Protect your brand investment with operational brand governance

Protect your brand investment with operational brand governance



Your business isn’t just built on the quality of your offerings. It’s also built, in large part, on the strength of your brand. And like any seasoned marketing executive, you know that brand-building isn’t a one-time activity. Your brand is a living, breathing entity — one that you must nurture and protect.

When your organization first invested in your current brand, you painstakingly crafted detailed brand guidelines. But over time, your organization evolved with new team members, agency partners, technologies, processes, and possibly even new business entities. So, too, has your brand evolved. It’s likely this evolution hasn’t been considered or integrated into every process, or responsibility, to be properly executed through each branded asset and customer touchpoint.

In fact, without addressing these changes from an operational standpoint, you are not only introducing inevitable cost and resource inefficiencies that can impact ROI, but your brand may become high risk for an inconsistent in-market brand experience.

Whether you’re gearing up for a rebrand or simply want to get your proverbial house in order, good brand governance includes addressing and investing in your underlying operations and infrastructure.

Doing so creates efficiencies that translate to freed-up time, resources, and budget. It also paves the way for increased internal adoption, a more consistent brand experience for your customers, and sets your brand up for greater agility in the face of a rapidly changing market landscape.

The basics of operational brand governance

So, what is operational brand governance, exactly? Many marketers are deeply familiar with brand governance, or the rules and guidelines that govern how a brand can be expressed visually and verbally.

But operational brand governance goes far beyond a written set of guidelines. Operational brand governance looks holistically at how you protect and uphold your brand strategy through your operational systems and processes. Its purpose is to secure the investment you’ve made in your brand and optimize the means by which you express it.

In particular, operational brand governance is concerned with questions like:

  • How consistently is your brand expressed in-market across all touchpoints?
  • What controls do you have in place to make sure you are consistently applying your brand, in marketing collateral and beyond?
  • Are you using technology as efficiently as possible to automate more tasks and eliminate manual work?
  • Are your marketing and brand processes well defined, understood, and followed?
  • How much rework and duplication of effort is happening?
  • How do you engage with external agencies/vendors and is that a good use of time and budget?
  • Do your employees truly understand the brand and how it should be applied?

These questions can be grouped into four main buckets, which comprise the four pillars of operational brand governance. These are: people (roles and responsibilities), process, technology, and training.

How do your company’s marketing and brand operations measure up

Now more than ever, marketers are expected to do more with less. Efficient brand and marketing operations are essential to achieving this mandate. Download a cheat sheet of the five characteristics of an effective brand and marketing operations function.

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You might think you don’t have the time or budget to focus on the operational side of brand governance. But not making it a priority is almost certainly costing you more in the form of wasted resources, budget, and a slower time to market.

External marketing budgets are shrinking. Which means that now is the time to look at how your marketing and brand teams function and where you could find more efficient ways of doing things, in order to free up much-needed resources, time, and money.

6 signs it’s time to assess your brand operations

Any brand can benefit from an operational tune-up. However if any of the following challenges sound familiar, you know it’s time to prioritize brand governance:

  1. Unclear roles and responsibilities. When it comes to things like getting approvals for creating branded assets, is your staff unclear on who to go to?
  2. Poorly defined processes. Are your processes cumbersome, outdated, undocumented — or just not followed? Do your people end up “doing their own thing” just to get branded materials or marketing initiatives completed?
  3. Wasteful agency spending. Do you know which agencies you are engaging for which services? Are you certain you aren’t double-paying for redundant agency support? Do you actively measure the performance of your agency partners, or do you take it for granted that they are worth their retainer fees?
  4. Redundant or manual work. Do your workflows involve a head-spinning trail of paperwork and approvals? Do you rely on hard-to-track emails to usher projects along from one stage to the next? Are your teams spending any time on manual input or processes that could be automated?
  5. Unsolved process pain points. Do you know you’ve got troublesome gaps and bottlenecks in your brand and marketing operations — but you can’t quite put your finger on where they’re coming from? Is your brand being expressed inconsistently, and you aren’t quite sure why?
  6. Operations autopilot. Has it been years (maybe even decades) since you last took a long, hard look at your marketing and brand operations? Have you been assuming that everything is running smoothly and efficiently — without really looking under the hood to see what needs fixing?

If you answered yes to one or more of the preceding questions, your organization can benefit from an operational brand governance assessment.

Optimize your operational brand governance with an opportunity analysis

At BrandActive, we help our clients reboot their operational brand governance with our marketing and brand operations opportunity analysis. As part of the analysis, we look at how you are currently managing your brand across people, process, technology, and training.

By taking a deep dive into each of these four areas, we identify where you are deviating from your brand strategy and introducing risk to your brand consistency and application. In addition, we zero in on inefficient marketing and brand processes and identify the root causes of those stumbling blocks. In the end, we present a list of opportunities to rationalize costs, gain efficiencies, and elevate the consistency of your brand expression.

Here are a couple of examples that differ in scope:

  • Prior to an anticipated rebrand, one organization sought to improve the impact and consistency of its in-market brand experience while reducing costs. We helped them identify and implement multiple ways to save six-figure sums. Actions included rationalizing marketing materials, reducing the variation and volume of business forms, better defining team roles, and streamlining processes.
  • We worked with a healthcare client who came to us with a common problem. Beyond the marketing team, members of their organization were using the logo everywhere — in all sorts of out-of-bounds situations and visual applications. As a result, the brand’s visual expression degraded. After conducting an opportunity analysis including a usage audit, we led our client in uncovering the dysfunctional process points — and correcting them.

By investing in an opportunity analysis, you ensure that your operations are truly efficient from a cost, time, and resource perspective. More importantly? You’ll deliver on your promise of a cohesive and trustworthy brand experience for your customers. Ready to begin? We’d love to hear from you.