4 Ways to Balance Creativity and Consistency in Brand Design

By Dustin Myers, Foodable Industry Expert

Have you ever enjoyed the wit or creativity of a television spot but then had no idea what it was for? This is probably because they valued creativity without consistency. Different is not always better. In fact, when it comes to positioning your brand in your consumers' minds, you should be careful not to dilute your message.

Maybe you’ve grown tired of looking at elements of your brand and want to see something fresh. Some of us err on the side of wanting to change things up constantly. Others may never seek to change anything and grow out-dated and irrelevant. Is there a balance? How can we know when it’s time to do something new and creative, or when it’s best to maintain consistency?

There are two distinct areas to identify so that we can apply these principles correctly:

1. Foundational Elements

The foundational elements of your brand should stay consistent. These include items such as your logo, primary color palette, and tagline. The foundational elements should be developed to reflect the essence of the brand. Once in place, they shouldn’t change unless there is a fundamental strategic shift for the brand.

If Coca-Cola switched up their logo every few years just to stay fresh, their brand would not be recognizable all over the world. If Starbucks created an ad using blue and yellow, you wouldn’t associate it with their brand. It would be confusing and ineffective. Large brands understand the power of consistency in their foundational elements.

2. Secondary Elements

Secondary elements of your brand can include typefaces, secondary colors, and graphic styles. New items, seasonal promotions, and campaigns can provide a great opportunity to try something different, as long as it stays true to the foundational elements of the brand.

We see great brands roll out visuals that are extremely creative and fresh, yet they still remain unmistakably on-brand. You can usually identify an ad for Target without seeing the logo. That is because of their consistency. Starbucks is a great example of having new and exciting visuals during their seasonal promotions. Because they stay true to their foundational elements, you still know that it is Starbucks.

4 Tips on Being Creative but Consistent

Think about your audience. Are you wanting to change something because you are tired of seeing it, or because your audience is tired of seeing it? Remember that others are seeing it less frequently than you and you should be base decisions on their needs.

Don’t stick with something that doesn’t work. If your logo and visuals do not reflect the essence of your brand, you should consider if a rebranding effort is needed. It is better to make changes now than to consistently put out the wrong message.

Define what is constant and what can change. Every decision you make should align with the essence of the brand. If you don’t have a brand style guide, you should develop one. This will outline the foundational elements of the brand and the areas where you can venture out. You must create a foundation for consistent brand execution across all media.

Inject as much creativity as possible. Creativity actually thrives within restraints. Never settle for “good enough.” The competition is too fierce. Think of every interaction with your customer as an opportunity to wow them and foster a deeper connection.

So, remember: Consistency doesn’t mean the lack of creativity. Consistency creates the opportunity for creativity.