Think about a big brand—any big brand. What comes to mind about that brand? Is it the products that it offers? How about the slogan that it stands behind? What about the visual images that it advertises and markets? Chances are, it’s going to be all three, but more so the third option: the visual images that are associated with that brand.
Visual images are tremendously powerful in the world of marketing, advertising and branding, simply because they hold the most power over an audience. Whether it’s a picture in a magazine or a web banner advertisement, the visuals that we collect and store in our minds about a company are supremely important in how we come to view and understand that brand. That’s what makes consistency so important!
Go back to your mental image of a brand and start thinking about all the different images that you’ve seen and collected for that brand—advertisements, signage, packaging, etc. What do you notice about the visual materials that you’ve seen over the years? Could it be that everything seems to fit together seamlessly, like it’s all part of one big image?
This is exactly the idea that brand builders are going for: everything you see in regards to a brand is just part of the bigger picture; just pieces of the puzzle that help you paint the whole picture in your mind.
Keeping it constant
There are certain elements of brand building that help a brand to remain consistent over time. Things like color, tone, object visuals and more all blend together to form concepts: concepts that are repeated across different brand campaigns. Let’s look at a hugely popular example: Apple’s iPod commercials.
We’ve all seen Apple’s iPod commercials, filled with silhouettes of people dancing, with the only color representing their attached iPods. The music is upbeat, the style of the silhouettes are hip and trendy, and every commercial is structured pretty much the same. In effect, you know exactly what brand is providing you with the commercial, no matter if you’ve seen it a million times or you’re looking at a brand new version of the campaign.
Because Apple elected to keep its branding the same across each of its iPod campaign commercials, it helped to form a schema in the mind of consumers, effectively eliminating their need to struggle to recognize a brand and instead, allowing them to make the connection instantly! Apple eliminated the middleman: the process of learning about a brand over and over again.
Apple isn’t the only brand who has figured out that brand recognition is the key to an improved brand perception: just about every company worth its salt has begun to look for new ways to decrease the time it takes to process a branding message and increase the impact that that message has once it’s internalized.
But, mastering brand recognition isn’t something that’s achieved overnight: it can take years and years, depending on the variables you’re using—namely the visuals that you’re working with. People need to truly internalize what you’re showing them before they’re going to make both conscious and unconscious connections regarding your brand. Once your target demographic learns the markers that define your brand, they’ll be more apt to employ them when signals point towards your brand and its messages.
And it all starts with visual messages. Because pictures and images are one of the first and strongest things we recall about a brand, building the recognition you want starts with easily internalized images. Logos, lettering, color schemes and products are all ideal ways to create cognizance about your brand in repetition—and, put them all together and you’ve got a recipe for campaigns that points to a bigger picture!
Leave nothing out
Consistency can be one of the biggest and most valuable assets that your brand has and it’s truly a feature that will separate you from other brands that are less equipped to make a lasting impression on your target audience. But, consistency can only be achieved fully if you commit to it on a full-scale branding level: this means everything from your business cards to national advertisements.
Because branding is a multi-level effort, the consistency of branding must also be realized on many levels. When it is, everything that your business produces will be instantly recognizable as unique to you—whether it’s an official memo on company branded letterhead or a full marketing campaign that perfectly ties together.