Evolving your brand operations to support your brand architecture

Evolving your brand operations to support your brand architecture

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020 | Vladimir Kacar, Nicole Kemp, Laura Malone

When you rebrand, you may be making changes to your brand architecture as well. Whether you are rebranding because you are acquiring a new brand, consolidating many brands, or otherwise reworking your portfolio of brands, architecture considerations are an important part of the process. And while developing the strategy is one thing, actually operationalizing those changes is another thing entirely. Your new brand’s success hinges on your ability to build a brand operations infrastructure that reflects and effectively supports your new architecture.

Your brand operations infrastructure should reflect your brand architecture

As you revise brand architecture, you’ll likely think hard and long about the messaging and the impact to customer experience, commission market research to understand the equity of each brand, and more. But those externally-facing considerations are truly just the tip of the iceberg.

And an iceberg really is the right image to keep in mind. What lies beneath the surface of the water is your brand operations infrastructure, which is what enables you to express your brand architecture effectively, appropriately and consistently.

For example, if you currently employ a house of brands model, you may have individual brand teams managing each brand. If moving to a branded house model, you will need to consider all sorts of brand operations questions. How will you combine or redeploy the individual teams that work on each of the distinct brands? If the brand teams remain separate, what will you do to create more alignment and collaboration between them? To what extent will marketing planning be consolidated? What new processes need to be implemented to ensure appropriate brand application? What are the new rules of engagement for using which brands in which instances? And how will you manage each brand so that they are distinct, yet still connected to the master brand?

As you’re probably starting to see, your new brand architecture will trigger operational changes throughout your entire organization — changes you must account for right away or risk eroding your investment in your new brand.

How to build the right brand operations infrastructure for your new brand architecture

The rebrand planning phase is the right time to hammer out exactly how you will operationally support your external brand changes. To do that well, you’ll need to consider the following factors:

Focus on the four pillars of brand operations

Your first order of business is to take a holistic look at your brand operations to identify the ways in which you will need to evolve to stay in lockstep with your new brand architecture. Use the four pillars of brand and marketing operations as your framework for a comprehensive audit. The four pillars include:

  • People. Evaluating your brand operations through the “people” lens means looking closely at roles and responsibilities. Who owns your brand strategy (or brands’ strategies)? Who is in charge of execution? Who is in charge of reviews and approvals? And who takes ownership and accountability for each brand?
  • Process. A new brand architecture means more than new brand guidelines and standards. It could mean you have to completely change the way you work on a day-to-day basis to effectively apply the brand. Depending on the nature of your strategy, this could trickle down in a lot of different ways, operationally speaking. The important thing is that you create and refine processes that maintain and uphold the integrity of your new brand architecture. From vendor training to brand approvals, what processes do you need to put in place to ensure that you efficiently and effectively translate your new brand architecture to a consistent in-market experience?
  • Technology. Next, you’ll want to review the tools and technology you use to implement your internal processes. How can you more effectively leverage new or existing tools and technology to support those processes? How can you automate parts of the process, reduce workload or time to market? How can you make sure everyone has access to what they need in terms of brand resources?
  • Training. Training is absolutely essential to the success of your new brand architecture. That’s especially true if your brand is a complex structure with nuances or co-branding rules. Remember, a brand architecture change will mean a lot of disruption to what your teams are doing on a daily basis — and that goes beyond just the brand and marketing teams. Make sure you have a consistent and compelling story to tell your employees so that they have the right context to form a solid understanding of the new brand architecture. Moreover, your staff (and vendors) need to understand how to apply your new architecture. How should they use the new brand? What are the new rules, and where can they go with the inevitable follow-up questions?

Consider shared marketing services

Many organizations today are taking a look at their brand operations even outside the context of a rebrand in order to find efficiencies and reduce costs. One of the trends we see is the move towards a centralized brand and marketing function and the introduction of a shared marketing services team. Under this model, a shared marketing service group is usually responsible for all creative services, digital channel implementation, social strategies, content development, and so on, across all of your brands. By creating a centralized function, you can reduce duplicative effort, share ideas across brands, and have a more holistic view of how each brand is being expressed in-market. In addition, shared services make it easier to cross-train your staff on your brands and make centralized decisions regarding brand application.

Even if you retain multiple brand managers to handle your individual brands, you can foster connectivity and cohesion between brands and brand initiatives through effective processes, detailed training, and centralized tools and resources.

To sum this all up, changing your brand architecture without addressing how your infrastructure and operations will support the transformation can introduce multiple risks—from unclear roles to undefined processes—and produce unintended consequences, including inconsistent brand expression. To protect the investment you’ve made in your new brand, it’s best to address the implications of architecture changes to brand operations as part of your rebranding process.

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