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Let’s be consistent about consistency

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Consistency is great, not only for consistency’s sake – too few companies truly understand the benefits of being consistent and the power that it has. Consumers sub-consciously rely on consistency for everything from easy recognition of their desired products on the shelf to maintaining their loyalty to a product.  Newsweek released a slide show recently of some product lines that have made changes to their brands in one way or another over the last few years. Their observations help support my point.

Take Tropicana for example… they launched a new package design that lasted only 6 weeks on the store shelves. People didn’t recognize the brand anymore and sales subsequently plummeted. Now was that just because of a lack of recognition, or was there possibly more behind it? Did people also think the product itself had changed since the packaging had? Tropicana did a fair amount of testing of this change before launching it…all to revert back to the uber-recognizable orange with the straw in it. Guess you can’t argue with sales, right?

Now how about the recent Gap debacle? Gap changed their logo from the probably 20 year old all cap, serif GAP to a sanserif  typeface. I don’t see the logo change as enacting any alteration to the quality of their brand…however, if I was not already familiar with the brand, I may assume, based on this new logo, that they are a cheap brand with little sophistication and a lack of quality. The “new” logo (which has already been done away with) just screamed outdated and out of touch, in my opinion.

Let’s also consider the famous Coke switch. Loyal users were up in arms when Coke changed its formula all those years ago… and it’s still talked about to this day. It was a huge mistake for them. They didn’t seem to put any merit in the consistency of their product being their primary money maker. What did they think it was people loved about Coke? The color of the can?

I love consistency when it is done purposely and with conviction. I love when businesses understand that their look is just as much a mark of their brand as the quality of their product. Consistency isn’t just a mark of being lazy and not wanting to move your brand forward, it is a carefully considered direction that I think more brands need to embrace and understand.

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