As hybrid work becomes the norm, it’s time to strengthen your brand and marketing operations

As hybrid work becomes the norm, it’s time to strengthen your brand and marketing operations


Leigh Furlong

After two years of working remotely, you might be noticing that something is amiss in your marketing and brand operations. Perhaps your most talented employees are starting to consistently make mistakes. Maybe your time to market is getting longer and you’re not sure why. Or it could be that team members who collaborated beautifully in the past when they worked in the office now seem to function in siloes — or worse, engage in uncharacteristic finger pointing when things go wrong.

At the same time, you’re likely making decisions about what the future of work will look like for your team. You might be exploring a variety of in-person, hybrid, and remote working arrangements to attract and retain talent.

All of this should lead you to ask: Can your marketing and brandoperations withstand — let alone support — more change? And how will you address symptoms of operational breakdown while simultaneously equipping your team to drive your brand forward in the months and years to come?

We recommend taking a critical look at these four pillars of marketing and brand operations — people, processes, tools, and technology — to identify gaps, mitigate weaknesses, and prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead.

Ask your marketing and brand team about their pain points

You can’t shore up your marketing and brand operations without understanding exactly what the problems are. And although the symptoms you’re noticing may provide clues about where the breakdowns occur, the best way to understand what you’re dealing with is to talk directly to your people.

Start by delving into the pain points your employees are experiencing in these key areas.

Communication and collaboration with peers

A lack of in-person collaboration can quickly result in employees who feel disconnected and isolated, correlating to decreased productivity and efficiency.

To identify operational ways to foster greater communication and collaboration, ask your team:

  • What challenges have you experienced moving from in-person collaboration to remote work?
  • How would you describe your relationships with your teammates? Do you feel a sense of camaraderie with your colleagues?
  • Have you noticed any changes in how you interact in a remote environment versus in-person?

If you discover your employees crave more opportunities for connection, talk with them about ways you can address that need moving forward.

You can also create training opportunities for key leaders to help them understand how to foster collaborative relationships that lead to success.

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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Roles and responsibilities

It’s surprisingly common for confusion to arise around roles and responsibilities when employees work remotely — or when some work in-person and others work at home. And since many people prefer to avoid conflict, they may ignore the problem rather than address it. This leads to further erosion of defined roles and responsibilities over time.

Of course, you may have made changes to various roles for strategic reasons. The pandemic may have rendered some tasks obsolete while elevating others. As a result, perhaps you adjusted your team’s positions to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment.

No matter the reasons, if your team is confused about who’s doing what, it’s time to get everyone on the same page. Create new documentation or update existing position descriptions as needed. And be sure to follow up with clear communication that also invites employees to ask questions in writing, meetings, and one-on-one check-ins.

Feeling valued and engaged by the company

Employees who feel valued at work report higher levels of employee engagement and are typically more effective ambassadors for your brand. And if they feel connected to your organization’s ethos and purpose, they’re also more likely to adhere to the expectations you set around processes for brand consistency.

It may sound simplistic, but we’ve seen this play out time and again. Employees who feel a personal connection to your brand want to represent it well. They’ll talk the talk and walk the walk in simple and profound ways — whether that’s selecting the right logo for the project they’re working on or going the extra mile to serve your stakeholders more effectively.

In many cases, employees feel more valued when they’re recognized in-person for their efforts. Shout-outs on Slack or Teams are great, too, of course — but nothing beats the warmth of an in-person celebration. So, even if your organization is fully remote, look for ways to recognize accomplishments when you’re all together for a happy hour or team building event.

Examine these pillars of marketing and brand operations — people, processes, tools, and technology — to identify gaps and prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead.

Evaluate your marketing and brand processes

Good processes are easily repeatable and clearly documented. But don’t expect your employees to simply repeat the same processes over and over again forever. It may be time to rethink, reimagine, and reconstruct your processes to support a new way of working. This is particularly true if your company is shifting to a permanent hybrid or remote structure. The processes that served your in-person team effectively may constrict or constrain them in a remote setting.

Again, adjusting your processes should start by talking with your people. After all, they’re the ones responsible for adhering to them on a daily basis.

Explore questions like:

  • Which processes are working well? Are there any we should rethink or eliminate altogether?
  • How do you feel about the review and approval process for work you create? Do you get the answers you need when you need them?
  • What process shortcuts do you take when you’re pressed for time or up against a deadline? What process points would you never skip?
  • Do our workflows work for you? Are there any steps that feel unnecessary, redundant, or onerous?

It can be helpful to engage a consultant to gain an outside perspective about which processes work well and which ones should be reimagined. Plus, employees may be more candid with their feedback if they’re sharing it with a neutral third party.

Invest in tools and technologies that foster collaboration

The final pillars to evaluate as you strengthen your marketing and brand operations are your tools and technology. You may have rolled out project management systems or collaboration platforms early in the pandemic to respond to rapidly changing needs. But are those same systems ideal for the long run?

Now’s the time to determine which elements of your Martech stack are supporting your overall marketing objectives — and which may be holding your team back.

For example, perhaps you’ve relied on Zoom meetings to replace in-person ideation sessions. But if your team misses using sticky notes and bulletin boards while brainstorming, researching and investing in visually based collaboration tools might provide a similar or better experience.

Or maybe you’ve made do with a dated project management system for too long. If your employees hate it and have nothing but complaints about its poor usability, it’s time to get rid of it! By taking time to introduce the best digital solutions now, you can reduce or eliminate any frustration your team is experiencing. And even better, you can clear their path so they can do their best work.

Bolster your marketing and brand operations for the long-term wellbeing of your organization

Whether your marketing and brand operations are experiencing symptoms that indicate they need attention, or you simply want to strengthen your processes to support your team post-pandemic, it’s wise to devote time and attention to this important area.

Listen to your people to understand the joys and challenges they’ve experienced over the last few years. Look for ways to deepen connections and improve relationships whether you’re in-person or remote. And invest in the processes, tools, and technology that will support your team now and in the future.

Need help assessing your marketing and brand operations to make wise improvements? We’d love to walk alongside you and guide you through the process. Just reach out.