Part 1: Summary and critical reading of ‘Consistency’.
Consistency, as the article says, -“enables people to efficiently transfer knowledge to new contexts, learn new things quickly, and focus attention on the relevant aspects of a task.” (reference here)
The article notes that there are four kinds of consistency, aesthetic, functional, internal and external.
It should go without saying that brands and logos are not only a big help but also essential to many corporations. There are usually a set of conventions for making and establishing a memorable brand. In the book ‘Challenging the big brands’ by Judith Evans and Cheryl Dangel Cullen, the authors make careful note of the colours used in the FedEx brand delivery service, noting:
“The Company selected its current FedEx logo from the five designs that landor presented. It is a bold design, using the company’s trademark colors, purple and orange. The colors were tweaked slightly for a more electric orange and stronger purple to reflect a more modern and dynamic society.” (Evans and Cullen 2003 Page 12)
Fed Ex did not change the core basics of their brand but instead just made the colours stand out more to reflect change. You will find that most brands are similar, their marketing may have changed but the core logo remains the same and the tweaks made to it are often very minor.
However while many people will tell you that brand consistency is everything, these days it seems like making clever logos isn’t quite enough, as Martin Lindstrom (2011) writes:
“- Whether it’s a soda can, a car, a doll, a fragrance, a smartphone, or laptop, your brand needs to be smashable, e.g., instantly identifiable via its shape, design, copy, contours, and even navigation. Aside from adolescents, who are always on the lookout for the coolest logos to set them apart from, or help them gain traction with, their peers, today for most consumers the logo comes in near-to-last place to other considerations.” (Lindstrom Martin 2011 Paraphrased)
In essence he suggests what was discussed in Learning Portfolio page one, the value of aesthetics. That a product that has its own unique look and feel is actually becoming more important than the branding of said product. An example of this has to be the work done by Apple. Brands are still important but aesthetics and visual design appears to be the new driving force for consistency.
This can work for things other than brands. Websites, for example often need to be consistent with how they convey information. As Gerry Gaffney on Search point put it:
“Sites should be internally consistent: standards and conventions should be established and applied throughout all the content. For example, a user who encounters the “Search” at the top right on one page will have problems if it’s arbitrarily moved to different locations on other pages of the site.” (Gaffney Gerry 2005)
Consistency effects usability, so not only is consistency a good idea from a business standpoint but even from a usability standpoint it’s still generally advisable.
That said, innovation is what truly moves companies forward and while holding onto the basics of what makes it work is a good idea in and of itself, it appears this can also be a problem, companies tend to play it safe. G. Michael Maddock in Brand New describes this phenomenon as ‘the Innovation paradox’:
“-Companies know introducing new products and services successfully is something they need to do in order to secure a healthy future. And yet they readily concede that they are not devoting sufficient resources to make it happen.” (G. Michael Maddock 2011)
Three examples of consistency:
1: Halo logo
While Some of the designs have changed over the years, the core foundation of the Halo logo has remained the same ever since 2001. The way the letters have looked and the original ring pattern of the title have remained consistent even when the rest of the design can change so drastically.
Halo’s logo really is an interesting example because even though the logo itself never looks exactly the same, game to game, the ‘feel’ of the logo remains and is on par with the general ‘feel’ of the entire franchise in the process. The dark background and the steel science fiction letters and the light blue color tint on everything remains consistent for over a decade now.
2: Google logo
Ever since the website first came up, this carefully color co-ordinated logo has been consistently the image people think of when they think of google. While google’s success has to come from the fact that it is a very well run search engine there is no denying that the consistency of it’s simply designed logo helped a bit. Google remains to this day the ‘default’ search engine and a very recognizable logo and brand have certainly helped with that.
Example 3: Coca Cola
Now here we go, truly a success story and a sign of how marketing and consistency can win out, the basic letter design of the Coca Cola logo has remained unchanged for over one hundred years. While some of the ways it has been marketed and presented may have changed, the logo itself has remained consistent in all that time and it has become the best selling cola in the world.
In fact the one time people tried to market coke in a different way and break the consistency that coke has built up all that time, did not go over so well.
By changing the tast and by extention the brand of Coca Cola, the sales plummeted and ‘New Coke’ was replaced by ‘Coke Classic’ which brought sales right back up. It was the same drink but back to the same advertisement and branding that it had always been up to that point.
Evans, Judith And Dangel Cullen, Cheryl (2003) Challenging the big brands. Gloucestor Massachusetts USA: Rockport publishers Inc.
Gaffney, Gerry (2005) Why consistency is critical. (Feburary 25 2005) Site point. Retrieved May 6 from:http://www.sitepoint.com/why-consistency-is-critical/
Lindstrom, Martin (2011) How to build an unforgettable ‘smashing’ brand, I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the logo: (11 April 2011) Retrieved May 6 2012 from:http://www.fastcompany.com/1745884/how-to-build-an-unforgettable-smashable-brand-identity-hint-its-not-the-logo
Maddock, G. Michael Luisa C. Uriarte (2011)Brand New. Hoboken, New Jersey (USA): John Wiley & sons inc.
In Halo logo [Digital image] Retrieved May 2 2012 from:http://anrecreationagamerscritiquee.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/my-latest-obsession/
In Google [Digital image] Retrieved May 7 2012 from:http://www.discoverme.com.au/News/Google-Instant.aspx
In Coca Cola logo [Digital image] retrieved May 7 2012 from:http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com/coca-cola-a-bottle-can-be-iconic/