In Swedish the expression "röd tråd" (literally "red thread") is used to describe that something follows a theme. For instance, if a piece of text has a "red thread", it's written with a consistent though through out the text.
The expression originates from the Greek mythology where king Theseus found his way out of Minotaur's labyrinth by following a "red thread".
It could also be derived from that formerly a red thread were found twisted in some cordage belonging to the English Navy. In a figurative sense first used by Goethe in his work Wahlverwandschaften.
Is this used in the same way in English or is there another expression that is more commonly used?