Playing with the Formula

Consistency. It’s a bit of an objective term, but one that’s oh so important.

Great brands are built to a formula. They’re consistent in delivering an authentic service experience. Fans (brand ambassadors) become conditioned to know what a brand stands for. The funny thing is, business owners often get bored of things before the customers do. Think about it…you experience something every day, generally your customers won’t so it stands to reason that you’ll get tired of the repetition before the market has even really got to know you.

I was in a cafe not long ago…it was quiet. This cafe usually has the music pumping. I felt self conscious. I felt like every word I said could be heard by those all around me. I didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I usually do because it didn’t match my expectation.

Another time I went to a restaurant and they decided to change the style of music up a bit. I liked the new stuff…but I’d have preferred it in a different restaurant. It wasn’t what I’d come to expect. I know I sound picky, but music is one of those things that make you feel at home. It gives you a sense of ease.

When we look back in history, Coca-Cola was probably the most classic example of why you shouldn’t bugger with the formula when they introduced New Coke in 1985. This wasn’t done out of boredom but out of fear of Pepsi gaining market share. But either way the change was almost disastrous to the point of Coca-Cola having to setup ‘help’ lines for people who just couldn’t handle it.

Another analogy is driving a bus from Melbourne to Sydney then one day deciding to take your passengers for a quick trip to Adelaide. Not sure they’d be impressed… Imagine if Arnotts changed the recipe of Barbecue Shapes!

But while my blog post was going to finish right there, I realised I must tell you the flip side…that is, if you stay the same the world will pass you by. Even worse brand fatigue can set in…meaning both you and your market are bored of you!

So what do you evolve and what don’t you change?

The non-negotiables are your core values and purpose. Being true to what you stand for is essential. Keep the service standard the same too, and introduce signatures that you know can be delivered day in day out.

Now when it comes to change, I prefer to use the word ‘evolution’ because this infers incremental change and maintaining relevance rather than just chopping and changing for the sake of it. Evolution is good. It’s a constant set of steps toward achieving your vision. Evolution shows you have purpose and will do what it takes to deliver on it.

A great brand, big or small, is about a strategic formula. Every part of the experience delivers a touchpoint that will build the total sum of your brand. If you want people talking about your brand with a common voice, then all of the experiences have to have a common thread. The secret is to stay true to who you are and the experience people have grown to love, but be ready to evolve with next big things that keep you and your market excited about the journey.


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