Brand Consistency – It’s Key, Just Ask Your Brain

[PATTERNS] REFLECT ONE OF THE BRAIN’S OLDEST AND DEEPEST NEEDS—TO FILL THE WORLD WITH LIT PATHWAYS AND OUR LIVES WITH A DESIGN.” –DIANE ACKERMAN, AN ALCHEMY OF MIND

Humans are creatures of habit, and our behavior, the way we dress, our daily rituals, the way we play a certain sport are all orderly, patterned and predictable.  It’s our brains coping mechanism for handling the infinite information we expect it to process all the time. It would be impossible to store and recall everything the brain ever encountered, so the brain creates and identifies patterns, casts a wide net, and predicts the probable based on stimuli. This notion applies seamlessly to brand recall.   When it comes to creating a line or brand extension, leveraging an already established pattern is paramount. Be consistent with forms, design, and hierarchy of information for maximum recall.

Brand consistency creates and reinforces visual patterns that the brain can instantly recognize. The brain is a pattern-crazed being. In a world filled with information vying for attention, it is constantly looking for ways to categorize and neatly file away this information, ready to pluck it instantly from the archives when we want to recall it. By creating one visual language and building on it, you make the brain’s job a lot less difficult—thus it can recall a brand with greater ease.

Rather than identifying two totally different looks, it recalls one, and picks up on the subtlest of tie-ins with your line extension.  So if you think that consumers won’t pick up on color differentiators for flavors, or different utility, you’re wrong. The brain has already stored away the information of one package, and applied the pattern to your new package design.

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME SUCCESSFUL EXAMPLES:

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Vita Coco has made a name for itself as a natural alternative to sugary sports drinks.  When it extended the product line to include flavors, it utilized the same hierarchy of information and design language strengthening the brand recall and, in turn, the salience of the product.

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Not only do these chapsticks use color to delineate flavor, but they  perfectly mimic the beverages they were inspired by.  This creates excellent recall, even when extending into a new category.

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Herbal Essences created an iconic bottle and to make the most of this memorable shape, by applying the same treatments to each package, regardless of product utility.

Reinforcing patterns for the brain and creating subtle differentiators have made these brands successful in their extensions.  Next time you feel like a radical packaging design change, consider the brain, and all the groundwork it’s already done to etch your brand into its memory.

Amina AlTai is the Marketing Director for the Imagemme New York City office.

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