We all understand the importance of brands being open, honest and consistent (or at least not contradictory). After all, it's so easy for people to find out the 'truth' nowadays, you don't want to be caught with your trousers down.
But what's easy for brands (in theory - obviously a lot haven't even got to this point yet, which is another story entirely), is not always quite so straightforward for the businesses that own them. Particularly if those businesses have a wide range of brands, in very different markets with very different audiences.
Case in point: Unilever. It has two brands that are often held up as perfect examples of great brand building, because they are very open, honest and consistent in what they say, and how they behave : Dove and Lynx/Axe.
The problem though, as Russell wrote about recently, is that whilst these two brand are brilliantly consistent, they are in danger of saying inconsistent things about Unilever. This is particularly true from the perspective of Dove, which has taken a stand against the very objectification of women that Lynx's seems to be embody.
Does this inconsistency matter? I don't know. I guess I have always felt a little uncomfortable about Lynx at a personal level (even whilst respecting the brand), so for me I would probably say yes...a bit. But I also recognise that a business like Unilever doesn't, and can't really operate with the corporate consistency of (say) an Innocent, where the company is the brand.
And you might even argue that Dove and Lynx should in fact be seen as separate 'businesses' that happen to be 'owned' by the same 'investor', and on that basis look at Unilever as one step removed. Plus, you obviously have to take the whole Lynx thing with a big pinch of ironic salt.
So back to the beginning: if you can find out everything about anything, what happens when enough people with a point of view start to join the dots between very different brands and the businesses that own them? How important is corporate consistency then?