differentiation vs consistency

New Year, another new brief. As a designer the moment arrives where you put pencil to paper, switch on the Mac and begin to create a new design which must maintain an element of consistency” but also “do something different”. Making best use of the readily available ‘toolkit’ of colours, shapes, images, font-styles and associated formatting options requires consideration, craftsmanship, and a ‘creative eye’, but this is only part of today’s creative process and the journey towards creating innovative designs that engage people and inspire them to buy.

The ‘intangibles’

Often it is a designer’s appreciation of the ‘intangibles’ (values, story, provenance, experience, tone of voice, etc…) and their tacit ability to visually bring these to life – it’s in the fusion of thinking and doing where the creative magic increasingly lies. A designer must be aware of the rules of the game (brand guidelines), understand what is flexible (differentiation) and what isn’t (consistency), identifying what’s right creatively for the master brand.

cups consistency vs differentiation

Meeting customer expectations

If packaging is to be effective and influence people’s purchase decisions, it must be noticeable, relevant and engaging – from brand to brand this often requires a very different creative response. Take Illy packaging, for example – the consistent master brand, physical pack format and colour cues are synonymous with professional quality, café culture and a coffee consumption experience that can be recreated at home. In contrast, Taylors of Harrogate coffee packaging showcases far greater visual diversity across the range, with each product’s design optimised to capture a mood, flavour territory or consumption occasion to tempt the experimental coffee consumer. One product, but two very different creative responses, and yet the same design principles have been applied to creating packaging that stands out in its competitive setting, but epitomises the values of the master brand and meets consumer expectations.

Dr Oetker homebaking

Thinking and Doing

The combination of ‘thinking and doing’ guided the creative process for DECIDE. in designing memorable visual identity for Dr. Oetker home baking range. The range of products together under a single consistent colour are clearly differentiated from competitors to deliver stronger shelf stand out – further enhanced by the mouth-watering appetite appeal of on pack photography. This along with with the unique ribbon profile, which can flex and adapt from pack to pack and between touch-points (online and in-store), symbolises the high quality of Dr. Oetker products, and the company’s commitment to enabling  Even Better Baking.

Differentiation vs Consistency

In 2015 amid the ever-changing consumer landscape, where everything is different, but feels the same – and where people interact with brands at many times in different environments, the creative challenge in differentiating your product whilst staying true to the master brand, is vital to creating a successful, ‘decision-ready’ brand.

Image (Cups- Shutterstock.com), Image (Baking range- Created by DECIDE. for DrOetker),


Posted by

Mac Patterson


14th January 2015
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