Coherence, Not Consistency

Brands are built through coherence.  They are built through the sum of many parts that fit together but do not duplicate or needlessly repeat each other.

McDonald’s tells different stories to different audiences.  Together all of those individual stories add up into a large narrative of the brand.  They call this “brand journalism” at McDonald’s. It is coherent, not repetitive and not contradictory.  And that is very very large part of the success of McDonald’s for the past 7 years.  If they had stuck to the advice of consistency they’d be a niche brand.  Today they are a mass brand, telling many relevant stories.

One of the most consistently repeated myths of branding is the need for consistency.

“A rose is a rose is a rose” Gertrude Stein

From #19: The Law Of Consistency:  “Limitation combined with consistency (over decades not years) is what builds a brand” Al Ries and Laura Ries

Could you imagine Steve Jobs telling everyone at Apple: “our brand is going to same the same thing for the next 2 decades even as we move away from the iMac and introduce the iPhone and iPad.  Technology is dynamic.  Business is dynamic.  People change.  But we’ll just say the same thing over and over and over again.” 

A simple solution is that the next time you see the word consistency, think coherency instead.

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