If Apple Were An Orange: Why Brand Consistency Matters
Wednesday September 9, 2020
A continuation of an earlier blog post The Connected Brand: Trustworthy, Collaborative, and Bright
If Apple were an Orange, there would be a public outcry. Imagine ordering a new MacBook Pro online and a few days later it arrives at your door. You rush outside, excited to open the box and see the sleek, shiny computer for the first time. When you look down at the package at your feet, you see the logo of an Orange…but that can’t be right, you ordered an Apple MacBook Pro. Little did you know, Apple decided to try something new and although you may chuckle at first, you are not pleased. Not only did you want the Apple logo because it’s what is on all of your other Apple products, but you’re worried this laptop may not be the same quality as the others. You’re worried this product just won’t perform the same way. You were promised an Apple product and, to put it dramatically, you were betrayed.
This is how I visualize the importance of brand consistency. Visual cues are the first thing we use to judge something for what it’s worth. We’re told “don’t judge a book by its cover” but you can’t stop your eyes from quickly sending a message to your brain and to make a judgement on a product or a brand before you have a chance to get to know it.
When I started at Connected in April of 2019, I was handed a beautifully and thoughtfully constructed brand book designed by Underline Studio. It then became my responsibility to create any/all assets and ensure that all deliverables, whether internal or external followed these rules.
So why does it matter that we at Connected use our colours properly and make sure we follow the typography guidelines in every asset that is created? Brand consistency matters because it ensures recognizability, holds the promise to the customer, and respects those who built the brand with purpose.
Brands are for recognizability.
No matter the size or reputation of a company, the brand is used to enforce representation and recognizability. When you’re scrolling through a social media feed, there are quick visual cues that tell you whose content you are looking at. Our world is stock full of advertisements, billboards, and all manner of other types of content, meaning without those visual cues it would get overwhelming.
When it comes to the Connected brand, by keeping a consistent visual language, I can be sure that when our followers are looking through their feed and a piece of our content pops up, they will recognize it.
Let’s use Tropicana as an example of this. If you frequent the grocery store (or used to) and you have been down the cold aisle on the furthest side of the entrance, you know what an orange with a straw stuck in it signifies…Tropicana Orange Juice. They attempted a rebrand and failed horribly. They failed because people simply didn’t recognize the label as Tropicana. People’s brains had been trained to see the juicy orange with a straw and when that changed, their brain immediately scanned over the product without buying.
Brands are a promise. Don’t break them, bend them.
People choose products and services because of the value they deliver. Their brand is a representation of their value. For example, if you use a certain bank it’s probably because you trust them with your money. The visual language of a brand promises that you will be getting the same product at the same quality that you opted in for last time. Brands are a promise of quality and also a promise of a feeling.
As I mentioned in my previous point (Brands are for recognizability), when our followers see a Connected ad, they will be more likely to download the piece of content because they recognize it as Connected and also because they know the calibre of content they will be receiving. The visual aspect of the brand directly relates to the product you receive (e.g. a bright blue background with an illustration and clean typography promises a thought-provoking piece of content written through a product-thinking lens and backed with ample research from various reputable sources).
There is always the exception for breaking brand rules but that only comes when you truly understand the nuances that create the feeling that a user gets when they come across your brand. When in doubt, bend, don’t break.
Brands are built with purpose.
It can take months, sometimes years to design a brand successfully.
Failing to abide by the design rules set in place by the brand designers who came first is a disservice to them. The colour palette has been carefully thought out to exude the brand characteristics and portray a specific persona. The typography rules aren’t there to be strict, they are there to provide structure, readability, and recognizability. In each piece that I design for the Connected brand, there is a small list of “must-nots”, including rules such as no large amounts of bold text. It may seem strict to ban that use of type because in some cases a large paragraph of bold text might be what the content calls for. This is when bending and not breaking the brand comes into play. If this change to the rules does not ruin the integrity of the design and/or layout and the page still feels like Connected, go ahead and make that sentence bold, I dare you.
Brand books are not there to stop you from being creative, they are to help you be creative and be creative in a way that is best for the brand.
If Connected were Disconnected
So why does brand consistency matter for the Connected brand? If Connected were Disconnected, the brand would require a completely different visual language. The brand would no longer need to exude trust and collaboration, in fact it would be the very opposite. If part of our brand language drastically changed overnight, the trust we have built with our clients would crumble.
At Connected, we don’t have customers in the traditional sense where they purchase a product for a certain aesthetic, feeling or use. Our brand is our promise to clients that we are the experts in what we do and they can trust us with their product. Our credibility is baked into every consistently designed proposal, whitepaper, and advertisement we put out into the world.