A brand’s relationship with its customers is becoming increasingly more personal and one-to-one as ever more digital channels and technology enter the marketing mix. Creating the right messaging and content to facilitate these conversations is an important part of the marketing process.
Multiple internal marketing teams are involved in both the creation and distribution of personalised content which can make it hard for brand managers to control how the brand is being represented, and most important of all, how consistently it is being used. Things can quickly get hectic when there aren’t good processes and tools in place to manage brand consistency.
The idea that brand consistency leads to positive customer experience and long-term loyalty is nothing new. Pick any of our most iconic names – Apple, Coke, McDonalds – and the commercial power of a constant brand is clear. Busy lives rely on easy, trusted choices. But it’s not always easy to achieve.
We asked three marketers to share their experiences of overcoming their brand management and brand consistency challenges.
Challenge: Control of brand consistency across marketing content
‘We didn’t even have a library system. Everything was everywhere – an historical backlog of transparencies, slides, images on hard drives, video content, past product brochures and all manner of material saved all over the place.’ Says Andy Minns, Marketing Communications Manager at Mitsubishi.
Recognise this scenario? It is how Andy Minns describes Mitsubishi’s content challenge. It is incredibly common in businesses and causes headaches for marketers who are trying to ensure that the right teams internally can get hold of the right content to use across their marketing. In Andy’s case, he is in charge of Mitsubishi’s dealer network and was struggling to keep them on-brand and consistent. Dealers would frequently choose the wrong fonts, colours and imagery – even on their websites – only because they couldn’t access what they needed quickly.
Andy put in place an online Marketing Portal where he could direct the dealers to grab the materials they needed. For him, the key was to make it easier for the dealers to use the Portal to find the content and materials they needed, than it would be to try and ‘home make’ their own. It has required encouragement and training to get the dealers on board and working in a different way, but results have been very encouraging.
‘Non-compliance of brand guidelines by dealers used to be one of our most serious issues,’ Andy reveals. ‘Brandworkz was part of the strategy to change this. Our brand is key, so we’ve made sure all the information people need is in the system and we’ve made a real push to ensure they comply. Dealer training includes when and how to use Brandworkz.’
Challenge: Global brand compliance
Dr. Martens is a global footwear brand with multiple franchisees and third party retailers. The brand sells worldwide, from Austria to Argentina, Hong Kong to Hungary, Nepal to New Zealand and right through the USA. Indeed, a full 79 per cent of sales come from beyond the UK, so getting marketers to use the right marketing content – whatever their location – is critical, particularly for a brand with their uniquely rebellious image.
Any marketer in charge of keeping partners and franchisees brand compliant will know how hard that is, especially when they are overseas. If the time zone is different from head office and teams need brand information, point of sale materials or marketing items instantly, they often turn to Google for materials or images – a dangerous game from a rights management and brand compliance standpoint!
Good internal processes and good technology have been Alex Cotton’s secret weapon. As Marketing Services Manager at Dr. Martens, she has put an online brand Hub in place; a centralized platform to share creative materials and campaigns with global marketing teams.
‘It doesn’t matter where you are in the world,’ she says, ‘you can access all the images you need. Because it’s so efficient we can literally let people find things for themselves – very easily and very quickly – and that saves us a lot of time.’
Of course Alex recognises that Hub cannot stop someone from sourcing imagery elsewhere, but it does mean she can go back and have a conversation with them about why using the Hub is more efficient and effective. It’s a process of bringing people on board and educating them that “If they find it on Hub, then it should be good to go. If they find it on Google, then chances are it’s not.” she says.
Challenge: Brand control right through sales channels to retail level
Transitions Optical is the manufacturer of adaptive lenses that automatically darken, shading the wearer’s eye as light brightens.
As a B2C brand, the business creates a lot of TV advertising, print and digital content designed to generate demand among prescription eyeglass wearers. However, generating consumer demand is only part of the marketing puzzle because Transitions Optical does not sell its lenses directly to consumers. They sell to lens suppliers who in turn supply them to local eyecare professionals and retail chains.
This sales and marketing structure can get tricky from a brand management and content distribution perspective. Chris King, Global Marketing Manager at Transitions Optical, is only too aware of this fact. “We needed a way to quickly and efficiently give the right people the right resources at just the right time. We’ve learned that if your customers want to push your message and you don’t give them the materials they need, they’ll simply create their own.”
An online Brand Hub has become Chris’s “indispensable tool.” “The suppliers, having been trained and equipped through the Transitions Hub, then work with hundreds or thousands of their downstream customers; passing on the appropriate training and other resources either in-person or utilizing the Hub’s file share and album features. This is critical to maintaining the consistency of our global brand and clarity of message downstream.” he says.
The process doesn’t need to be cumbersome either. Chris’s advice is that if you make it easy for the right person to find the right resource then they will use it at the right time. “When you give people the tools they need to do their jobs faster and more effectively you encourage people to embed the brand in their everyday jobs, and enable them to deliver the right brand experience consistently.”
Controlling brand management and maintaining brand consistency is a struggle that all marketing managers face. Brand consistency is vital to a business because it builds recognition which consumers use to evaluate their purchase decisions. Consistency also brings clarity which consumers trust. Making it easy for multiple internal teams to access content, campaigns, and most importantly, the ‘why’ of your brand easily is key to maintaining its strength on the outside, which translates into customer acceptance, a strong brand and ultimately sales.