Punctuation or Consistency in Branding?

Punctuation or Consistency in Branding?

As I sat through a very interesting talk by Aardman Animation, the guys who produce such classics as Wallace and Grommit, it got me thinking. As the lead directors talked their way through the painstaking process of creating multiple formats of the award winning HD, 3D, 2D The Pirates: Band of Misfits it was the creative process and story-boarding of the most impactful 3D moments that made me think about punctuation.

How it works in a 3D movie is that after the initial wow factor of watching in 3D an audience gets so used to the effects that they become almost unnoticed. What directors then do is to insert an exagerated 3D moment, in this case a virtual sword coming out of the screen and deep into the audience, or the bow of the ship projecting over the front few rows of seats in the cinema. This wow factor jolts the audience into remembering they are in a 3D journey and they become engaged and alert again.

We see punctuation, defined as “to break into or interrupt at intervals”, in writing to make a significant point, on television in the form of advertisement breaks and in many other walks of life. But in marketing plans and campaigns we have been taught over the years to 'stay on brand' and keep within tightly defined colour, shape, tone and style boundaries as part of what we call brand guidelines.

But is this always a good idea? If we take to heart the effectiveness of punctuation in other forms of communication then surely there is a place for breaking the status quo and challenging the norm? Perhaps in a carefully scheduled programme of marketing activity instead of delivering exactly what is expected, and to be honest unless it's creative genius it's likely to be predirectable and bland, we could intersperse some exciting punctuation…. something out of the norm… outside of brand guidelines… a wow or shock factor that rocks the boat, stops and awakens the target audience and makes them think “I wouldn't have expected that”?

Could this be one reason why Mr Branson's PR stunts have surprised and engaged so effectively? If you had to punctuate your marketing today, what would YOU do?