A successful brand gives people a cohesive experience no matter which channels and touch points they use to engage with it. But that doesn’t mean the experience has to be totally uniform. There’s plenty of space to be flexible, even playful, while still maintaining cohesion.

Here’s an example: while researching issue 2 of the Brand Report, we looked at two different campaigns by the investment brand Moneyfarm. The Invest Wisely campaign uses brightly coloured backgrounds, cut-out photographic images of objects, and snappy, commanding headlines. The No More If Onlys campaign uses darker, heavier colours, photographic backgrounds, and longer headlines based on historical quotes.

The two campaigns look quite different. But Moneyfarm’s brand is no less cohesive for that.

Of course, the Moneyfarm logo appears in both campaigns, labelling them both as part of the brand. A brand is much more than just a logo, but the logo is a powerful, unmistakable sign that a given communication belongs to that brand.

And crucially, the two campaigns feel similar. Behind the distinct messages and expressions, there’s evidence of a consistent personality influencing the style of the campaigns. No More If Onlys presents predictions that haven’t aged well; Invest Wisely presents homely objects that represent time well spent; both campaigns trust their audiences to get the point without a lot of explanation, and both have a sense of playfulness and humour that helps the messages to land. The two campaigns are like cousins: they’re individual, but you can see the family resemblance.

The two campaigns are like cousins: individual, but you can see the family resemblance

Moneyfarm campaign visual
Moneyfarm campaign visual

Read between the guidelines

There’s a negative stereotype of a brand manager as someone who says no to creativity, who uses the brand as a constraint to stifle exciting ideas. But there’s a good reason the industry standard term is brand guidelines, not brand rules. Good brand guidelines simply describe ways to use colour, type, tone of voice, and specific graphic devices like the logo to signal to audiences that different communications belong to the same family. Skilled creatives can find endless fresh and exciting ways to incorporate those signals.

And it’s important to encourage this kind of creative exploration. Without it, you risk losing your audience’s attention. If each new campaign or publication seems cloned from the one before, your audiences will stop noticing them, thinking they’ve seen and engaged with them already. Regularly pushing your brand into new territory keeps engaged audiences from switching off, and provides regular opportunities to engage new audiences.

This article is from issue 2 of the Brand Report. For more insights and action points to strengthen your brand, download the complete report now.

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