Balancing Brand Consistency and Creativity: Insights from INBOUND23's Finest
In a world overflowing with choices, one distinguishing factor can elevate a company above the clamor: unwavering brand consistency.
Picture this: An email lands in your inbox from a company you’ve never engaged with before, yet the moment your eyes lock onto their email signature and banner, you instantly recognize the brand. That logo, those colors, the font, and the tagline - it’s akin to rediscovering an old friend in a bustling crowd.
That's the influence of brand consistency. 🙌
In today's digital landscape, where information races at breakneck speed, the establishment and nurturing of brand recognition and loyalty take center stage. Enter Opensense, a platform that effortlessly strikes the delicate balance between empowering your team's creative expression while upholding the sanctity of your brand identity. With a simple click in your company emails, every team member becomes a formidable brand advocate. It's a resounding win-win for all.
But we wondered how other brands and their leadership approach this topic. So we decided to ask them.
We had the honor of chatting with some of the brightest minds in marketing HubSpot’s Inbound23 Conference this year and asked them this very question:
"How do you sustain brand consistency while fostering innovation and creativity in your marketing strategies?"
Check out what they had to say.
Ashley Faus, Director of Integrated Product Marketing at Atlassian
Make sure that everyone is aligned on the mission. You can try to police voice and tone and visual style, but if everyone understands and agrees on the goals, audience, and how your brand serves both, you'll have decent guardrails for experimentation.
Daniel Murray, Founder at The Marketing Millennials
Your core values and core messaging should remain consistent. However, everything else needs to be tested. You need have a culture of experimentation and testing. If you don’t agree on things, the default should always be let’s test it.
Masami Middleton, Chief Marketing Officer at CallRail
At CallRail, we've maintained brand consistency through clear definition of our company vision and mission. Our marketing team thinks about them regularly and deeply. You'll see themes from our vision and mission (e.g., marketing with confidence, more leads, better customers) reverberate throughout our marketing strategies and campaigns which drives consistency.
Oji Udezue, Chief Product Officer at Typeform
Brand consistency and creativity or innovation are not mutually exclusive! In fact, we establish brand guidelines (tone, voice, visuals) specifically so we can create principles that allow really aligned but often wild riffing - remixing with a strong thread of velocity and a center. In practice, to make sure teams are thinking creatively and being bold—we try to do regular creative training because it’s very easy to be bet at the wrong balance - constricted or unfettered. We’re also introducing tools (like Writer AI) that let us monitor and maintain brand voice when people are writing on behalf of Typeform.
Christina Garnett, Principal Marketing Manager at HubSpot
To maintain brand consistency while encouraging creativity, set clear flexible boundaries within your brand guidelines, allowing room for innovation without deviating from your style guide. These defined parameters strike a balance between brand safety and creative freedom.
Jen Spencer, Chief Executive Officer at SmartBug Media
Provide creative freedom within boundaries! We allow for experimentation and innovative thinking but within the constraints of our brand's values and messaging. It's important to provide a space where creativity can thrive without going off-brand.
Katie Penner, Head of Sender Relations at Sendoso
When it comes to maintaining brand consistency while encouraging creativity and innovation, think of marketers as artists. Brand consistency and brand guidelines are the paint colors they have in their arsenal. They can create lots of different beautiful art with those colors but it all remains true to their style.
Jodi Cerretani, VP of Revenue Marketing at RollWorks
In B2B marketing, it's a delicate dance between maintaining brand consistency and nurturing innovation. To succeed, we create clear brand guidelines that serve as our north star, defining our mission, voice, and visual identity. We then empower our teams to unleash their creativity within these boundaries, encouraging fresh ideas that align with our brand's core values.
Kelly Sarabyn, Platform Ecosystem Advocate at HubSpot
Writing a core brand story that identifies the fundamental values, personality, and tone of your brand is key to maintaining brand consistency over time. Everyone at the organization should be familiar with this document. Culturally, you should encourage marketers to experiment with innovative strategies as long as their campaigns align with those core values. Like individual people, brands can be complex in their personality and voice and change over time. As long as their campaigns stay aligned with the fundamentals of the brand identity, those innovations can be fresh and compelling to audiences.
Chelsey Puckett, Digital Marketing Manager at Neurolens
We keep it simple! The core components of our brand are always the framework. From there we keep it fresh by not being afraid to try new things and incorporate trends. All of our components go together and share a common thread, but none match or duplicate the other; we're consistent but surprising, and that's lent itself to great brand recognition and great engagement!
Devin Bramhall, Marketing Advisor and Agency Growth Strategist at Devine Consulting
Expand your brand guidelines to focus more on vision, mission, values and the brand ethos. Fonts and colors are helpful tools when you execute marketing campaigns, but vision and purpose offer a sandbox for your team to play in.
Robert Jones, Creative Lead at RevPartners
Maintaining brand consistency = consistently adapting to your customers needs, feedback, and journey. Doing so requires creative agility (the ability to reprioritize initiatives and execute). Brand is about being timely or timeless. If you don't have a timeless brand, your element of consistency will be more rooted in gathering feedback and learning your customers and their journey on a deeper level. Until you're timeless, you need to be timely, and that cannot be done without creative agility and tireless iteration for your customers.
Logan Lyles, Evangelism & Content Marketing at Teamwork
✅ Always encourage moving quickly to keep the focus on innovation & then provide tools that allow for the brand consistency while being creative (see numbers 2 & 3 for more on that)
✅ Keep an up-to-date internal/external brand guide available (our example is at teamwork.com/brand)
✅ Use tools that facilitate this balance. Having our Design team create templates in Canva that other team members can use strikes this balance really well! It keeps designers from getting bogged down in every single creative asset task while allowing various departments to self-serve with guidelines already shared from the Design team.
Dax Miller, Co-Founder/Head of Product at hapily
Our brand revolves around serving value with a smile. There are many beautiful way to invoke that magic, so everything we do is done hapily!
Nancy Harhut, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at HBT Marketing
Your brand is really your promise to your customers. And like a promise, it should be kept. But, how you call attention to it, and make it sought-after, is where the creativity and innovation come in. The promise doesn’t change; the ways you serve it up, make it engaging and keep it relevant do.
P.S. As a very special bonus, we have one more answer that will inspire you even more and answer the question: How does consistent brand experience across various channels contribute to brand recognition and loyalty? 🙌
AJ Wilcox, Founder of B2Linked
A riddle: What makes you more popular in high school? One friend telling 100 people you're cool? Or 100 friends telling someone you're cool? Consistent brand messaging across various channels reinforces the message that creates fans for your company in a way you just can't if you're relying on any one channel.
Let’s build loyalty together.
Consistency in branding isn't just about looks; it's about forging lasting bonds with your audience. These bonds turn acquaintances into devoted brand advocates.
In the fast-paced world of B2B SaaS, every interaction matters. A cohesive brand identity across all touchpoints isn't a choice; it's a strategic necessity.
Every email, social post, event swag, and webpage is a canvas for your brand's story. Together, they shape how prospects and customers see your company.
Need guidance on where to begin? We’re here to help.