4 Brand Consistency Lessons from 2013's Top Companies
In 2013 Apple finally displaced Coca-Cola from its 13-year reign as the world’s favorite brand. It was also the year when Samsung cemented its place as one of the top ten brands in the world. Other, “older” tech giants like IBM, Intel and Microsoft also re-established their presence above the fold.
Some of these brands can teach you a lot about brand consistency. We take a look at four brand consistency lessons from some of the favorite brands in the world, and how they apply to your business:
1. Google’s streamlined design
Google—no.5 on Forbes Best Brands list—spent a good part of 2013 redesigning all of its properties. This was a problem unique to Google, which had hundreds of websites and tools tucked away in its portfolio of products. Not all of them shared the same visual design; very few were connected to each other, or to Google’s ambitious Google+ project.
The diktat from Larry Page was clear: establish a consistent visual web design across all Google properties while also cutting down on properties that didn’t have much traction (like Google Reader, Wave, etc.).
This redesigning exercise was important for two reasons:
- It connected every Google website to Google+, which, in a Facebook dominated world, is a key property for Google.
- It ensured a uniform, consistent brand experience for users. You could step into any random Google-owned website and intuitively know who runs the show.
2. Apple and iOS 7
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Apple, which displaced Coca-Cola as the world’s most loved brand, ended 2013 by undoing the work of the last 5 years. The public iOS 7 launch was one of the most important events for Apple as it marked a break from the earlier skeuomorphic inspired design of iOS 6 and OS X.
More importantly, it signified that Apple was willing to move on from the legacy of Steve Jobs and find footing on its own.
The branding lesson for businesses is clear: sometimes, you have to break away from your own (successful) past. As incredible as the original iOS design was, it was becoming seriously long in the tooth and required an overhaul in the face of increased competition.
A less adventurous company might have stuck to what worked in the past (a la Blackberry), but Apple stuck its neck out and changed the look and feel of its most successful product – something every brand can learn from.
3. IBM’s Smarter Planet
Most people know that IBM is a tech behemoth. Few know what IBM actually does. IBM has few consumer facing products. Most of what it creates – innovative hardware and software solutions – form the ‘invisible’ tech layer in governments and enterprises.
Because of this, it was important for IBM to establish its identity as an innovation powerhouse. After all, unlike Apple or Google, IBM can’t parade a new tech gadget to wow consumers.
Enter: the Smarter Planet campaign. This campaign, which is now several years old, has helped IBM claw its way back into the innovation fold after years of being labelled the ‘Borg’. More importantly, it has helped IBM align itself with a forward-thinking vision of a better, almost utopian world – a position that resonates powerfully with consumers.
The end result? IBM is ranked no.4 on Forbes Best Brands list with a brand value of more than $50 billion.
4. Samsung and Brand Extensions
Head over to Amazon and type-in “Samsung” into the search bar. You’ll be greeted with hundreds of thousands of results, from TVs and tablets to refrigerators and smart watches. Simply put, few companies have as wide a footprint across multiple verticals as Samsung. That Samsung has been able to not just compete, but dominate the competition across most verticals is a testament to Samsung’s brand resilience.
The Samsung branding strategy is built on leveraging and extending existing brands. This is why there are dozens of ‘Galaxy’ smartphone models. Each new Galaxy phone builds upon the success of earlier offerings. Samsung also extends its individual brand names across multiple domains. For example: the Galaxy Tab, Galaxy camera, and the Galaxy gear smartwatch.
The lesson for businesses: be aggressive, and don’t be afraid to carry over your current brand to new product offerings.