In reality, none of these represent what your brand is. Your brand exists in only one place: between the ears of your customers and others who know you. Logos, ads, etc. are fundamentally prompts to aid them in tapping into the feelings and experiences they already have for you.
That said, it would seem to make sense that all of your external elements and communications be consistent to make it easier for your customers and prospects to tap into those feelings. Different looks and messages will send mixed signals and can lead to confusion about what our brand represents. Right?
Well, yes and no.
This notion of "being consistent" can be taken to an obsessive-compulsive extreme, and in some cases, can actually sabotage the effectiveness of a communication.
We can only use this font. We can only make visuals this big. We can never reverse the headline. We have to show the product the same way in every ad. And humor? Well, we never use it. For consistency sake, of course.
In other words, we can justifiably exclude a lot of really good ideas just because they don't "look like" what we've done before.
Allow me to offer up the idea that while consistency (and certainly brand identification) is important, the consistency we're talking about has more to do with the "emotional takeaway" of the communication than it does which typeface you use.
Do our messages leave our customers with the same feeling we want them to have about our brand? Or are we sacrificing engagement for the sake of corporate standards?
My recommendation is to let your Brand Vision be your guide. It's really the only filter that matters in terms of communicating the brand. Graphics standards, branding elements and previous communications, as used by many marketers, are often nothing more than crutches. The lowest common denominator of marketing communications ("If people know nothing else about us, at least they'll know the red stripe goes ON TOP OF the blue stripe on our borders!").
I realize the very thought of "loosening corporate standards" is enough to set some marketing directors' teeth on edge. But at the end of the day, we're after engagement, not compliance.
A marketer who really understands this is GEICO, the auto insurer. Take a look at its ads. Neurotic cavemen. Talking geckos. Burt Bacharach singing the story of a real GEICO customer. Stacks of money with cartoony eyes attached. One could interpret the company's advertising as being all over the map. But, really, all of its advertising dramatizes its Brand Vision in its full glory. It's about taking a mundane category like car insurance and dramatizing savings and service in an interesting way.
It's all about engagement, and GEICO is using multiple doors to invite the viewer in, and having them look forward to the next iteration of the campaign.
The bottom line? Concern yourself more with what your audience is taking away from the communications than with the elements used to tell the story. Instead of summarily rejecting ideas because they may not "fit" what has been done before, pass them through the Brand Vision filter with an open mind. Loosen up the rule book just a bit.
After all, it's hard to get outside the box if you won't allow yourself to get beyond the graphics standards manual.