When is the last time you took a holistic view of your brand to evaluate how impactful it is? Brand consistency is much more than simply presenting a united front in your brand identity, voice, messaging, and experiences. A consistent brand is crucial to gaining brand adoption, building brand trust, and driving brand affinity.
Maintaining brand consistency is a perennial challenge. Add to that the steady proliferation of new channels, the rise of customer voice, and the formation of increasingly specialized marketing disciplines, and brand governance has gotten even more complicated.
The most important place to start when attempting to address this challenge is looking at your brand operations model. Ensuring clarity around roles and responsibilities, process definition, accessibility to resources, and clear lines of communication are important tenants that will make or break your operations model. Consider the following tips to optimize your operations infrastructure.
6 surefire ways to increase your brand’s consistency
While brand guidelines are critical to establish common understanding, they are just the beginning when it comes to actually ensuring that you achieve brand consistency in practice. How effective are your brand guidelines if your team doesn’t have the right processes in place to apply them? With the right operational brand governance practices, you’ll be able empower your team to express your brand in a way that delivers the highest impact across each channel and touchpoint.
1. Think holistically about your brand
Successfully implementing a consistent brand starts with your mindset. So, before you begin mapping out the rules, processes, and workflows necessary to protect your brand’s integrity, be sure to put brand governance in proper perspective.
Achieving brand consistency takes more than making sure everyone uses the right version of your logo. It’s about ensuring everyone involved in delivering your brand has a deep understanding of your brand strategy and value proposition—it’s really a call to cultural alignment. When your entire organization, from CEO to intern, knows the message and the meaning behind your brand, that understanding drives behavior and actions, and the brand is then seamlessly extended outside the organization. External audiences will then have a more consistent experience which is a key component in building loyalty. There is no shortcut to obtaining internal buy-in; it takes concerted and consistent effort. But investing the time and effort to bring along your entire organization on your brand journey, will pay dividends for years ahead.
2. Create flexible communication guidelines grounded in underlying strategic goals
Gone are the days of organizations crafting a single, global set of communication guidelines to apply to every channel and situation. Today’s marketing landscape is just not that simple. Different channels require different approaches. The tenor of your communications on LinkedIn will almost certainly be different than the approach you use on Instagram – and they should be.
But that doesn’t mean that your overall brand strategy differs based on channel. Channel owners need to have a deep understanding of the brand strategy that extends beyond the words of the brand promise so they can tailor their communications to each segment. Take Nike. One of these messages was posted to LinkedIn, while the other lives on Instagram. The company’s brand message of inclusivity and breaking down barriers is reflected in both executions while targeting different audiences for different purposes.
The gold standard is going beyond your brand values and thinking about how you want your brand to be perceived from your audience’s point of view. What do you want your customers to feel, think, and believe after each interaction with your brand? Your entire team needs to understand these deeper objectives. Once they do, they can more flexibly apply your communications guidelines in ways that make sense within each channel — while at the same time remaining true to your brand.
3. Develop clear and efficient review and approval processes
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to formalize and document a clear review and approval process for using brand and marketing assets. This important structure plays a key role in safeguarding your brand’s consistency. Without it, you seriously undermine your ability to produce consistent brand experiences.
However, it’s not enough to simply identify review and approval workflows. To be truly effective, you must go one step further and make sure everyone in charge of reviews and approvals is aligned on your strategic goals.
4. Train everyone who touches your brand
In order to consistently execute your brand, everyone who touches your brand — from customer care representatives to external agency partners — must understand your brand strategy and the “why” behind it. What are we trying to achieve? How did we get to this strategy? What does this mean for our customers? What do we value as a brand? Take the time to engage the organization around these key questions so that they have deeper context to your strategic objectives.
In addition, they should know which aspects of your brand are nonnegotiable (visual identity, for example) and which are flexible enough to be modified as needed (tailoring to local markets or communities, for example). Finally, be sure your team members know who to ask or where to go to clarify questions as new use cases arise.
5. Break down silos and encourage collaboration
As increasingly specialized marketing disciplines emerge, the risk of siloes grows. But in order to seamlessly execute your brand across all touchpoints, coordination and transparency are king. Of course, that starts with training. But it doesn’t end there. Your internal and external brand and marketing teams should meet on a regular basis to share and ideate. Everyone should know each other’s current activities, key objectives, and future plans. Ensure that teams are cross-trained, understand what key metrics and objectives exist across different platforms, and why. By structuring department-wide processes that including ongoing sharing of marketing plans and tactics, you can avoid duplicative work, inconsistencies, and be sure that all of your external facing initiatives are aligned. Another way to encourage collaboration is to establish joint metrics so that everyone is working towards shared objectives.
6. Leverage the right tools and technology
Even the best-laid plans fall apart without the right tools to maintain them. Technology is vital to your brand operations by streamlining processes and supporting more automation and efficiency overall. Are you leveraging digital tools and technology platforms that help your team collaborate, break down silos, share information about current initiatives, and organize branded assets? If not, take the time to research your options, from brand asset management systems to workflow automation tools. Putting together a curated stack of tools will relieve a lot of inefficiencies, and also allow you to scale your operations significantly.
Operational brand governance isn’t a one-and-done effort. It’s an ongoing commitment to protect your brand investment — and create top-notch customer experiences, too. But with the right mindset, systems, communication, and tools, it’s possible to make a consistent brand the norm for your organization.