Brand Consistency Versus Cultural Change

Your brand’s personality needs to evolve…or die

The evolution of life on Earth is a theory because it cannot, critics argue, be observed. Evolution, and its less desirable opposite, can be observed quite easily in the business world however.

Brands are either experiencing growth or decline—evolving or devolving. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “he not busy being born is busy dying.”

Natural selection in commercial enterprise can be as brutal as nighttime on the jungle floor. That’s why smarter brands elect to adapt and survive over becoming a predator’s next meal.

But does evolving, adapting…changing the brand culture, harmonize with the prime directive—the constantly beaten drum of every brand’s mantra—CONSISTENCY?

As times change, so too should branding evolve to stay current, relevant and top-of-mind but all we’ve ever been told about branding is to standardize, be consistent and stay on message. The solution is, even for the smallest brands, to evaluate the brand standard and make a complete and swift change that resonates with your target market’s current reality without abandoning everything you’ve built.

There is a lot of value in an established brand. Mindshare is captured with all of the nuances you’ve standardized and promoted…logo, color, type, art and message congeal to speak to your audience. But when the effort becomes dated, no matter how consistent and frequent your push is, it’s time to adapt to survive.

Perhaps no brand is more consistent than Coca Cola, yet their branding is constantly evolving, exploring and remaining relevant. Their logo is modified, tag lines are updated and messaging advances to speak to the next generation of soda drinkers and brand evangelists. It’s easy for a billion dollar company to strategically retool but, it’s VFC’s contention that brands of all sizes can, and should, periodically reconcile the brand with the market.
Brand Evolution

Evaluate what is working, current, accessible and memorable to your target consumers. Coke never varies from Pantone color PMS185 and their now ubiquitous script, but they’re continually streamlining the logo to piggyback trends and develop new ones devised by teams of creative marketing strategists. Their tag lines change, packaging is retooled and innovations are explored to keep the brand current while keeping it consistent.

It’s true, “he who is not busy being born is busy dying…” there’s nothing we can do about that. But we can fight like hell with every resource in our branding arsenal against the dying of the light.