16 Top Mistakes And Lapses In Oversight That Can Ruin Brand Consistency

Successful branding involves a good deal of testing and iterating. However, once audiences are aware that it exists and are considering its products or services, too much variation in a brand’s overall look, feel and story can ruin a good thing.

Ensuring brand consistency seems easy enough, but marketers sometimes inadvertently create dissonance among the many elements that make up a brand. Here, members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest mistakes and lapses in oversight they’ve seen brands make that ruined their consistency and the resulting negative impacts. Read on to learn from the missteps of others and ensure that your branding remains consistent across the board.

1. Mistaking Uniformity For Consistency

Consistency does not mean that everything looks, sounds and acts the exact same, everywhere, all the time. It’s boring, and it creates stale communications and experiences. Great brand consistency happens when a brand has the freedom to act dynamically and adapt in relevant ways that stay true to its strategic foundation. – Howard Breindel, DeSantis Breindel

2. Acting On A Whim

Watch out for whims. Brand dissonance can occur when marketers go off-script—for instance, by following encouragement from clients or leadership to post on social media platforms before a content strategy and programming plan are in place. – Patrick Nycz, NewPoint Marketing

3. Following Trends Outside Your Space Of Expertise

Don’t jump on a trend that isn’t within your space of expertise. That inauthenticity will jump out to your consumers, and once you cross that line, it’s hard to reverse the impact it had on a savvy audience. – Steph Lund, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

4. Trying To Be Funny In The Wrong Context

Too often, we see brands forget their core values, attempt to be funny and overshoot the cultural context in which the brand lives. This not only creates brand inconsistencies but can also leave a lasting, negative taste in the audience’s mouth. A brand is only funny when the audience is in on the joke—focusing on the brand’s goals, values and audience ensures that humor is timely and well-received. – Christian Lachel, BRC Imagination Arts


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5. Siloing Social Channel Owners And Long-Term Strategists

Brands need to be cautious with social media. The disconnect between those who own the social channel and those who hold the keys to the long-term brand strategy can be vast. That chasm can lead to premature commentary on controversial issues that depart from the brand’s tone and voice, leaving stakeholders confused about what they see, hear and experience in some channels versus social media. – Jason Cieslak, Siegel+Gale

6. Saying One Thing Publicly And Behaving Otherwise Internally

The biggest mistake brands make in consistency is saying one thing publicly but behaving differently when it comes to internal operations. Consider how many companies tout their commitment to customer service yet have policies that are distinctly not customer-focused. Building a brand that is consistent requires creating company policies and procedures that match what is promoted. – Karen Leland, Sterling Marketing Group

7. Not Rewarding Your Stated Core Values

The biggest disconnect in branding happens when a company states one set of core values but rewards another. For example, a company stakes its reputation on pristine quality, but rewards the sales department based on wholesale volume. Creating alignment in marketing is the first step in brand consistency, but to achieve authenticity, the unifying principle has to be interwoven throughout the enterprise. – Phillip Davis, Tungsten Branding

8. Having Separate Internal Team Efforts Or Too Many Vendors

Having consistency in brand messaging is hard when you have separate team efforts from within or too many vendors. It gets even more difficult when brands spend too much time watching and chasing competitors instead of focusing on the long-term goals that are important for their own business. – Yan Zhang, XYZ Advantage

9. Offending Core Audiences When Trying To Appeal To A New One

A brand may abandon its target audience in an attempt to appeal to a new, younger audience. Because such messaging can be so polarizing, it actually offends its core customers, and those people start to chatter negatively online about the brand. This chatter becomes permanent and provides a muster point for negativity. The worst part is that the brand paid and expended resources to do this. – Matthew Earle, Reputation.ca Ltd

10. Trying To Be ‘Cool’ When It Doesn’t Fit The Brand Story

Going after the latest “cool” marketing collateral or channel without thinking through how that fits the story of the brand is a huge mistake, and I see examples of that often. For example, the massive audience on TikTok is accustomed to short, entertaining videos that can be used to pique their interest in a brand, but some brands are better off not advertising there because their customers are not there. – Jayant Chaudhary, JLB USA

11. Chasing CPA Or ROAS Goals At The Expense Of Brand Identity

In e-commerce, marketers are constantly chasing cost-per-acquisition or return-on-ad-spend goals, which can eventually lead to discount-heavy calls to action and away from the brand identity—the core features and benefits of the brand that made it interesting in the first place. Once this cycle starts, it can cause customers to interpret the brand as a discount label, pushing them to wait until the next discount to make a purchase. – Justin Buckley, ATTN Agency

12. Being Inconsistent With Social Citations

The most common branding mistake we see as a digital marketing company is inconsistency in social citations. This involves everything—how business names are referenced, how mailing addresses are formatted, how hashtags are used on social media and more. Having such inconsistencies can negatively impact Google’s ability to associate valuable signals referencing your website and social profiles. – David Wurst, WebCitz, LLC

13. Not Focusing On The UX Or Consistency Of Brand Visuals

The No. 1 mistake marketers make that completely ruins brand consistency is lacking focus on the user experience and consistency of the brand visuals. Often, there is a cohesive element missing: the confluence of various team members working on their own views of what the brand strategy should be. – Aleksandar Sasha Jovicic, Executive Digital

14. Giving Up On A Branding Campaign Too Soon

Branding does not happen overnight. A brand is not a sales event; it is instead a promise about what to expect from you or your product. Think about the old game where, when you name a product, a company comes to mind—for example, “facial tissue” equals Kleenex, “search engine” equals Google and so on. The company’s name is synonymous with the product. Abandoning a branding campaign too early can result in lost opportunities to build the brand. – Tim Crouch, The Crouch Group, Inc.

15. Confusing Branding With A Multifaceted Mission Statement

We frequently see brands trying to communicate too many messages at once, biting off more than they can effectively deliver on. We believe that distilling messaging down into its simplest form is the most powerful form of marketing and that brands with a stronger focus are more powerful. – James Dressing, KLIK

16. Investing Outwardly But Not Inwardly

Employees are a brand’s most significant assets and untapped, natural brand ambassadors. Having happy, vocal employees is priceless. However, when loyal consumers learn that their favorite brand’s internal communications and culture are toxic or unevolved, then the disconnect is strong and hard to correct. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2022/02/16/16-top-mistakes-and-lapses-in-oversight-that-can-ruin-brand-consistency/

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