Naturally the group in charge of the research said it in a more tactful way. But the raw truth holds: Doing unnecessary changes to your brand — whether it's changing a slogan, packaging, shape, color, or style — without consulting the audience may prove to be very damaging to brand recognition.
These facts should ring true with all of us. The reason lies behind the weird workings of human behavior. When consumers get used to seeing and interacting with brands in a certain way, they begin to associate with the brand in that exact form. If the form changes in a way that the consumer didn't expect or doesn't like, the pattern doesn't fit the consumer's default, and brand loyalty, or the association with the brand, can immediately begin to fade.
What fickle creatures we are!
The research done by Decode Marketing and brandgym backs up these claims. The group studied brands in Europe and the U.S., as well as consumers from around the world, and created scores for different categories and features of different brands and brand images. The research brought out some interesting points.
First, it is not just the color or the logo that consumers associate with brands. The product size, shape, or how the packaging looks can make a huge impact on brands. Yellow Tail wines of Australia saw this a few years ago when they changed absolutely nothing except one thing — the cork turned into a screw cap. The minute change made a ton of sense for the brand, because the screw cap saves the company thousands of dollars in terms of shrinkage and wasted product. However, drinking a bottle of wine from a screw cap bottle in the U.S. (though studies show that the cork vs. screw cap makes zero difference in terms of flavor) seems cheap and unrefined. A screw cap takes away from the experience of opening up a wine bottle. Yellow Tail didn't see the effect it would have on its brand until sales fell and they changed many of its bottles back.
Second, the cost in being original is worth it. A part of the report detailed that a undistinct brand can trigger immediate thoughts of competitors. The fact makes sense because, with a lack of differentiation, the consumer must be able to compare the brand with something they know in order to create meaning. If the only things that create meaning to them are the other brands in the industry, the one without something original can struggle.
Take a look at the link and read more takeaways from the report. Let us know what you think.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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