Internal identity: Consistency vs. coherence?

Businesses with powerful external brands are often of the opinion that preserving that brand’s look and feel, in all environments, is essential to its integrity and success. I beg to differ. The requirements of a brand internally differ fairly dramatically from their requirements externally.

In the way that we wouldn’t choose an estate car to make a series of 5-minute drop offs in the City, as with a brand, internally we need a different sort of vehicle.

Externally, a brand competes with other brands. Under such competition, the need to retain a brand’s core attributes are fairly understandable – to encourage distinction, recognition and clarity.

Also, external communication is largely marketing-focused, so the brand doesn’t have to do too much work, focusing as it can on a narrow range of messages.

Internally, the only thing a brand competes with is itself, being used on a daily basis for far more than just marketing. It will be used to host and hold a range of wildly different communication with wildly different objectives, competing for air, wall and head, space.

Whereas consistency is needed externally, internally there is far more need for flexibility and range. We need something with enough flexibility not to become tired under the same eyes very quickly. And we need something with the range to host messages that are serious or fun, regular or sporadic, corporate or irreverent.

And broadly speaking, internally, your audience knows who the communication is from, so you don’t need to spend quite as much time reminding them.

That gives you license to play with the brand a little, to give you the range necessary for all your communication, without leaving your audience confused.

At blue goose we think the key is coherence, have we’ve applied this thought to a number of high profile internal brand projects.

Providing communication always feels part of the same family, there’s no reason to think we can’t make some adaptations to a powerful external brand to suit our purposes internally, and still not upset the brand police.