Brand Management

The brand control balancing act

Too much control can be a bad thing

Maintaining control is the natural reaction that most brand managers have when it comes to managing their brand. As I know this myself only too well, this is never truer than after a rebrand!

After a recent brand refresh, I was determined to ensure everyone (even salespeople) stuck to the new rules and used only approved content. But this was unsustainable. Firstly we (as is the case with most companies) did not have the resources to create fully compliant content for everyone who needed it. Secondly, and more importantly, my overprotectiveness was stopping my colleagues from interacting with and owning our new brand.

What I came to understand was that any brand that tries to maintain strict control over all elements of its brand risks stifling creativity and alienating staff and partners.

At Brandworkz, we believe that great brands need a clear set of guidelines about how the brand should look and feel. But great branding and marketing is produced by those who take the guidelines and add their skill and flair to develop brilliant content.

When a brand locks down every element of the brand with strict, non-negotiable brand rules, the creatives have no freedom of expression and partners are disincentivised (or worse, actively forbidden) from taking the brand and making it their own. This is a mistake that can drain your brand of life and affect your bottom line.

Which brands are finding the right balance?

Some of the best performing brands in the world are those who have loosened the reins on their guidelines. They are tapping into the community that has built up around their brand, with exceptional results.

Take Danish toy manufacturer Lego for example. Under the stewardship of Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Lego engaged with their fans for the first time in their history and now run campaigns such as Lego Ideas where anyone can suggest and vote on proposals for new toys with the most popular going into production. It might sound scary, but a little less brand control can make a big difference.

We are not advocating a free for all on your brand; after all, it is your most valuable business asset! You should adopt a flexible approach where certain elements (brand logo and values, for example) are set and should not be altered but allow creative freedom for your team and customers on how they can be applied.

So how do you strike that balance? Well, it will be a bit of trial and error. With internal teams, you will need to encourage them to try new things with your brand and then feedback on what works well and what does not. Brandworkz Showcase is used by our clients to highlight and share marketing activations that have done well so other teams or markets can get inspiration and a speedy way to reuse these successful approaches.

On a practical level, tools like our Web-to-Publish gives marketers and non-technical creatives the ability to customise and create on-brand artwork easily. Brand Managers can rest assured that non-negotiable elements of the brand will be respected, and your teams have the freedom to get creative.

If you strike the balance right, you will have a brand that is applied consistently all of the time and an engaged and empowered team who feel the freedom to use the brand as they see best.

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