From the Blog

How Consumer Pathway Constraints Can Free Your Brand

When thinking about consumer pathways from a design perspective, it’s especially important to consider how the very first piece is connected to the second, the third, and the fourth, all the way to the very last piece. The pathway really comes down to brand consistency. Whether you’re talking about the brand tone or the brand’s visual identity, it’s all about consistency and messaging that doesn’t contradict itself at any point. The way you make sure you don’t contradict yourself is by creating the rules that limit your potential choices.

You have this goal of the pathways, but along the way there are many different offramps and onramps. No matter what ramp you take, it needs to be aligned with all of the others. As far as design goes, that’s the most important part of the pathway. It helps you maintain a sense of continuity by giving you a series of checks and balances you can refer to. You can’t shoehorn things in because they stick out like sore thumbs. Maybe you have a brand based in green and yellow, but you love how something looks in purple. You can’t really do purple, but if you look at the consumer pathways you do have, you can probably find a way to engineer it to your brand, find out how it slots in between these things, and just make it work better overall.

Sometimes people feel constrained by the pathways, but I feel they’re actually quite flexible if you go about it the right way. Not flexible in the sense that it’s arbitrary, but flexible in the sense that if you develop them with real information and real purpose, and keep your brand in mind at all times, you can make changes and implement new things that will help you grow. Take Jack White as an example of how constraints lead to success. As part of The White Stripes, he followed the rule of three: voice, guitar and drums as the only instruments, red, black and white as the only colors. While these rules may seem limiting to some, these constraints actually freed Jack’s mind to focus on other things, resulting in greater creative results.

You may have a really cool design idea, but does it align with the rest of your pathways? Does it really communicate your message? If you do have that really cool idea, it may work, but you have to make sure that every sequential piece after that lines up. It needs to fit together just right. It can’t be hodgepodged together – each thing has to be a custom lock-in with the piece before it. It has to have a tangible connection to the preceding piece, and it has to have significant relevant information for the consumer at each and every phase. Nothing is a placeholder, and nothing is taken straight from another campaign, because it will not work.

There’s an infinite amount of options to choose from, which can paralyze business owners when they need to make marketing decisions. By establishing well-researched pathways you create the rules that limit your choices, which can ultimately lead to limitless success.