via Forbes: For any consumer product, consistency is essential each time a consumer comes into contact with any of its attributes or features. It is through consistent interaction that a brand perception is formed.
For this article, I will examine three of the many elements that can help define a brand, establish its impression and contribute to its success: differentiation, packaging and identity.
For any product purchased or consumed, consumers have options to choose from. For example, when it comes to transportation, a consumer could choose a bicycle, motorcycle, automobile, boat or countless other modes.
What helps one item stand out from the others and form a brand impression is its ability to meet specific user needs, its availability and that it appears to be a more compelling alternative than others.
When any of these are uniquely distinguishing characteristics, the brand impression is strengthened and preference established. As an example, when a consumer thinks of luxury automobiles, Lexus, BMW and Mercedes may immediately come to mind. These brands have crafted their messaging, positioning and product experiences to establish and solidify that perception and set themselves apart.
Likewise, well-executed branding for a store-owned product can also create a strong impression. Such is the case with Kirkland Signature brands by Costco. Not only have consumers come to trust this brand as being as good or better than their brand-name equivalents, but Costco has also established a strong enough brand perception that the national brand equivalent need not be present as a comparison.
These examples underscore that consumers may associate specific brands with superior performance, outcomes or consistent experience, forming the basis for loyalty.
Think about those brands that you have personally favored and have therefore become loyal to even when other options are available. Is it a particular battery that seems to outlast others or better meet your expectations? Perhaps a favorite restaurant that delivers a consistently enjoyable experience? Or maybe it’s a clothing line that fits you just right and aligns with your values and social responsibility beliefs.
Regardless of category, if consistency is delivered, consumers are generally likely to become more reliant on that brand and more likely tell others about their preference. Research by the Temkin Group found that 87% of surveyed customers who had a very good experience with a brand are very likely to purchase more from the company and 79% are likely to recommend it.
Most of our company’s clients represent consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. However, any deliverable — service, durable good or entertainment venue — must be packaged consistently. Case in point: presume you went to a particular theater and had an over-the-top experience that left you longing for more. But the next time you went, it dramatically under-delivered. For many, this inconsistency may cause pause when considering that venue in the future.
Identifiers that help consumers recognize packaging could include colors, lettering, symbology, smart utilization of space, shape, feel and ease of use. Most would recognize Ben & Jerry’s ice cream products — fun, consistent, unique names and inviting graphics. And despite iterative changes through the years, the brand’s core elements have been consistent, thus making it distinguishable on the shelf and attractive to shoppers of the product.
The same is true with the CPG products our firm deals with day in and day out. If the package is captivating, accurate, compelling and impression-forming, consumers will come to expect a similar deliverable with each future product introduction. Consistency in packaging can also fuel loyalty because it’s something customers grow to know and expect.
Four specific package design elements that must work together to be considered good branding include color, shape, icons and font. In addition, the features and benefits must be easily seen and understood. Packaging needs to compel shoppers to choose your product from the shelf in as little as six seconds or less.
One of the most identifiable branding features may be the logo. It’s undeniable that Nike has a recognizable logotype. Whether on shoes, shirts, bags or sporting equipment, the Nike symbol is immediately familiar.
Branding is also extensible to storefronts, websites, social media platforms and all forms of media. By promoting and reinforcing core brand attributes while ensuring cross-platform consistency, consumers will understand exactly what the product represents. For instance, as banking has migrated increasingly to internet platforms, it became imperative for these institutions to remain consistent across the consumer experience. I’m impressed with my own personal bank’s ability to offer the same experiences across platforms with orchestrated branding that is aligned with my expectations.
For other consumer goods, branding is part of the message. Harley-Davidson, headquartered near our offices in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, is an ideal example. How many other brands can you name where loyal groups of users actually brand their bodies with their identifying mark?
How are you helping your clients reinforce their brands through differentiation, packaging and identity? Remember, when building an effective brand, never underestimate the power of consistency.