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Coherence Over Consistency
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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Five years ago, marketing consultant John Grant wrote, “the way to manage brands is coherence, not consistency.” Recently, 73% of marketers agreed that “the days of strategic consistency are over; it’s all about inspiration and engagement.” Perhaps we’re on to something.
According to the forward-thinking Grant, “the most interesting brands, like people, are authentic ... and can afford to be freer in their range of activities.” It’s true; maintaining consistency can often take on an appearance of rigid uniformity and a lack of freedom.
I just looked up the words “coherent” and “consistent” and they’re virtually synonyms. But to define them in a way that most differentiates the two, consistency speaks more to “steadfast adherence,” being fixed and firm, while coherence is more natural, harmonious, an “agreement of parts.” Recently I’ve been fighting for consistency, but perhaps that’s not the key… or at least not the right word for it.
Coherence seems to be the more relevant descriptor for what we are aiming for, especially in this era of storytelling and engagement. Good branding is an “agreement of parts.” Adhering a strict set of brand guidelines shouldn’t be the ideal; however, using more natural brand guidelines, allowing room for growth and inspiration, is more fitting.
Perhaps it’s not tactics we’re arguing, but linguistics. I wonder if 73% of marketers would also have agreed that “the days of strategic coherence are over.”

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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