3 causes of brand inconsistency and how to mitigate them during a rebrand

3 causes of brand inconsistency and how to mitigate them during a rebrand


Eli Greenspan

Looking for gaps in brand consistency — and addressing them before they become a significant problem — is critical to your rebrand’s ultimate success. That’s because, at its heart, brand consistency is about fostering trust. A predictable and repeatable brand experience keeps your internal and external audiences engaged during transformational and pivotal change.

Delivering a consistent brand experience matters whether you’re a healthcare organization serving patients at a vulnerable moment, a consumer brand fighting for market share, or a utility company providing a public service. No matter your industry, your audience needs to know they’ll get what they expect from your brand.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for brand consistency to take a hit during a rebrand. But by exploring the root causes of breakdowns and taking proactive steps to address the resulting issues, you can give your audience what they need to stay loyal and connected.

Here’s a look at what tends to cause brand inconsistency and some practical tips on how to prevent it.

1. Lack of brand guidelines, training, and governance

Rolling out a rebrand across all your branded assets and touchpoints will not fall on the shoulders of the marketing team alone. You’ll need help from employees across the   organization to make your vision a reality.

Because of that, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll lose a degree of control as more employees, agency partners, and vendors begin to leverage the various components of your brand identity. The larger your organization — and the farther away your users are from the core brand team — the more likely it is for inconsistencies to crop up.

For example:

  • Employees in other regions or countries might interpret brand guidelines through the lens of their own cultural or aesthetic understanding. Although this may bring a unique and interesting flair to your organization’s branded assets, it can also cause users to question or doubt their authenticity.
  • Vendors without access to the right materials or equipment sometimes develop workaround solutions to producing branded assets. These tactics may result in a not-quite-right product that ultimately takes away from your brand’s market integrity.
  • When rebranding digital channels, it’s common to see inconsistencies in brand colors, fonts, shapes, icons, and other graphics.
  • Employees and other users often save digital assets (like Word or PowerPoint decks) to their personal computers and adapt/re-use them without double-checking that their application is correct.
  • Choosing photography and graphics can be challenging if team members only have written guidelines to refer to. Whether or not an image represents the brand can be subjective so it can be problematic if users are not drawing from a repository of approved images.
No one expects a pilot to fly a plane without a navigational system. Your employees need the right tools to do their jobs effectively, too.

How to best equip employees and external partners to bring your brand to life

The good news is you can prevent or correct common consistency gaps by making brand training and governance an early priority. Long before your brand is launched, be sure to:

  • Give employees the “why” behind your rebrand. This helps them embrace your organization’s strategic direction and become brand ambassadors and champions. It can also stop them from going rogue or shrugging off your brand guidelines as unimportant.
  • Create clear brand guidelines with specific instructions on how to correctly apply your brand. Consider developing a comprehensive brand book with resources like FAQ sheets, examples (the more the better), and templates to make it as easy as possible for team members and vendors to create accurate branded materials every time.
  • Set up a Brand Management System, or as we call it, a single source of truth, where all approved assets reside and are easily accessible
  • Set up a virtual help desk so employees know where to turn if they have questions about how to apply your brand in various spaces.
  • Establish ongoing brand governance. Determine who will be responsible for reviewing and approving branded assets, making decisions related to quality control, and managing your library of shareable templates.

Ongoing, proactive communication is essential. Most employees and external partners want to live up to your brand promise. But they can only do so if they know exactly what’s expected of them.

2. No access to collaborative brand management tools

No one expects a pilot to fly a plane without a navigational system. Nor can a hockey player play without a stick. Your employees need the right tools to do their jobs effectively, too. And when it comes to rolling out a rebrand — and managing that brand effectively over time — the right collaborative brand implementation tools are essential.

Although a sophisticated digital asset management system (DAM) is ideal, other types of collaborative platforms can do the job. The key is to create a single source of truth where employees can access your brand’s correct logos, colors, fonts, specifications, manufacturing guidelines, and other elements.

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We also recommend maintaining a library of easy-to-use templates and customizable resources to discourage employees from creating their own.

Again, be sure to communicate frequently to let employees know when there are new or updated resources available to them or embed this function into your automated brand management solution. Otherwise, they might use old or outdated items for months or years on end.

3. Insufficient planning and resources for converting branded

Once the leadership has determined that brand change is necessary, gathering information and creating plans as soon as possible will be important to ensuring your rebrand has all the resources and funding it needs.

It’s not always clear at the onset of the program how much time and resources your rebrand will take. But if the resources run short and/or your employees don’t understand the plan, you may see employees missing important details while converting assets, which will have serious ramifications (I.e., lower quality or otherwise inconsistent branded assets).

Rolling out an inconsistent brand comes with a hefty price tag of its own. It may not be immediately quantifiable, but brand inconsistency can prevent your organization from reaching the strategic business goals that led you to rebrand in the first place.

What you ultimately need is a centralized plan and budget that covers every need in every area across the organization. You can create such a plan by:

  • Taking a complete inventory of all your branded assets to understand your project’s full scope
  • Prioritizing which assets to convert immediately and which to transition over time
  • Identifying opportunities to reduce and rationalize redundant assets

It’s also important to consider the non-financial resources you’ll need to carry out your rebrand, such as time and work capacity. Rebranding can add a significant amount of extra work for your employees. An implementation partner like BrandActive can augment your internal team’s capabilities and help them stay on top of every critical detail.

Make brand consistency a priority during your rebrand and beyond

Maintaining a consistent brand experience will continue to be a challenge long after your rebrand is complete. But while you’ll never be “done” in this area, you can take steps now to ensure your organization fulfills its brand promise to your audience.

Take time to understand the root causes of brand inconsistency. Put clear, documented guidelines in place early in the rebranding process. And provide your team with the training and tools they’ll need to carry out your vision.

If you need help identifying and fixing brand consistency gaps in your rebrand, just reach out. We’d love to hear from you.