What is it and Why does it Matter?
Got Brand Cohesion?
On a regular basis, me or someone on my team will explain to a client that the reasoning behind a specific effort was brand cohesion. Or, we’ll warn a client that while one design or another might look great, it doesn’t carry or lend itself to brand cohesion. Some of our own marketing explains to prospective clients that brand cohesion is one of our specialties. You might be asking yourself, ‘what is brand cohesion’? Maybe you already know, but you’re not sure how important it is.
Put simply brand cohesion is the consistency of your message. The unwavering definition of your identity. The uniformity of your branding. Brand cohesion is the steady uniformity of your story.
brand co•hes•ion /brand/ [koh-hee-zhuh n] noun The act of displaying branding or brand details in a way that creates unity between them, such as between brand perception and brand appearance; establishing and/or maintaining a consistent message.
Don’t confuse consistency with cohesion. Consistency is doing the same thing predictably, whereas cohesion is doing things in a way that create unity. Both are needed to achieve success.
Cohesion is Creating Unity
Cohesion Alone is Not Enough
Brand cohesion will help to establish your brand and the various components of your business (products, services, client types, protocol and behavior) as having an underlying uniformity and strength that is more valuable, taken as a whole, than any single aspect. Cohesion can help make your customers or clients more loyal to your brand. Don’t underestimate the need to demonstrate a consistent message through uniformity or message and reliability of standards. However, don’t limit your branding either, use new concepts, designs and messaging in a way that unifies your entire image, to achieve strong brand cohesion.
While brand cohesion is an important factor in all your marketing and branding, cohesion alone is not enough to improve your relationship with customers or clients. You must also present a consistent message between brand appearance and brand message. You should consider your brand perception as well.
Brand appearance might include your logo, your product or some other aspect of your public face. If you use a beautiful model to represent your brand, but a fuzzy little duckling in your latest ad, you are leaving some disparity in your message. Whenever you step beyond your brand appearance in your marketing, you should consider ways that might recreate cohesion there. For example, your little duckling might be accompanied by the phrase, ‘chicks dig xyz product’ (a bit overused, I know, but it still makes for a cute example).
A Consistent Overall Message
Perception is another thing entirely, and shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to cohesion. For this, you should strive to understand and embrace your customer’s perception of your brand. If you sell swimwear, for example, your brand perception is likely to include warm weather, beaches, sun tans and sexiness. A dark blue background split by a white-hot lightning bolt over the words, electric swimwear, might be executed with beautiful artwork – but its design is noticeably lacking. Your product, packaging, brand and overall message should be consistent with brand perception as well.
If your brand is spread out over many products, concepts or services, it might be hard to establish a cohesive message. Consider creating individual brands or collections that each carry a cohesive messaging related to their product, appearance and perception. Creating a style guide is a great way to help organize your branding and brand assets and provides a good visual representation of your umbrella brand. A style guide also formalizes how those assets can be used to provide consistency. With or without a style guide, before designing a large offering, consider how each segment might or might not fit into any existing brands or if any new brands are needed. Of course, you can always outsource such an assignment.
by Rich Harris