New and ground-breaking marketing often grabs our attention. But the evidence points to consistency as the key to brand growth. How can brands be consistent yet still attract their audience’s attention?
One of the benefits of working in the insights industry is you get to comment on brands and advertising. It’s fun to see what brands get up to and how they respond to the changing environment around them.
Everyone loves a success story. Challenger brands that shake up a category and change the rules command our attention. We celebrate the novel and the new too. Stories of exciting new brands and bold, ground-breaking advertising fill Marketing publications. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all great marketing equates with novelty.
But in the real world of marketing it appears the opposite is true. Consistency is the path to success. Byron Sharp references this as a rule for growth in his publication ‘How brands grow’.
Glance down the BrandZ Top 100 for 2019 and among the stars you see many familiar brands in the list – Visa, McDonald's, Coke and Nike to name a few. Can we learn something about consistency from these long-standing success stories?
Consider Nike for a moment. Nike made a big splash last year with a controversial re-boot of their ‘Just Do It’ campaign. They quickly followed this with ‘Dream Crazier’, challenging female stereotypes in sport. By communicating a sense of higher social purpose Nike were embracing topics that were (and still are) very much ‘in the moment’. They weren’t afraid to provoke either. This polarising combination captured our attention. The executions won awards too.
But dig a little deeper and there was a great deal of familiarity in these campaigns.
- They stuck with ‘Just Do It’, their famous tagline
- The content featured many sporting and active scenes and used well known stars – not that new for Nike
- Tonally these were very consistent with past advertising – they were energetic and dynamic executions. This is what we know, expect and love from Nike
And here’s the thing. ‘Purpose’ could easily have strayed into a heartfelt, inclusive emotive territory. But Nike chose not to do this, but to challenge and provoke. True to the Nike spirit.
Therein lies the core challenge, it’s almost an oxymoron. Be consistent but be interesting. Refresh memory structures but appeal to novelty too. It takes a clever bit of creativity to strike the right balance.
The problem too is consistency doesn’t sound very sexy. In a world where novelty reigns it’s easy to mix things up for the sake of change with your brand positioning. Consistency is not an easy sell. It takes courage to ‘stay the course’ with your brand. It also takes self-awareness. Do you know what brand ‘essentials’ you need to carry forward? Are these still fit for purpose?