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Guest Column: Brand Consistency: Walking the tight rope: Denny Joseph

19-August-2015
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Guest Column: Brand Consistency: Walking the tight rope: Denny Joseph

It’s true that it is a common practice among advertising and marketing professionals to look at any advertisement – print or otherwise, and out academic interest analyze what is wrong in terms of the visuals used and the messaging and how a brand’s communication is not consistent.

However, what’s also true is that common people also do identify brands by the way they advertise. Whenever there is an aberration in the way a brand has been communicating, or an error for that matter, it does get noticed and rapidly becomes the subject of conversation. This shortfall occurs when the consumer starts identifying a brand by its messaging resulting from the way its communication is crafted. Digressing from the established and accepted communication results in loss of recall for the brand. This makes consistency in brand communication, both internal and external, of utmost importance for brands.

For a brand, maintaining consistency in communication becomes all the more difficult because of the proliferation of media channels that the target audience consumes today, and all of which become part of a brands media plan.

At any given point in time, a brand reaches out to consumers across touch points ranging from print ads, magazine ads, hoardings, point of sale materiel, website, online banners, blogs, published articles, on-ground outreach programs, events and many more.

With each of these activities being managed by one marketing team, but executed by an army of agencies, there are bound to be many a slip between the cup and the lip. It in fact becomes nothing less than a balancing act for the marketing team.

A general observation tells that each individual agency has a particular manner in which it approaches the work at hand. Moreover, each agency understands and implements the brand guidelines differently. Ultimately, the onus of maintaining consistency in every piece of communication that goes out rests with the brand’s marketing team.

What makes it really difficult to monitor the individual agencies is the fact that most campaigns are time bound and have short deadlines for execution. Excessive rounds of design iterations mean that the brand stands the risk of missing out on media release timelines or delaying a scheduled on-ground activation initiative. This not only implies financial losses, but also means a loss of face and one opportunity less for the brand to reach out to its target audience.

The challenge is much more amplified for brands that reach out to audiences across geographies. Here the challenge would also include translation and localization of communication in order to stay relevant with audiences across the regions.

Is there a solution? Apparently there is a new approach that has caught momentum across the world, but has very recently made inroads into India.  It involves the de-coupling of the central Creative process from the execution process of the campaign. Brand Execution or Creative Production Agencies specialize in adaptation and versioning of creative across media and geographies, thereby helping brands maintain consistency in messaging and visuals across target markets.

Typically, such agencies would swing into action post the development of the campaign idea and core visual by the creative agency. Thereafter, the entire range of campaign collaterals ranging from Print ad adaptations as per the media plan, TVCs, point-of-sale materiel, OOH, digital requirements etc. are developed and delivered to the relevant media on time. Thus ensuring complete campaign synchronicity.

All this, being done from one agency that becomes a production hub for the brand ensures that consistency is maintained in every piece of communication.

The author is Denny Joseph, Vice President, Key Accounts, Magnon eg+.

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