With successful brands, these guidelines will help guarantee
consistency of message - through press or TV communications, but also through
social media conversations. Consistency
is important to help build and reinforce brand engagement. Alignment of language, tone and visual cues
across all touch points will help your brand to stand for something which will in
turn encourage a sense of connection with consumers.
As well as the longer term benefits of building loyalty,
consistent brand guidelines have a more immediate value in terms of
shortcutting mental processes – communicating with consumers on a deeper level
by driving immediate recognition. This
is clearly important in store, where shoppers have to deselect before they
select, to cope with the wealth of choice.
Where brand values and identity are apparent through the packaging
design, and aligned with ATL communications, your pack is working to reinforce
your marketing messages with very little conscious processing required, thus
allowing you to get more impact from your marketing budget.
Ehrenberg-Bass quite rightly talked
about the importance of recognising your brands Distinctive Assets. Knowing
what your brand stands for and what aspects of your branding communicate this
position are important first steps in terms of being able to protect and
Unfortunately, too often brand guidelines are owned wholly
by brand owners and marketing teams and the principles are not applied as
effectively to other essential components of the brand – for example the
product itself. The sensorial
characteristics of the product and indeed packaging can work harder to improve
the consumer experience and ultimately drive loyalty. Ensuring that a product lives up to
expectations is more than it being liked as much – the physical properties can
trigger deeply held conceptual associations around the benefits it offers both
from a functional and more emotive perspective.
For example our research has shown that a lemon fragrance in a shampoo
promotes a feeling of clean more so than a floral fragrance despite the actual
product benefits being equal1.
So understanding what the sensorial properties of your product are
communicating is key to delivering true alignment with your brand promise. Recognising your sensory brand assets (or
sensory signature) is vital to ensure that any product changes (be it cost
cutting, a supply change or quality improvement) do not impede the ability of
your product to reinforce (or at least live up to) your brand positioning. On the flip side, your product might be
communicating benefits which are not currently strongly associated with your
brand thus representing an opportunity to change perceptions through your comms
and brand imagery to better reflect the product experience.
Ultimately, sensory branding can help to take the guess work
out of new product development – at the most basic level if you know the
position you are aiming for and the consumer need you are satisfying, then
consumer input can be used to shape a product brief where the sensory profile
actively meets these criterion.
My key advice is to stop thinking about brand and product in
isolation – it’s when all aspects of the proposition are perfectly aligned that
the magic happens.
1The cross-modal effect of fragrance in
shampoo: Modifying the perceived feel of both product and hair during and after
washing – Food Quality and Preference, Volume 20, Issue 4