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Inspiration vs. Consistency in Branding
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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Consumers evolve, so brands evolve, and — in turn — contemporary marketing and branding concepts must evolve as well. A recent survey by Branding Forward and Fast Company reveals how marketers today perceive the challenges and opportunities ahead.
A 73% majority of marketers believe that “the days of strategic consistency are over; it’s all about inspiration and engagement.” This response was chosen over the less popular statement that “it is critical to ensure that all of a brand’s various messages are strategically consistent.” Can’t a strategy be inspiring, engaging, and consistent? Consumers are certainly demanding more engagement from brands, and but it seems hasty to proclaim that strategic consistency is “over.” I’m all for following instincts and taking risks, but what exactly is the value of inconsistency?
When it comes to controlling the message, however, responses appear to be less assured; just 51% believe “it’s really important to understand how to control the message as much as possible,” and 49% believe that companies “must learn to surrender control.” Again, I would think there can be a middle ground between the two extremes. The fact that responses were essentially split shows that there may not be much argument for the superiority of either position, at least not yet.
Of course, things are still evolving. Most marketers expect social media to have a high impact on the industry, in addition to a number of other forces. But, while splintering target audiences (34%), the shift from mass marker to one-to-one (36%), disruptive technologies (38%) and media fragmentation (41%) were all also cited as forces that will impact marketing:

only 18% consider “strengthening cross-channel integration” a top priority
only 18% consider “staying on top of the latest marketing innovations” a top priority
only 13% consider “emphasizing segment-specific programs” a top priority
It is a complicated landscape. Responses to these types of questions could probably vary week over week. Perhaps we can’t predict the evolution of branding.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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