Brand Breakthroughs: For timeless brands, consistency overrides creativity

"Brand consistency goes way beyond managing its look and feel or even messaging. Consistency needs to be cultivated at a foundation level – where brand choices are made," writes Sumit Virmani, global chief marketing officer of Infosys, exclusively for Storyboard18.

By  Sumit VirmaniMay 22, 2024 2:10 PM
Brand Breakthroughs: For timeless brands, consistency overrides creativity
Today, technology allows brand managers to tailor messaging almost to the level of one-on-one conversations. This is our opportunity to be effectively creative in our messaging while also being on-brand, writes Sumit Virmani, global chief marketing officer, Infosys.

Think back to a time when you and your partner, after a day of doing stuff together in town, were looking for some place to go out to eat. You considered several new joints with rave reviews, but you were also already hungry, unsure of the wait and the menu in these new places, and – once again – ended up lunching at a familiar go-to. This is true for most of us most of the time. Just as true for buyers too – both business purchase decision-makers and consumers – who are always hungry for value and more often than not purchase from brands that they are already familiar with and trust.

So, it makes sense, that brands, more so in times of slowing purchases and tightening budgets, benefit more from showing up with familiarity, authenticity, and consistency rather than with the brash ‘newness’ of creativity. And, before you start to point to the need for freshness to cut through the clutter, I want to assure you that I am all for brands standing out – but authentically and in a way that customers easily recognize them. Because creativity is truly effective when it builds a consistent narrative.

Create more than a buzz

Often, the temptation for brand managers is to quickly do something to garner attention, to drive short-term momentum. And let’s not even debate the improvidence of newly minted brand managers making logo changes! At some level, I understand, it’s not easy – knowing we need longer-term investments as builders of brands but so often struggle to demonstrate the near-term value of our outreach efforts. But tactical short-term creative bursts do more to hurt than help brands. Few of us will disagree that it is important to create emotional associations with the brand for it to be able to draw buyers over time, with its promise, and thereby also drive growth.

Then it also stands to reason that the same strategic promise, communicated in the same easily recognizable way, needs to be out in the market long enough for buyers to imbibe it, process it, trust it. Consistency is the name of the game. Think of Nike’s Swoosh - consistent across its products and marketing promising excellence. Or the golden arches promising the same, very familiar McDonald’s menu, efficiency and price. In fact, the world’s most valuable brand – Apple – is consistent down to its unboxing experience!

Let data point the way

Today, technology allows brand managers to tailor messaging almost to the level of one-on-one conversations. This is our opportunity to be effectively creative in our messaging while also being on-brand. The need of the hour is to think out-of-the-box, not to be different, but to move further up the value-chain to accelerate conversion and growth. Data, from analytics around our previous messaging, can point the best path forward.

The value of these analytics is that it enables us to see the consequences of our creativity and messaging thus far. So that we pave the way forward – not through repetitive communication, but repeatable creativity. Which, in other words, is creativity that works consistently for the brand.

Dove has been doing a great job, on this front, since embracing the ‘real beauty’ plank in the early 2000s, evolving their messaging creatively but consistently over the years. The brand uses sharp insights to guide the consistent communication of their promise – creatively tailoring it for the times. This year, for example, they published their academic study that summarizes how beauty impacts more than 33,000 people across 20 countries around the world. It’s not hard to see how that’s shaping their brand narrative.

Align authentically to your north star

Brand consistency goes way beyond managing its look and feel or even messaging. Consistency needs to be cultivated at a foundation level – where brand choices are made. It is about constantly making choices – from business to communication – that align with the brand purpose, because it’s the purpose that contains the brand’s ‘superpower’ to create unique impact. Think of how brand Infosys, for example, has always been about creating the next opportunity whether through its corporate university for employees, Infosys Springboard to bring free digital education to millions in the communities or helping its clients globally navigate the next technology challenge or transformation. When we brand managers find creative ways to consistently create and amplify programs that authentically serve the purpose – we leave not just the brand, but the world served by the brand – in a better place than it was before we started.

Sumit Virmani is the Global Chief Marketing Officer of Infosys. He writes a fortnightly column series 'Brand Breakthroughs’ on Storyboard18.

First Published on May 22, 2024 7:21 AM

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