Adding To The Noise

A critical view of new media, new technology and new marketing.

Visual Continuity: Is It Always A Good Strategy?

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Awhile ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of visual continuity. In “Visual Continuity in Print & Digital” I said “When designing creative executions, visual continuity is key – especially in today’s media cluttered world.” I still believe that is true, but sometimes change is good for a company as well.

In the post I talked about the Pepsi Refresh Project. Another example is Target. They have been very successful and they have kept the same red logo and target symbol on white backdrops for a long time. This is an equation for success and a great example of visual continuity. But this made me think of a question. Can a brand be successful without visual continuity?

The one brand that immediately came to mind is Burton Snowboards. The only consistency about Burton’s visual design has been its inconsistency. Since 1977 the company has had a lot of different logos. How many? They basically have totally redesigned their logos – yes multiple logos – every year. See the picture for a retrospective. In the early 1990s Burton Snowboard rarely used the same logo twice in their print ads.

Is this a smart move? A SAP case study on Burton describes the company’s success coming from how they are able to remain as nimble as their riders. The business is unique because they have professional athletes who drive the product development process and have a tremendous amount of input into the look, feel, and functionality of the product lines. They also take rider feedback to heart — whether the comments come from a pro rider, a customer email, or a random snowboarder the company president runs into on the mountain. Being a rider-driven company, the business has to be dynamic and adaptable.

Burton is playing in an ever changing snowboarding, surfing and skate culture that thrives on fads and trends. So I would say it is okay for their visually identity to change rapidly with the times. The other example is Jones Soda.

For years Jones Soda has had fans upload their photos to be voted on and possibly featured on the company’s ever changing soda labels. I uploaded a photo once, but never made it to the label. Have you ever send in a photo to a brand to be featured in their marketing? Can you think of another example of a successful brand that has thrived by consistently changing their visual identity?

Author: Keith A. Quesenberry

I'm a professor in the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University. For 17 years I was an advertising professional as an associate creative director and copywriter working on marketing campaigns for large International Fortune 500 companies to small regional businesses. Here I lead and develop multiple communications and marketing courses from traditional to social media. I pull from my professional experience, teach theory, and use interactive methods to inspire and help prepare future leaders in today's fast paced innovation driven business environment. I am also active in academic research. I have published journal articles, lead workshops and presented at academic conferences including AAA and AEJMC.

One thought on “Visual Continuity: Is It Always A Good Strategy?

  1. Pingback: snowboard company logos – Item 3 | Vector Magz | Free Download Vector Graphics

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