Monday, January 18, 2016

Brand Awareness and Consistency

I have written before about the link between marketing spend and brand awareness. I have also written about the link between brand distribution and brand awareness. However, there is a third factor that affects brand awareness - brand consistency. 

It doesn't matter if you have thousands of brand distribution points if your products primarily bear the identities of a large number of sub-brands, product names or co-brands instead of the brand itself. In fact, identifying each product or location with more than one brand (co-brand, sub-brand, etc.) can also be confusing. People may not link all of those products to the brand. Further, if the brand's products and services vary significantly in quality or in its attributes and features across executions regardless of branding treatment, all of those products and services may not register in people's minds as the same brand. 

Related to this is the problem of inconsistently rendering the brand's identity across executions of the brand. If different iterations of the same brand's identity exist in the market simultaneously, this adds to confusion and is likely to decrease brand awareness. 

So, inconsistencies in brand identity treatment or product quality or product attributes and features can confuse people. This is true of consumer packaged goods or location-based brands (restaurants, gas stations, retail stores, etc.) or any other type of brand. 

We are currently working with a client that has a very large number of locations for its brand in a relatively small geographic area. Despite this, its brand awareness is fairly low. I have visited many of its locations. They vary a lot in their quality and configuration and bear a number of different identities. The client thinks of them all as the same brand but it would be difficult for the public to do so.  

Brands that have grown through numerous acquisitions can create confusion, especially if all the brand did each time it acquired a new location was remove the old brand identity from signage and replace it with the new identity without changing the product or environment or experience. This is true of hotels, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores or any other type of retail format. 

Consistent brand identities linked to consistent products or services delivering consistent customer experiences leads to increased brand awareness. Inconsistent execution does not. And we all know that awareness is the cornerstone of strong branding

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