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Progressive Brand Development To Prevent Stagnation

Posted on the 07 December 2012 by Onlinere @onretailblog

Progressive Brand Dev To Prevent Stagnation Illustration

Following on from my last post on brand voice, I’m going to try to offer some helpful advice on how to maintain brand consistency and yet push forward so you don’t stagnate.

The process is fairly simple when you boil it down, you simply need to make sure any changes you implement are as subtle as possible so that you don’t cause confusion and then ensure the changes are rolled out and implemented in a cohesive manner across all of your communication channels.

David Aaker of ‘Prophet’ brand consultancy says:

“…consistency over a long time period should be sought at a high level whether it is called a philosophy, a pattern, or a brand identity.”

Sarah Hofstetter from 360i says that it’s not consistency that you should aim for with your brand but cohesion. She says that the latter:

“means telling a story that hangs together in an appropriate way depending on where you are and who you’re talking to… consistency results in matching luggage, which doesn’t allow you to adapt to the medium.”�

Hofstetter was making a statement here about the portrayal of your brand within social media and of course your messages need to be cohesive, especially when your brand is represented in many different channels. This statement is valid in context but ‘consistency’ definitely applies when looking at your brand over the longer-term rather than in a specific snapshot of time.

The Venerable Book of Brand Commandments

Having established your brand voice it’s important to maintain it and ensure there is cohesion throughout your marketing. With this being imperative you may find yourself being overly restrictive in your brand direction and with so much effort being exerted making sure everything is ‘on-brand’ there is a danger that you can stagnate.

When developing brand guidelines or rules you need to leave the door open for beneficial progressive development, the brand guidelines must not become a dictatorial book of commandments that must never be changed until you decide to re-brand. Your first priority should be a cohesive voice but this does not negate the need to allow room for development.

Since even your Creative Director is not perfect, you are not going to come up with the perfect brand overnight, there will be areas of your brand that will need improvement as time goes on. Concentrate any development on areas that are weak or need fixing and do not tinker for the sake of it, I’m not advocating constantly changing things just for development’s sake!

Watch For Opportunities

If your business is considering branching out into a new market or launching a new product, this can be the perfect time for a considered review of how your brand might be improved. Here it’s a case of branding your new venture in a manner that is cohesive with your existing offerings but not necessarily strictly consistent.

By way of example, when Nandos decided to launch a range of salad dressings alongside their existing hot sauces they caused a little confusion amongst consumers who, because of the branding of the bottles, made the assumption that they’d be pouring hot sauce onto their salad and thus sales were slow.

“Even though the salad dressing bottles were clearly labelled ‘Vinaigrette’ we [the consumers] saw it as ‘peri peri sauce.’ Nandos changed their salad dressing packaging and sales increased.” – Source

The trick is to continually monitor your brand, paying particular attention to any key points such as product launches or new ventures and, with your brand vision in mind, subtly enhance it where appropriate. Keep in mind all your different communication channels and how any changes you make might be implemented across all of them.


So what should you take from reading this article? Hopefully a sense of challenge to continually progress your brand, regularly review your approach, positioning and presentation. It’s tempting when you have an established brand to get on with your daily business and leave well alone, but you could be missing out by not re-aligning or subtly enhancing your brand.

“Ultimately, ‘Adapt or Die’ is not just a business mantra it’s actually a business imperative.” – Source

If you get this right, you should be able to just keep an eye on your competitor brands rather than having to take a reactionary approach to catch up when you notice that they are thinking ahead of you.

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