been able to turn its brand to be relevant and fresh for today’s youth.

Three tips for brands aiming to be constantly online, to produce always-on content and to remain consistent but fresh are as follows:

  1. Create very clear guidelines for content producers but give them freedom. That is the only way you can achieve both consistency and unpredictability.
  2. Always include your brand assets clearly in communication in order to be consistent and to get your brand noticed.
  3. Think about the combination of the things that are in people’s interest and the things that your brand can consistently speak with relevancy. That is the sweet spot, where you should be focusing and how you can ensure you create consistent yet unpredictable content.
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