Everyone who’s working in marketing or advertising has had to deal with the dreaded brand nazis at some stage. Companies (and sadly people) for whom absolute uniformity  and consistency is paramount. Massive brand guidelines divided every possible page permutation into minuscule grids with rules dictating that the headline must appear 23.6mm from the left edge and 51.6mm from the top (yes I have experienced brands that were that specific).

To them “Brand” was a physical thing. The more consistent and controlled the appearance of their brand the better. Controlling physical appearance was somehow supposed to enable a company to control people’s perception of a brand.

Things have changed and the physical evidence is all around: Google have constant fun with their name, changing its appearance to suit different events and holiday seasons. In Australia Telstra introduced a whole range of colours for their brand. This summer Coca-Cola brought out a range of different coloured cans.

Finally companies have realised that it is how people experience a brand that delivers consistency, not how strictly you control the physical appearance of your logo and promotional materials.

Experience, not appearance, is the driving factor

In international research done in the UK, US, China and Australia by Jack Morton Worldwide 80%  agreed (60% strongly) that experience is the #1 factor in whether they purchase a product or service. Strangely no-one mentioned where an ad headline was positioned as a deciding factor.

It’s more important that people walking into different branches of a store get the same core experience (it might be friendly and relaxed service, it might be super-polite and discrete, it might be amazingly informative). This is what dictates how people perceive you and talk about you. Really nobody cares if your logo is always the same colour and in the same position.

A logo is the moon, not the sun

What does this mean for marketers? It doesn’t mean forgetting logos or abandoning consistency. It means your physical appearance should be a reflection of how people experience your brand. It’s not the sun (the source of all light and power), it’s the moon – reflected light that shows the way in the dark.

Get the experience right. Make the experience consistent and allow your physical brand to orbit that and reflect it.


Does anyone else have any great “Brand Nazi” experiences?

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