Brand management was once a relatively small-scale venture that accounted for little more than a visible logo and a window display. This, and the fact that competition was generally limited to businesses within walking distance, meant not only that competitive brand advantage was easier to achieve, but also that it rarely took entire teams to make it happen.
In this sense, largely tech-led requirements for a more dedicated focus on brand management and the teams that make it possible are about the best news that you as a brand manager could’ve hoped for. Heck, you wouldn’t have a job without it! Unfortunately, it’s also the most significant challenge that you face, and it’s only becoming more so as the complications of creating an effective brand evolve.
However, you might be surprised to learn that making ripples in this age of online trade and global expansion doesn’t mean turning your back on the branding that’s come before. Instead, effective branding is now all about building on what we know works, and making sure that it adapts to challenges as they arise. In this article, we’re going to help you understand the true evolution of brand management by considering both the lessons of the past and the visions you can expect in the future.
Suggested reading: One thing that’s remained consistently important throughout the history of brand management is… consistency! Ensure that your brand consistency is on track with our Brand Consistency Toolkit.
Even when business landscapes were much sparser, brand identity was essential to standing out. Just think of long-standing brands like McDonald’s, which has used its iconic ‘M’ logo since 1968. Now, modern business, and the fact that it’s been done by many, many brands before, means you’re going to need more than a one-letter logo to achieve the same recognition. In fact, major shifts in how brand identity is formed mean that you have way more brand elements to make room for, including logos across platforms, both physical and online typography, and even brand content like video, social campaigns, and more.
All of this has especially led to the evolution of brand management that prioritises two prime factors of identity, which are:
- Individuality: Individuality has always been essential, especially in solidifying brand recognition, but it used to be way easier to achieve. Now, oversaturated markets mean that true, lasting individuality requires comprehensive brand understanding, and constant management to guarantee that any unique ideas you have are really as effective as they can be. It’s all well and good to come up with branding strategies that sound genius within your own teams but fall short when actually cast out into the world. The building of a truly individual and long-standing brand identity is all about the integration of factors like brand insights and showcases to ensure you’re setting your brand up for success.
- Consistency: The need for consistency across all modern brand channels (e.g. website, social media, physical branding, etc.) poses a significant challenge. Still, it’s more important than ever to keep otherwise complex brand journeys running smoothly with a brand consumers can trust. Brand guidelines that clearly outline branding expectations and platform-specificities are a crucial element of this, but capabilities like simplified access to all assets and approval workflows keep your consistency, well, consistent! And, they’re all made possible with the implementation of the right software.
Creative back-of-house processes have always been the touchstone of branding done well, with creatively innovative workplaces able to foster the happiest, most inspired teams. Moves towards collaborative work environments especially help to achieve individual branding focuses built to stand out. In turn, that makes it easier to ensure iconic and enjoyable brand experiences that build the best relationships with your consumers. The question is, how exactly can you ensure creativity buys you a competitive edge when every other company is also busy becoming the next Picasso?
- Flexible structures: Stringent guidelines that leave no creative scope for teams quickly limit creative output and enjoyability. Shifts like an expansion or merger especially require a more flexible focus, achieved with the help of BMS which provides easily editable asset templates and brand guidelines that leave space for everyone, and evolve right alongside creative requirements.
- Feedback pathways: Collaboration is great for creativity, and opening up your branding focuses using feedback pathways that send information back and forth is the best way to ensure it. Certainly, ongoing, accessible feedback, and the ability to share ideas/suggestions will help to get those creative juices flowing. Again, software that brings even long-distance or remote teams into the fold for full visibility over brand management processes in their entirety is the best way to achieve that.
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Ways of working
Way back when, manual processes and a one-person approach were all it took to get branding right. While the tasks involved in effective brand management might be largely the same (e.g. iconic advertising, recognisable logo creation, typography, etc.), the ways of working within those expectations have changed a great deal — and for the better! Now, automated ways of working that are easily scalable to branding changes, iterations, and expectations are essential.
- Centralised platforms: Long gone are the days when brand management was about just one logo iteration and typography choice. In fact, brand assets like these have grown at such a fast rate that even now-large brand management teams can’t realistically manage everything alone. Digital asset management (DAM) systems that centralise even far-reaching brand elements within a platform that’s easily accessible for every team member with an internet connection has played a major part in offering that support. Improved metadata management that enables shareability and adaptable search functions have especially been key in getting branding workflows in order.
- Optimised processes: You probably scrapped manual processes a while ago, but the smooth running of even cross-platform focuses requires you to go one step further with tools that not only centralise like DAMs, but that also ensure the right assets are always to hand and easily amenable with tools like web-to-publish templates, reporting and analysis, etc. Solutions that marry the cruciality of a DAM with the benefits and processes of BMS are the most helpful way of achieving this level of optimisation for the here and now, AND long-term future.
A focus on local business in the past still teaches us crucial lessons about loyalty, but modern success means achieving that same intimacy on a much wider scale. Easy enough, right? Alright, perhaps not, but things aren’t as dire as they seem when you consider that, for all of its challenges, branding outreach makes it easier to expand audiences and gain access to the best possible talent.
- Globalisation: Global operations are now a given for any brand looking to expand and globalisation done well means overcoming hurdles including language barriers, time differences and, where global teams are concerned, issues with access to brand materials in the first place — software can help here, BMS with in-built capabilities like translation solutions, multilingual capabilities for your assets, and built-in workflow processes that take time out of the equation.
- Social media: A chinwag with your regulars was the best way to improve brand perception in the pre-internet days, but getting your brand out there now means getting on top of social media. Far from being just another box to tick, a competitive and visible social media presence that appeals to your target audience relies on a dedicated understanding and striving towards the different ways these platforms can improve brand perception. This is made possible by digital approaches like reports and analyses to help you see what’s working on your socials, as well as adaptable brand guidelines that help you easily evolve social branding with these insights in mind.
Suggested reading: With all the possible channels of communication out there, it can seem impossible to keep track of how people feel about your brand. Our blog — How to Control Your Brand Perception Online and Offline — will show you how.
Keep brand management evolving
The lessons of branding past still have a lot to teach us. Really, the fundamentals of great branding (individuality, consistency, loyalty, etc.) should still be your biggest priorities. What has changed is the way brands can best achieve them and the scale at which they need to be performed. If there’s one other thing that, ironically, is going to remain consistent in brand management, it’s that evolution is an ongoing process.
That’s why brand managers looking to stay on top should invest in Brand Management Software BMS that not only helps them to meet existing challenges, but does so with adaptability and constant improvements in mind. This is best achieved by combining both DAM and BMS for a comprehensive, adaptable, and EVOLVING branding oversight. We here at Brandworkz see this through with capabilities like formattable brand guidelines and web-to-publish templates. What’s more, our demo provides you with an in-the-moment look at how all of this can take your brand into the future at last!