If you’re a brand manager (and a bit arguable), you may have just read the title and thought, “Aren’t ALL elements of brand management critical?”
Well, yes and no. While every factor of brand management definitely has its need and purpose, there are a few key ones that deserve to be highlighted because they effectively encompass everything that brand management has to address to be effective.
We know you’re well-versed with the various elements of brand management (and we have plenty of other helpful blogs to use as reminders — as soon as you’re done with this one, of course.) But even the most seasoned of brand managers can find it tricky to point out which should be prioritised — so we’ve done the work for you. Let’s take a look.
Suggested reading: For an in-depth look into the important element of brand consistency, check out our whitepaper The Brand Consistency Toolkit.
1. Brand education
There’s no point in having a brand management strategy — or even a brand — if you can’t get your messaging across. Harsh, but true. With so many channels of communication and people to keep in mind, you must keep a firm but relaxed grip on how your teams understand and can continue to educate themselves on your brand.
Strategies to help
- Comprehensive brand guidelines: By being as specific as possible with your guidelines, you ensure your branding is kept consistent and that your people will always have a definitive guide to fall back on when they need help. Effective brand guidelines will also have examples of what a great brand asset (the materials that make up your brand) would look like, so that team members have a full idea of what to strive for.
- Web-to-publish templates: A practically foolproof way of ensuring guidelines and final products are all aligned is to provide templates. Most brand management software tools will offer web-to-publish template capabilities that allow you to amend them according to your desires while remaining consistent, even as your branding objectives may change. Web-to-publish templates are also extremely helpful in streamlining communication across different languages and regional markets – the elephant’s graveyards of many a brand identity.
2. Oversight of creation process
As talented as your rota of employees are sure to be, there is always the risk of processes not running as smoothly as they should or even not working at all due to bumps that could have easily been offset. With multiple teams working across various channels, it’s crucial to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks while still making sure that brand assets are at their best quality.
Strategies to help
- Accessible assets: A visible and accessible system is crucial to making everyone feel they have a stake in managing and creating your brand resources. Always be on the lookout to reduce the amount of resources that are wasted due to confusion. People constantly hunting around for where certain brand content is located, how to access it, or even being unaware that it existed in the first place creates confusion for everyone involved, and wastes time that could have been spent bettering your brand.
- End-to-end management: A DAM (Digital Asset Management) platform is key to keeping all of your brand assets centralised. DAMs are the go-to solution to enable access to stored on-brand files while supporting the creation of new material.
A centralised system also fosters a real sense of collaboration as everyone is included in the process. Given that level of comfort, they are more likely to submit new work and ideas to add to the pool of content so that your collection of valuable assets grows.
3. Access and permissions
Branding processes would not get very far without a consistent flow of approvals and permissions by all involved. After all, everyone from marketing to HR and finance needs access to at least some of each of these asset types — ‘some’ being the operative word.
What’s needed is the ability to curate who sees what and when to simplify choices and ensure no one uses the wrong thing.
Managing approval workflows is simpler using centralised tools, such as brand management software (BMS). Once the groundwork for consistency has been laid properly, it’s just a matter of maintaining it — BMS helps brand managers lay that groundwork.
Suddenly, different teams throughout the business can access the same ‘single source of truth’, vastly improving the efficiency of your branding teams. Simply put, people work a lot better when they know where everything is.
Strategies to help
- Manage and maintain your multi-access capabilities: Essentially, you ensure that everyone in a team can access your brand marketing resources. Most brand management tools do this through a user login and authentication process. Make sure you have people allocated to maintain this and make it as painless and quick as possible to allow access. You don’t want to be perceived as the ‘brand police.’
- Utilise your Digital Asset Management (DAM): As we’ve said, a DAM assists in centralising mass amounts of marketing content and allowing it to be managed and distributed effectively. Easily overlooked factors like making sure your materials are easy to upload and download are addressed by DAM, saving you the headache of checking for inane details in your process.
Suggested reading: Marketing goes hand-in-hand with brand management — but both still deserve unique approaches. Read our latest blog for more on that: How to Safely Reduce Marketing Cost and Budget.
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So, you’ve now locked everything down to be consistent and solid in your brand approach. With that being said, it’s just as vital to leave a healthy amount of room for your brand messaging to adapt if needed — whether that is to maintain relevance or to go for a change in messaging or overall style. Through factors like identity design, product design messaging, or experience, a brand’s adaptability plays a significant role in its long-term survival and success.
The key is to strike the right balance between consistency and creativity. Really, if the former is done right, then there’s more space for the latter to thrive.
Strategies to help
- Ensure up-to-date editing permissions: You need to allow certain team members to edit brand marketing resources at discretion. Doing so means that they have the flexibility to work without potentially messing up the process or being unable to edit effectively, while remaining confident that everything is within any industry regulations. A brand management software platform can allow for edits to be made on brand material without additional approvals so that creativity is encouraged while still ensuring consistency.
- Create and foster feedback flows: Staying aware of internal and external feedback on brand assets leaves space for those assets to be changed as and when needed, as well as keep everyone in the loop on what good amendments look like. Employ workflow capabilities that allow all team members to see what gets edited when and by who.
Getting feedback and insights is crucial to understanding what is going well and what can be done better. You can only do this if your reporting system is relevant and accessible.
Reporting and analysis help you see what impact you are having and where to improve and fine-tune your brand assets. It provides the definitive audit trail and analytics on brand and marketing activities.
Sharing insights also helps you demonstrate returns on your marketing output. Good reporting ensures your investment in marketing materials, templates and the system itself can be justified and appreciated.
Strategies to help
- Metadata is king: Metadata is critical to reporting as it provides the information you need to understand how your existing brand strategies are faring. Most DAM platforms will deliver insight on asset use and automated extraction of data so that processes are made all the more simpler and more digestible.
- Ensure those who need to know will know: You need to ensure your reports are accessible and viewable by anyone that needs them. For example, a software tool will allow for your reports to be shareable on an internal as well as external basis, and even be visualised in whatever format you feel would suit the data best.
6. Your marketing stack
Theoretically, the marketing stack is a collection of tools used to execute and optimise your marketing activities. These tools can range from SaaS platforms to the software bought by the last marketing director, social media tools, and various CRMs and analytics packages.
The more disparate your stack, the more interfaces you need to develop and the greater the likelihood of data silos being buried.
- Re-evaluate your tools: The first step is to take stock of how efficient or inefficient your marketing stack is. Look at how well tools interact with one another, how relevant they are to your brand management, and not to be ignored – how much they’re costing you. You will usually find interesting savings to be made due to overlapping solutions.
- Standardise, standardise, standardise: In trying to get your brand management strategy up to speed, it’s all too easy to end up using a different tool for every task. The result? Duplication of marketing resources, some resources being stored in the cloud and others on-prem, complicated processes, higher costs, and increased risk of inconsistent results.
Stick to only productive and insightful tools that actually help. The ideal scenario would be to choose one software that can incorporate all of the critical elements for you: one to rule them all, one to find them, one to bring them, and in the darkness bind them. But let’s not be precious about it.
Suggested reading: Our blog Is Your Marketing Stack Getting Out of Control? provides more insight into whether your MarTech stack may be getting too busy and how to solve it.
The importance of the right software
With all of these various yet important elements to consider in brand management, it’s easy to fall into the dilemma of attempting to address all of them without taking up tool after tool — we’ve just covered why that’s not the solution!
That’s where brand management software comes in. Brand management software addresses all of these critical (as well as the not-so-critical) elements while being optimal for integrating into any tech stack.
A quality brand asset management platform is a brand manager’s best friend. By centralising access and control over the moving pieces that define your brand, you get a simple system for managing brand assets that can retain brand consistency and creativity simultaneously.
The best brand management software is a prerequisite for any business that wants to improve its brand consistency and grow its business value.
So, take your first steps and sign up for a free trial to see what we can do for your business.