Brand cut through! The buzz word that means everything in an overcrowded market

October 2, 2018


Not all brands get consistency right. But those that do, really get it right. They put it front and centre of their business strategy and never look away. 

McDonalds doesn’t have the best food by a longshot. And it’s not even the most price-competitive in all markets. But it’s the most consistent restaurant experience on the planet. Order french fries in Shanghai and they are probably indistinguishable from those you order in Sydney.

But consistency isn’t just about the product. Consistency is in the colours you use and the words you use and the way your people dress, and many other things besides.

How can you achieve brand consistency?

Start with your visual identity. Do you even have a visual identity? Then your messaging. Do you have key messages? Then your values. What are they? Do your employees know them?

This leads to behavioural consistency. From receptionists to sales reps to call centres, do your people speak with a unified voice? A brand voice? Do you have scripts? Do’s and dont’s? Do you have a clear vision of the overall impression you want to leave through all customer interactions?

3 reasons brand consistency is important


Hurricane or vacuum?

But what good does a consistent brand do you if you can’t get noticed?

We’re bombarded with 4,000 messages a day, and it’s on the increase! Aren’t you just a raindrop in a hurricane?

Not if you know your customers, know your competitors and construct your brand in a way that will differentiate it from competitors.

I’m shocked how many brands operate as if in a vacuum. A lot of businesses will design their brand conceptually without first considering who their competitors are or could be.

Some business gurus preach following your own path no matter what, rather than focusing on what others are doing. Isn’t that what Apple did?

That’s true, but they were overshadowed by Microsoft for their first couple decades and nearly went bankrupt on more than one occasion. Amazon is a similar story. And if you have the stomach and balance sheet to ignore competitors and stakeholders while innovating your way to profitability, more power to you.

But if not you need to keep your eyes open, study the competition, chart trends, solicit feedback.

4,000 ads a day, or more!


Owning your Colour

If you’re a big bank you don’t have as much competition as in other sectors. But since many offer basically the same services it can be harder to differentiate. One clear way to do this is colour.

ANZ is the only one of the big four to have blue in its logo. So we say ANZ owns blue. Commonwealth is yellow and black. NAB is red and black. Westpac is red, but NAB also has red, along with black. Commonwealth also has black, along with yellow.

So colour wise I’d say ANZ wins on differentiation, or cut-through.

Another way to cut-through is through your messaging. NAB did this with a controversial campaign that declared, “We’re breaking up with the other banks.”

Concurrent with the Royal Commission investigating the financial industry, NAB decided to take a provocative competitive position.

Whether they are about ‘more than money’ as their tagline asserts is for the market to decide. But cut-through based on spurious claims will usually backfire. The short-term attention is not worth it. For traction there has to be substance behind the message.

Owning your colour


What is your business doing across all your touchpoints to differentiate your brand?

How do you grade yourself on:

Visual identity?

Verbal messaging?

Consistency in your employee behaviour?

And if you need help, engage a specialist that understands your industry and shares your brand values. It’s a long term investment that pays healthy dividends.

Picture of Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor

MD & Head of Strategy and Research

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