Breaking Brand

By Lacey Picazo


We’re all very big fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad here at ZoCo Design, and we thought it might be fun to look at branding through the eyes of Walter “Heisenberg” White. Walter White is inarguably television’s most notorious producer of methamphetamine, and what sets him apart from his competition are his impeccably high quality standards. To him, It’s not just about cooking meth, it’s about being the best at it. And his clientele knows that they’re getting the best because Walter White has established a reputation for himself by cooking the purest crystal in the world, and by making his meth blue (his signature brand element—pun intended!).

So what is a brand?

A brand is a collection of perceptions about a product, service, experience or organization in the mind of the consumer. Every brand has a set of standards outlining ways to ensure brand consistency. For example, what colors may be used, what typography is appropriate, or how small an identifier or logo can be without sacrificing brand integrity.

Take Coca-Cola, for instance. Because their red color is specific to their brand, it’s immediately apparent when you see a Coke bottle on shelves that what you are looking at is clearly a product from the Coca-Cola Company. Their style is unique and instantly recognizable, which helps keep their brand consistent.

Can you imagine Coca-Cola being shipped and sold in purple bottles? It’s difficult to envision because it’s not consistent with the Coca-Cola brand. When branding guidelines are not followed, confusion and dilution of the brand follow.

Arguably the worst side-effect to inconsistent branding is how your company may be perceived by clients. If your company’s message isn’t clear and consistent, you could lose your clients’ trust, and with it brandy equity. You certainly don’t want clients questioning your company’s value and commitment.

Additionally, inconsistent branding can lead to the perception of poor quality. Consider each element to your brand part of a much larger puzzle; a puzzle that comes together to showcase what your company is all about. Every piece of that puzzle, from marketing materials, to email, to Facebook posts should be connected and branded accordingly. Without a cohesive brand aspect for each piece, the impression that you leave with your clients may not be the best or as strong as it could (and should!) be.

Consistent branding does not mean that each piece of your puzzle must look identical, but there should be standards in place to ensure your branding is consistent. That’s why brand guidelines exist in the first place, and why it’s a good idea for your company to have them. A direct mailer, website, business card, email, etc. should look like they belong to the same family or relate to each other in some fashion.

Be aware of your company’s brand guidelines and be sure you’re applying them accordingly. Successful branding programs unite employees, build loyalty with customers and establish an emotional connection beyond the typical product or service experience. So while you’re (hopefully) not cooking methamphetamine, it’s not a bad idea to adopt Walt’s high standards for excellence, and following your company’s guidelines is a good way to start.

Yeah, branding, b***h!

Lacey Picazo