Messaging Magic (II of IV)

Consistency

Once you’re sure you’re saying the right things, the trick is to keep saying them. Remember Emerson’s axiom that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds? Forget it. That’s nice for personal philosophy, but when it comes to communicating a brand, consistency has its merits.

The marketplace is big, diverse, crowded and noisy. Consumers have short attention spans. You have very little time to get your message across in lots of different contexts, etc., etc. …you know the litany. But, the fact of the matter is that no matter how familiar we are with these truths, they can still be difficult to address. The temptation is to let context drive content rather than use content to shape context; messages can easily wind up all over the place in both literal and figurative ways. There’s an important equation to be balanced here; that is, how to ensure relevance to specific environments while preserving the overall uniformity of your brand.

This question can be re-phrased in a slightly more human way; how do you get across the same set of messages everywhere without being boring? Sometimes brand managers can come off as a bit rigid. After all, no one wants to listen to a one-note song played over and over again. On the other hand, it’s good to remember that what you live and breathe every day, other people have only a few seconds to focus on. Consumers don’t have nearly as much time to become bored with your message as you do. To a certain degree, you really do have to “hit them over the head” if you want things to sink in…but you have to do so with finesse. The trick is to balance frequency with freshness. Remember – in this case, repetition does not equal redundancy. Repetition is the ongoing statement of key points; redundancy is when that ongoing process slips into sameness.

Consistency requires calibration between the how and the what of messaging – between the vehicles you use to communicate and the content they carry. Consistency also requires coordination both within media and across media. For example, a series of print ads can reinforce each other even as they reference a message that’s been brought to life through moving media such as television or streaming video. At the same time, press placements can pick up on these themes by incorporating key words, phrases or iconography in editorial and sponsored content. The critical principle here is “alignment.” Different media, different audiences, different time frames – each must be addressed to ensure maximum impact within their unique parameters. Yet, the messages used in all cases must tie back to a common point of origin; and that common point is the unique character of your brand.

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