Controlling brand consistency is a struggle that many if not all brand and marketing managers face over the course of their working lives.

Keeping track of a global brand across a myriad of communication channels is key to maintaining its strength, which translates into customer acceptance and ultimately sales.

Brand consistency is vital to a business because it builds recognition which consumers use to evaluate their purchase decisions. Consistency also brings clarity which consumers trust.

When consumers trust your brand they become loyal. And what everyone wants is loyal customers.

But what do you do when you start to lose a grip of your brand? You take a hit when the levels and complexity of marketing activity exceeds the amount of control the business has over brand management.

There will be less coherence in the way your brand appears which leads to loss of clarity in the minds of your consumers about what you stand for, leading to lower sales and less return-on-investment in your brand communications.

So what can you do to improve brand management and therefore brand consistency?

1. Spot the symptoms

Erosion of brand consistency can occur slowly over a long period of time and takes a concerted effort to reverse its effects.

Think of a large oil tanker doing a 360° turn in the Thames. There is not a lot you can do in the short term. It may sound obvious, but the first step is to identify that it is happening.

Ineffectual brand management is commonly the problem and a brand audit can help to clarify the extent of the issue. This will help identify where and when your brand is inconsistent.

Are managers using the wrong type of logo because they can’t find the correct one? Are copywriters not aware of the tone of voice they should be using when creating ads?

Be aware of what you are doing wrong first.

2. Understand where brand inconsistencies are occurring and why

In most cases the problem will be a combination of staff not being aware of what they are doing, and the effects that their actions may have on the overall brand.

Think of all marketing communications as one part of an extended family. All should look the same, come from the same background and speak with same tone of voice.

Internal marketers and external third parties need the correct tools to allow them to communicate the brand in a consistent way.

It is all well and good to have a brand guidelines document which sets out what the brand stands for and how it should be represented, but if it is stored away in a brand manager’s desk or hidden on an FTP site, people just won't consult it.

They’ll 'guess' at which logo to use or what target audience they should aim their new ad at.

Once you know why and where your brand is not consistent you can work out strategically how to fix it and what tools you will need to achieve this.

3. Centralise brand management online

Your aim is to get everybody who is selling, representing or promoting your brand singing off the same hymn sheet.

Therefore you need to make your brand assets and most importantly your guidelines and positioning documents (the essential stories which make your brand different and unique) available in one place which everyone can access.

This will result in stronger brand management, all members of your team pulling in the same direction and increased brand consistency. You will see brand equity grow and lift you above your competitors.

To summarise

A lack of consistency can affect any brand at any stage of its life. The best way to avoid and/or rectify a brand consistency problem is to set up a system where everybody involved knows how the brand should be presented and has the tools at their disposal to do this.

As a final thought, please remember that brand consistency is built up over years not over months, just like brand equity. Consistent brands have been consistent for a long time.

Jens Lundgaard

Published 2 May, 2012 by Jens Lundgaard

Jens Lundgaard is Founder and CEO of Brandworkz and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Jens on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google Plus

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Comments (6)

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Jeremy Spiller

Jeremy Spiller, MD at Econsultancy Guest Access TRAININGSmall Business Multi-user

This reminds me of the early days of the web (cue Hovis music) when large brands' global offices spawned websites locally meaning differing look and feels, branding, functionality and so on.

After some years many then tried to co-ordinate these (and still are) and deal with all the issues involved.

Now the same is happening with social and it's complicated by granularity in that everyone now talks online, approved or otherwise and some degree of management and control is trying to be applied.

"Your aim is to get everybody who is selling, representing or promoting your brand singing off the same hymn sheet."

The problem is with some larger companies with thousands or tens of thousands of employees, this is challenging to say the least.

over 6 years ago


Own. Bought. Earned.


The overall description of brand management is spot on, but I would extend the article to cover the key elements marketers need to pay attention to. For selfish reasons, I added, link to another article written by us.

Another thing in my mind relates to consumer side of things. Brand perception is ultimately a choice of consumers. So what should one do when people start to see you in a new light? Product failure or other PR crisis can happen overnight. There marketers cannot stick with limiting rules but they need to engage into discussion with people. They must be honest and considerate while remembering they are representing a company.

Third comment relates to large organisations. Brand is often separate organisation to marketing. This means marketers and brand cops have their own internal fight ongoing. With better organisational planning these two functions could be integrated. Even better, bringing comms and customer care under the same umbrella could unleash a new kind of communication power to the organisation.


over 6 years ago


Lisa Perez

This article echoes our experience of rebranding. Having launched a new visual identity in August 2011, we’ve since had two brand reviews and intend to do them quarterly.

At the reviews, we can talk through what’s working and what needs changing. We also identify where we’re getting diffusion and solve the problem by making it easier for all employees to understand and utilise the correct brand elements.

We also work to create and maintain internal enthusiasm about the new branding. So far it’s all worked really well and we’ve had great customer response.

over 6 years ago

Jens Lundgaard

Jens Lundgaard, Director at Brandworkz

Thanks for your comments Jeremy. I agree this is a challenge for very large organisations. The best first step in my view is to centralise brand management online, creating one access point for the brand which can be used by all employees, wherever and whoever they are. Our client Jones Lang LaSalle, the global property management company, is going through this process right now. They are consolidating their brand and the management of it online. It is a highly decentralised business, but their ‘Brand Center’ is creating a sense of global community and is enabling local markets to speak with the same voice. It is a long process and needs a person or people internally to champion use of the system, but the benefits in brand consistency are significant.

over 6 years ago

Jens Lundgaard

Jens Lundgaard, Director at Brandworkz

Thanks for the comment, Lisa. I think you are taking the right approach. A brand has to be nurtured if it is to build and grow. Monitoring quarterly is a great way to do this. It will keep the brand fresh and ensure you are driving it in the right direction. Good to hear you are seeing results already.

over 6 years ago


Denise Gabbard

Brand and reputation management are two vital aspects of running a successful business in today's business climate.

Information that took weeks to get to consumers previously can now spread like wildfire almost instantaneously. Businesses should be carefully monitoring their brand online and taking quick and decisive steps to repair any damage, deserved or not, to their brand and reputation.

over 6 years ago

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