Why fluid branding is something every business should avoid

Newness is inherently tempting. As people adopt emerging technologies, brands have always followed suit. It's evolutionary. For as long as advertising has existed, brands have flocked towards new forms of communication in order to better present and differentiate themselves.

However, the success of this strategy is often dependent on whether the brand uses these technologies to provide something of value to its audience. Novelty alone does not justify adoption. So the delivery of convenience, entertainment, knowledge or monetary value must be acknowledged at all times.

While some brands have embraced technology to provide value with proficiency, many have failed. Unfortunately, with today's landscape and tomorrow's forecast, the opportunities for brands to adopt new technologies will only increase exponentially, and as we have and will see, just adopting technology for the sake of it is not enough. Ultimately, a plan of consistency must be put in place moving forward.

Brands help individuals consume and project, so brands must remain consistent. As we know, it isn't easy for brands to craft and preserve these images, styles and voices in order to differentiate themselves. But what each brand has in common with one another is their need to maintain consistency. With the emergence of new technologies, the opportunities for advertising are jeopardizing a brand’s end-goal of a consistent identity.

There is growing room for error. Although adoption of the new is exciting, a brand must prioritize consistency above all else.

What all new technologies have in common, are their ability to provide freedoms. From a brand’s point of view, these freedoms are opportunities for expression. From print to radio to TV to the web, brands have always utilized new technology to better express themselves. This has been most evident when in 2009, Facebook made Business Pages identical to users'. At this moment, brands began to express themselves as near human and as your "friend". This trend hasn't been curbed. Now, individuals literally engage with brands by texting them. As technology knows no limits, these types of opportunities will continue to flourish, making such relationships that much more intimate.

Read: How to find the right strapline for your business

The concern? When we realise it's a brand's purpose to maintain consistency, the rapid emergence of technologies and freedoms for a brand to express themselves will leave room for inconsistencies. When technology is thoughtlessly adopted, we can see images, styles and voices become fragmented by platform, channel, medium and context. For example, when a brand rushes to a new social platform or adopts trends like Chatbots or virtual reality without a consistent purpose or an alignment to provide value, brand splintering will occur. While these risks have always existed, they're particularly worth mentioning now and that much more evident, as new technologies are surfacing faster than ever before.

How does a brand navigate the previously mentioned pitfall? It's quite simple. They must return to their roots. A brand now must ask themselves, what is their mascot or persona? This exercise will allow brands to sustain the swell of changes on the horizon by establishing criterion that new technologies will demand. An amalgamation of characteristics is paradoxical, and more so detrimental to what a brand is supposed to be.

So by imagining brands as living, breathing individuals or creatures, a consistent persona will manifest itself, preventing brands from conveying conflicting images, styles and voices. As technology advances and more freedoms emerge, an established, well thought out brand identity becomes essential to marketing and advertising success. Without this, a brand will be perceived as fluid. And a fluid brand is no brand at all.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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