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Branding

Should Your Brand Identity Be More Responsive?


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It’s time to redefine the idea of brand consistency.

When it comes to your brand’s mission and values, consistency is crucial–there’s no denying that. However, the experience your brand provides in different contexts should greatly vary. Why? Having a responsive brand identity means that you can appeal to a wide range of audiences and situations while still staying true to your brand’s core values.

So how do you decide whether to make your brand parameters sturdy like The Great Wall of China, or responsive to context like a chameleon? Read on to understand why responsive branding matters, and how you can defy traditional brand consistency.

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Why Flexible Branding?

In the past, brand managers relied on consistency and repetition to establish a brand’s identity. Under this philosophy, consumers were exposed to the same brand imaging and messaging across every channel.

Today, consumers interact with brands on a much more sophisticated level. From Instagram contests to Snapchat advertising, each social platform provides a different user experience with diverse audiences.

Think of it this way: what happens to the most boring conversationalist at a dinner party? First, people engage just to be polite, but by the end of the night the poor guy is either sitting by himself or he’s trapped someone into a mind-numbing discussion about the pros and cons of teeth-whitening toothpaste.

You don’t want your brand to be that guy, do you?

Modern brands have no choice–they must create diverse experiences and interactions. Otherwise, they’ll get left in the corner talking to a stranger about toothpaste, or worse, not talking to anyone at all.

Spotify: Adapting to Content

Spotify’s latest ad campaign is a great example of a flexible branding system. In contrast to the simple green and black color scheme that comprises Spotify’s app, marketing materials from the popular streaming service are energized with multicolored photos of singers and bands.

Although these images are decorated with dozens of varying colors and designs, Spotify uses a standardized image filter to ensure that all artist photos are enhanced with a distinct, branded look. This flexible identity helps Spotify appeal to millions of diverse listeners and artists while still preserving the unique music culture the company has cultivated.

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MailChimp: Making a Responsive Mascot

Having a flexible identity also works well for email marketing service MailChimp. By taking advantage of the popularity of their mascot Freddie, MailChimp is able to change Freddie’s appearance in order to appeal to different contexts. Whether he appears as a Vinyl Freddie toy, Cat Hat Freddie, or on a billboard as Basmati Freddie, the loyal chimp maintains his blue hat and friendly smile so that he is easily recognizable.

Having a Flexible brand identity helps MailChimp appeal to its design-oriented community and the rest of the world at large. Although the brand is based on email service, MailChimp finds creative ways to reach out to the community in different places both on and off the web.

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Should You Embrace Responsive Branding?

Having a responsive identity can boost brand awareness tenfold. Contemporary brands should keep consumers on their toes by providing unexpected interactions across media platforms. If you teach people to be surprised, they’ll keep coming back for more. This new approach is not without strategy, and designers facing this challenge will need to make deliberate decisions about where the brand can bend and where it will break.

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Michelle Polizzi is a freelance writer and former content coordinator for Brandfolder. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her bicycling around Denver, catching a live concert or cooking up a fresh vegetarian dish.

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