Ducks in a row


The importance of Brand Continuity

by Jack Shepherd
April 7th, 2017

Digital Design Director

Launching a brand is exciting and sometimes anti-climatic. Your hard work has paid off over the last few months and everything has come together according to plan. All too often we find ourselves in a rewarding position to be in. The project was successful, everyone is happy launching product all can be proud of and things are on the up and up.

And then, it comes time to see the brand through. Creating a brand is dare we say the “fun part”. Ensuring the brand is phased in across everything is where the real test comes into play. That next step of your brand is maintaining a consistent voice for all touch points be it in advertising, online or in-person.

Life after launch

What happens after a brand is created or redesigned? Enter the brand execution phase. This is where you implement the brand assets and direction across all of your channels. If it’s a new company, it would be introducing your product or service to the world. If it’s an add-on to what you have, you’re making sure your existing customers know about it and you’re reaching new ones. If it’s a rebrand, remind people you’re there and reintroduce yourself.

Businesses hire design firms because they provide specialised services they are unable to produce otherwise in-house. The design company you hire ideally becomes an extension of your business. An agile, bootstrapped team ready to fill in where you might typically fall short.

The hand-off

Perhaps you have a capable in-house team who can take the brand assets and maintain the integrity of the original vision. More often, though, this is not an option – because you hired a third party to consult in the first place to make sure the work was on point.

So the work gets delivered. But between the hand-off and the execution, if there is no follow through there is a major disconnect.

Brand as a Guide

When you think of the phrase Brand Guide the word ‘Guide’ can be a little misleading. If it were worded more strongly, it would seem a little strict or overbearing. What was the point of going through a brand exercise if the content is ignored or abandoned, or the staff implementing the work is incapable of participating at the level of quality needed to see things through? This, of course, all comes down to budget, delegation and resources available. But it’s a shame and happens much too often across all industries: lack of resources to see it through.

I’m all for breaking the rules when you need to. Brand extensions, short-lived promotional tie-ins, collaborations, one-offs. There are all sorts of situations where you might need to push the limit of what your brand looks like to some extent. But this is the exception and not the rule.

Consistency is king

Forget content for a minute. Being consistent is mission critical. If your identity is beautiful, but your website doesn’t match, you have a problem. Rolling out work and phasing things in is one part. But stopping half way or ignoring platforms altogether can cause issues and create confusion at best.

It’s not just what you look like; it’s what you say. The type of content you’re putting out there. Does it fit within the framework or your brand? Or are you just going off script and thinking about each piece as you go in an isolated effort. This is where strategy comes into play to ensure you’re sticking to a script.

It’s not personal; it’s business

When we talk about brand continuity, one can quickly consider parallel’s in other worlds. In movies, usually, there is a team member who makes sure from scene to scene there are cohesive shots that flow from one to the next. Details like wearing a hat in one shot to the next are thought about. This is so that the viewer can enjoy the movie without being put-off or scrutinising over the details that were overlooked or missed. Hopefully, you have a good script, cast and the story is enjoyable too. Oh, and the director is important, paramount even.

Franchises are another excellent example. Business owners buy into a system that works because it has processes, sales material, marketing, promotions in place that can be followed. Franchisees pay a premium to be a part of that system, so you know they will make sure they are following that plan as closely as possible for a return on their investment.

Everywhere and Beyond

Say for example your logo is great, your print material is perfect, your website is not terrible, too. But you kind of half-baked your content and your social media accounts are inconsistent. That’s a confusing thing for your customers. They’ll wonder what is going on or is this even the same company?

Did your marketing department take over but didn’t follow or ‘get’ the new brand? Maybe someone on the team has their own agenda or has gone rogue. Are there additional resources required, training, hires to can add to the team or certain portions to can hire for? With turnover and new promotions, it can go sideways quickly. Getting everybody on board and buying in is necessary to having everything work together towards a goal.

After a project is launched, staying on as a brand advisor for continuity may be the solution. A general maintenance contract or retainer should fit the bill to ensure things stay on track. Breaking things up into phases can help. All in-house departments and any external service providers need to *stay* on the same page.

A little love and attention is always required. Do as I say, not as I do. What you say you are, what you think you are and what you do should be the same thing.

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