You know marketing compliance is important, but it’s not easy. It requires a process for ensuring your organisation’s marketing content follows external or governmental regulations. Super sexy, right? Well no, but it is EXTREMELY important. Compliant marketing protects customers and ensures they are not misled or deceived — which, of course, protects your business too.
Practically, this process is much more granular. Thanks to the Internet, marketing channels are more diverse than ever. Your new social media post could end up displayed in any number of markets across the globe with different regulatory requirements. What’s more, more channels = more chances for something to go wrong, and everything online can be personalised and changed on an ongoing basis. Now while that does mean a greater chance for exposure, it also means a greater chance for regulatory risk.
All of this is why it’s vital to make marketing compliance as simple as possible. You can avoid the headache of retroactive tweaks, diffusion of public uproar and even legal action — if and only if you strive to align all your marketing materials with compliance best practice.
Suggested reading: Consistency is a big part of remaining compliant in marketing, we’ve built a comprehensive Brand Consistency Toolkit to help you stay on top of your brand.
Step 1: You need brand management software
No brand manager can be involved in every asset that’s released or updated, it’s just not possible. In our complicated and fast moving world, marketing materials need to be created, approved and published speedily — this itself threatens adherence to marketing compliance. You want to be the tortoise, but you have to be the hare.
So what do you and your team need to do in order to simplify marketing compliance? You need brand management software — or as we like to call it, the tortoise’s nitro-fuel. With the help of this kind of tech, your team will be empowered to pay due care and consider their input without compromising on efficiency or speed.
But how? Well…
Modern brand management software tools deliver templates that are invaluable to staying compliant in marketing. With this technology you can create (or audit existing) templates that lock in everything that you legally need included in a document. So, if your assets need to include a disclaimer every time, or a specific logo, or a tedious terms and conditions box then you can configure different templates to have them consistently included.
This way, you can rest easy knowing you and your team are producing content that is compliant with legal requirements, without the headache of checking, rechecking and checking again… and probably again.
Simon from the digital team doesn’t need to look at flyers — equally, Anita from copywriting probably doesn’t need to approve your latest artwork plan. Picture a pinball machine — where the ball is material and the flippers, bumpers and holes are different members of your team. Shooting the pinball aimlessly, hoping it hits the right flippers and gets approved in time is nonsense. You risk missing deadlines, confusing workflows and crucially, producing non compliant material. Auditing your approvals playfield allows you to ensure everything goes through the correct channels before it’s signed off, everytime.
When approvals are integrated into your brand management software then everyone knows where they need to be and when. Automated alerts remove the need for awkward and sheepish nudges, as you can rely on the software to nag the relevant people to do their part of the work. The technology protects your brand from compliance mishaps through allocation, reminders and historical tracking and prioritisation.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a ‘post it and forget it’ industry. Some industries even require that approvals of materials be kept for a certain amount of time. Meaning that, very quickly, materials can become outdated, incorrect, and non compliant — however, setting up reporting functions allow you to set auto updates for material reviews. You can ditch the convoluted headache of a calendar — phew! What’s more, with reporting you can see exactly who used or changed what, and when, on which channels. Especially helpful in case something goes wrong and you need to retrace everyone’s steps. Omniscience has never been so simple
Just in case your brand presence across your channels was becoming a little haphazard, then check out our blog on
👉Ensuring consistency across every channel👈
Step 2: Recognise industry-specific requirements
So, what does compliant brand management mean for businesses? Well, the answer is, it varies from business to business depending on their industry — bit of a cop out we’re sorry. Although, we do know which industries can take a softer approach to marketing compliance, and those that need to treat it as carefully as they would a rattlesnake that just did a 30 min spin in the tumble dryer.
The short answer? Regulated industries. As the industry itself becomes more regulated, so too will organisation’s marketing materials in those industries. Specifically, we’re talking about Insurance, Finance, Banking, Accounting, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Gambling and Food. So there’s quite a few, and probably more, but to keep this short — and hopefully interesting — let’s focus on the Finance industry.
Marketing compliance in Finance (for example)
Whether these organisations are producing printed or digital materials (or both) they need to meet specific compliance requirements on each and every document. For example, promotions made to a banking customer need to…
- Include the name of the firm.
- Be accurate and particularly doesn’t emphasise any potential benefits of a retail banking service without raising awareness of any relevant risks.
- Is sufficiently appropriate and understandable by the target audience.
- Does not disguise, diminish or obscure important information, statements or warnings.1
And that’s just for banking… A small snapshot into the could-be-painful intricacies of financial marketing compliance. Fear not though, the use of brand management tools that facilitate simplify the production and regulation of marketing materials and provide the much needed ibuprofen to your marketing compliance headache.
All this ensures brand consistency and compliance to the strict regulatory requirements of the finance industry. No really, it’s that simple. Know your stuff, partner with a brand management software provider (p.s we think you should partner with us) and rest easy knowing you’re compliant.
Step 3: Balance compliance with creativity
We know the what and the how, let’s chat why. Simply, marketing compliance simplifies your ability to balance brand compliance (and consistency) with creativity and flexibility. We get it, Omar from Design has a proclivity to vivid colours, wacky shapes and has an all round untameable creative flare — if you box them into straight lines and strict rules, you could be wasting Omar’s talents.
Balancing the compliance and creativity see-saw is a really difficult thing to do. Too much weight on one side, the see-saw tips and you end up with less than desirable material — either it’s super compliant and reeeaaalllyyy boring, or extra flamboyant but begging for a lawsuit — it’s a nightmare.
With a sophisticated tool you can centralise digital asset management through the use of approval communications, templates and holistic reporting meaning that any business can meet their compliance requirements easily. Suddenly you can answer the question: how do you create brand consistency without compromising creativity? Brand management software.
Step 4: Take a holistic approach
It serves to compartmentalise your marketing compliance. The copywriting team regulates themselves, design checks their work, messaging theirs and so on. However, for true compliance, everything needs to be cohesive. It’s no good having six disparate departments regulating themselves if the end product is not compliant, or if each time materials move to the next department, they reverse the work of the previous. COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
Brand management software that incorporates workflow and annotations with automated alerts and holistic communication tools ensures that everyone is talking to each other (only when they need to, it doesn’t facilitate water cooler chat). This way you can be sure that materials won’t go through compliance checks in copy, then to design, then back to copy and so on.
You need a sophisticated tool that can recognise everyone’s role, integrate your brand’s specific messaging and compliance guidelines and present that to the relevant people with total visibility. That’s visibility to track changes, identify whose input is whose and report on which assets work best and which are being underutilised.
So, in case you haven’t clocked on (in which case maybe it’s time to visit the GP) brand management software is the way to simplify marketing compliance. Your next quest is to find the right tool for you. Drop us a line and get a demo of our solution — Brandworkz.