Balancing Brand Consistency vs. Brand Adaptability

Balancing Brand Consistency vs. Brand Adaptability

Being an agile business is one of the biggest multi-industry trends in the business world today. Adapting to market feedback, industry trends, and even social media pressure has all become the norm and perhaps even a necessity. Yet all of these trends fly in the face of decades of common knowledge which says: strong brands are built on a consistent, recognizable message.

As is the case with many things, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. Today, we will explore how businesses can effectively balance brand consistency and brand adaptability.

Brand Identity, Brand Image, and Brand Message

Brand Identity, Brand Image, and Brand Message

Before we discuss how consistency and adaptability both have their places when it comes to branding, we should first identify exactly what “branding” can mean. Here are just a few ways in which a brand interacts with the public:

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Brand Image is how a brand is perceived by the public. Unlike brand identity which can be controlled by the business itself, brand image is reactionary and has the potential to fluctuate quickly and frequently.

Brand Message is a boiled down, simplified version of a brand’s identity, personality, and value proposition. Nike’s brand message can be summarized by the tagline: Just do it. While brand message is more complex than a slogan, they are part and parcel. 

The Importance of a Consistent Brand Identity

The Importance of a Consistent Brand Identity

To build and maintain a strong brand, consumers need to understand what your brand is all about. Constant change is confusing to a consumer base that has bigger problems than keeping up with your newest marketing campaigns. This is why the strongest brands on earth focus on curating and reinforcing a consistent brand identity. 

To illustrate this point, let’s consider one of the most iconic brands in the world: Coca Cola. The design of the coke bottle has remained shockingly similar over the past 100 or so years. So when your parents were in the grocery store, that same white on red logo drew their eyes, as it does yours, or your children’s or your grandchildren’s. Advertisements, messaging, and brand image may change, but a bottle of coca cola is immediately recognizable thanks to consistent brand identity.

Managing Brand Image in the Public Eye

For an example of how not to manage brand image, let’s shift from coke to their primary competitor: PepsiCo. Pepsi has long been marketed as the fun, youthful version of coke. That brand message took the form of a now infamous commercial starring Kendall Jenner which used the Black Lives Matter movement as a springboard to sell soft drinks. 

The result? An internet firestorm. Pepsi’s brand image took a swift and damaging hit. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement were justifiably upset by the out of touch marketing campaign which seemed to exploit a very real political movement to sell Pepsi. Those on the other side of the Black Lives Matter issue took offense by Pepsi’s pandering to the “woke” youth of America.

This PR crisis lasted nearly a full year, as Pepsi doubled down on their message and insisted that it promoted harmony and peace. This is an example where listening to consumers can make or break a brand. When brand image has been so obviously tarnished by a particular action, that is precisely when swift action is needed. There is a fine line between sticking to your guns and dying alone on a proverbial hill.

Adapting Brand Messaging Based on Market Analytics

Adapting Brand Messaging Based on Market Analytics

Market analytics is essentially the measurement of how effective a marketing campaign is or has been. Adapting your brand strategy based on market analytics is perhaps the biggest grey area when it comes to consistency vs. agile adaptation. While each brand and its associated situation remains unique, here are a few questions to ask when considering when and how your brand message should adapt based on consumer feedback.

What is the root cause of negative market analytics? Before any action is taken, a negative metric should be closely examined to determine the cause. Maybe your customers loved the brand message but simply hated the art design or a thousand other variables.

Is our brand message meeting customer expectations? The public has a tendency to change gradually, then suddenly. If your industry has experienced a major shift in perception, adaptation may be the only viable solution.

Will this potential brand message shift fit with our brand personality and core values? Amazon is a controversial company. Amidst allegations of workers’ rights issues, a CEO who makes over $3,000 a second, and anti-competition practices, Amazon has remained a stalwart in the cCommerce space. Why? Because their core value is unparalleled customer service and convenience. For better or worse, the public is willing to overlook a lot of grey areas if they know what they are getting from a company.

Clock Tower Insight Helps Brands Adapt and Grow

Clock Tower Insight is proud to work with a wide range of B2C and B2B industries, including retail, CPG, food service, and advertising organizations. We believe in using powerful, cutting edge research to offer brand-specific insights. With this insight, we work with brands to turn the data into actionable information, and eventually into business growth. Our services include brand positioning, customer experience management, and much more.
Learn more about how Clock Tower Insight can help your business today.