From Coca Cola’s classic calligraphy and McDonald’s golden ‘M’ to Google’s minimalist multicolour lettering and Apple’s sleek silver graphics, branding is interwoven into modern culture. Without it, businesses would have no personality nor recognition… factors that are key to their success and survival.
Since branding has become a central concept in business, design-driven brands have outperformed their non-design focussed counterparts by 228%.1 However, becoming a successful design-driven brand doesn’t happen overnight, and requires a rock-solid brand management strategy.
Underneath each brand lies layer upon layer of brand collateral and intangible assets, ranging from logos, favicons, banners, typography, and brand messaging to slogans, jingles, and music. Brand management is the task and process of managing and innovating many (if not all) of these assets across various teams, channels, and campaigns, orchestrating the use of branding in an effective way. Good brand management ensures that the right assets are made available to the right teams, at the right time, in the right format, and for the right purpose.
Of course, there is more to it than that. In this article we’re going to investigate what good brand management looks like through 2022 and beyond. Let’s go!
Suggested reading: Check out our Brand Consistency Toolkit to learn more about the best practices of brand management.
Creative and resonant branding
Fundamentally, branding is still a creative practice despite becoming more strategic and data-driven over the years. At the core of any design-driven brand is impactful, memorable branding that resonates with the target market — some things never change, right?
Nailing the basics such as creating a killer logo and signature colour scheme are as important as ever, but brand managers can dig a little deeper to maximise the effectiveness of branding in today’s complex and evolving brand landscape.
Know your audience
To strike a chord with an audience, you need to know who you’re playing to. You might feel like a kindred spirit with your supposed Gen-Z audience, but when you dig down into who your audience actually is, you might find it’s dominated by 40 and 50-somethings who are likely clueless about the #DojaCatChallenge #FYP TikTok videos you’re putting hours into making (yeah, me neither.)
- Keep up to date with your audience’s demographics and interests via web and social media analytics.
- While your findings might not affect your key branding, they might influence how you implement branding across different channels.
- Audiences can change, so keep an eye on any protracted demographic shifts that might change the way you manage the brand.
- But be sure to focus on the channels that are right for your audience instead of jumping on to the latest fad.
Embrace omnichannel, but stay consistent
We live in an omnichannel sales and marketing landscape, relying on everything from smart speakers and wearables to phones, tablets and self-service kiosks to connect us to brands. Brands with omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of store visits,2 whereas brands with strong omnichannel engagement retain 89% of their customers compared to just 33%.3
This presents a challenge for brand managers who must work extra hard to ensure the right teams have the right assets — logos, banners, favicons, etc — for the right channel — and at the right time. Digital asset management software (DAMs) are designed for this exact purpose, allowing omnichannel teams access to the same self-service assets regardless of what they’re working on and where.
- Look to engage customers with marketing strategies across multiple channels, e.g. social media, website, apps, email, etc.
- Create configurable assets for different channels.
- Campaigns should be coherent and well-linked to create continuity and brand storytelling.
Commitment to monitoring brand perception
Brand perceptions are fast-moving in both positive and negative directions. Monitoring brand perception helps brand managers understand the changing dynamics of brand awareness, wiring them into current trends and conversations that involve both their own brand and competitors or industry neighbours.
After all, it’s crucial to understand where changes in brand recognition and awareness come from, and whether they’re attributable to either positive or negative coverage. There have even been cases where brands have been wrongly accused, or are incorrectly associated with someone or something else — poultry brand Perdue Chicken was wrongfully accused of being associated with the disgraced US Senator David Perdue, for example.4
Social media listening
Social media listening is the process of analysing social media for brand mentions. Conversations can be turned into powerful insights that help brand managers optimise marketing strategies.
There’s also plenty of examples of brands missing the mark and then some on social media (see Kraft’s #SendNoods campaign) only to backtrack having lost significant followers and customers — this is a risk worth averting at all costs.5
There are winners too. Ocean Spray’s reaction to a viral TikTok video of Nathan Apodaca, aka Dogg Face, vibing out to Fleetwood Mac on his skateboard whilst swigging from a bottle of their cranberry juice is one such example. The video prompted Ocean Spray to execute an excellent piece of marketing when they rocked up at his house with a red truck full of Ocean Spray within just 24 hours of him posting the video. It was a massive success, broadcast all over the media, and resonated with fans of both Dogg Face and Ocean Spray.
- Monitor brand perception to reveal insights into what customers think about your brand, thus creating an understanding of brand equity.
- Social media listening enables brands to deliver value through innovative marketing strategies that boost brand awareness.
- Stay wired into what people are thinking to create effective brand experiences to match current trends.
- Combine the points above to create an agile strategy that reacts quickly to brand management opportunities.
The ability to maintain brand consistency and authenticity
Branding is not an exact science by any means. It lives, breathes and evolves with the brand and its products and services across multiple channels. Consistent brand presentation can increase revenue by a whopping 33%, whereas strong brand authenticity is a major marker of success, with 86% of customers saying that authenticity is important for brands and 81% buying based on trust.6
As such, brand managers must exercise flexibility and consistency — it might feel like a game of Twister connecting the dots across multiple channels, but the point remains that brand consistency is too critical to leave by the wayside.
Optimising brand guidelines and approvals
Managing brand guidelines and approval systems helps instil a culture of consistency. With multiple teams working across multiple channels, the brand manager’s role is to ensure nothing falls through the cracks whilst simultaneously enabling democratic access to the same high-quality brand assets.
Managing approval workflows is much simpler using centralised tools, such as brand management software (BMS), which enable different teams to access the same ‘single source of truth’ for all brand assets, vastly improving the efficiency of marketing teams (as it’s just wonderful when everyone knows where everything is).
Approvals are logged in the same tool for checking. In addition, automated template systems can help teams configure new artwork quickly using any available assets, cutting the time it takes to publish customised material. Once the groundwork for consistency has been laid properly, it’s just a matter of maintaining it — BMS helps brand managers lay that groundwork.
- Utilise DAMs and BMSs to create a culture of consistency.
- Approval workflows help brand managers retain control over omnichannel teams.
- Customisable templates streamline the process of customising brand assets.
Modern brands need to work to build trust and authenticity, but defining these concepts is a tricky one. First off, 64% want brands to be engaged in social issues,7 and 77% prefer to buy from brands that share meaningful values.8
The key task here is ensuring that marketing communications and brand messaging align to relevant issues that coincide with brand values. This creates a conversation, or dialogue, fostering connections between brands, their products, and the values they stand for.
Brand messaging should communicate ideas and stories that connect to contemporary issues and socio-cultural trends. It’s worth mentioning that this also presents a risk in how brands should handle social issues, and how they can provide substance to their claims. However, this is more than balanced out by the outcomes it facilitates.
- Brands shouldn’t shy away from ‘getting real’ and engaging with social issues, this is what customers want to see.
- From a brand messaging perspective, this comes down to reinforcing what the brand’s values are and communicating these transparently and with authenticity.
- Brands should stand for more than making a profit. Customers want to see what else they care about.
Brand management software can help
It’s a lot to bear in mind, right?
Brand management is super-diverse, drawing upon creative resources across different teams. Resultantly, there are numerous challenges faced by brand managers, who have to negotiate campaigns across multiple channels. Perhaps the greatest difficulty is that, if something does fall through the cracks — if there is some sort of hiccup (hopefully not of the same gravity as #sendnoods) — then this will likely fall on the brand manager and negatively effect your brand control strategy.
To simplify the whole brand management process, there’s never been a greater need for centralising brand assets and workflows into one smooth-functioning single source of truth. Brand management software does exactly this, helping brand managers make assets accessible whilst maintaining rock-solid brand guidelines with enterprise-wide visibility and retaining control over approval.
The centralisation of brand assets grants teams self-service access, thereby saving everyone a significant amount of time compared to manually digging through endless folders for the right file (because, let’s be honest, it’s always in the one you check last).
1 DESIGN-DRIVEN COMPANIES OUTPERFORM S&P BY 228% OVER TEN YEARS – THE ‘DMI DESIGN VALUE INDEX
2 Omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits.
3 The State of Omnichannel Shopping – Statistics and Trends
4 Poultry firm denies any link to US Senator of same name who mocked Kamala Harris
5 Kraft pulls provocative ‘send noods’ ads after drawing ire online
6 10 Branding Statistics You Need To Know In 2021
7 #BrandsGetReal: What consumers want from brands in a divided society
8 10 Branding Statistics You #BrandsGetReal: What consumers want from brands in a divided societyNeed To Know In 2021