Building a best-in-class brand management system

Building a best-in-class brand management system

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Monday, May 6, 2019 | Nicole Kemp, Ed Burn

If your brand has been through a major transition, there are some common pitfalls that may be familiar: The one-off brochure that doesn’t use approved photos and copy. Product-specific websites that don’t align with the master brand. Embroidered polo shirts that don’t match the logo’s Pantone color. Requests for branded assets that pile up on the design team’s desks.

The rebranding process is the ideal time for your marketing team to regain control of the brand and the ways it’s executed across your organization. That’s because you’ll be evaluating, prioritizing, and reproducing a full range of assets with the new brand — on a tight budget and timetable. The right technology can help you both streamline the rebranding rollout now and maintain the integrity of the brand longer-term.

Organizations that aren’t going through a rebrand but are struggling with brand governance and a sub-optimal brand management system can adopt many of the suggestions in this article.

Components of a Brand Management System

In the midst of the activity surrounding your rebranding effort — perhaps the company is merging with or acquiring another — it may seem impossible to add technology evaluation and selection to your to-do list. But the right systems will make the process more efficient and cost-effective now and in the future.

A best-in-class brand management system has three components:

1. Brand engagement — a richly branded, user-friendly online interface that functions as a brand hub to educate and engage users about how to work with your brand, with links to content

2. Branded asset management — a storage system for all brand resources: logos, graphics, photos, copy, etc., so you can organize, control and distribute all brand content in one place

3. Workflow automation — a way for employees to requisition, create and fulfill branded materials

BrandHub

Typically an internal website, the brand engagement system is a living embodiment of the brand. It contains guidelines, reference material, training videos, standards manuals, mission and vision, and other resources that employees need to represent the brand in their own work and in producing branded assets.

At BrandActive, we call this type of tool “BrandHub.” BrandHub can be technically uncomplicated — a gated website or wiki — and must be flexible and scalable so marketing managers can add or update information over time. When it is launched during a rebrand, this portal is one of the first things that carry the new brand’s voice throughout the company, so it has to be a true reflection of the brand experience.

The brand hub fulfills two complementary needs: First, it empowers all employees to engage with the brand and bring it to life, giving them a sense of ownership. It gives them tools to confidently produce the branded assets they need.

At the same time, it ensures proper brand governance and cost control. Design and marketing teams no longer have to field requests for the latest brand standards — everything is online. Brand managers can quickly update the portal, so the organization can respond to business changes. With access to clear guidelines, tools, and processes, employees spend less time duplicating efforts and more time on activities that drive value to the company.

Branded Asset Management

A digital asset management (DAM) system works in parallel with the BrandHub; it’s the method of storing and sharing the myriad components of the brand’s expression. Logo lockups, color palettes, a photo library, style sheet templates for web pages, specifications for social media posts, business card templates, brochure copy — all of it approved — can be centrally hosted and transferred by the DAM.

Your organization may have previously used an internal network drive or solution like SharePoint or Dropbox to store brand assets. And you’ve probably seen their shortcomings; these systems can create a veritable forest of nested folders, making it difficult for users to locate what they’re looking for. Weeding out old versions, managing access, and preventing users from copying or replacing the wrong documents are all challenging with shared file systems.

A comprehensive DAM solution gives marketers more control. You can set up parameters for who can view, download, or request access to assets — and also track users’ activity. Furthermore, a DAM system can save time and money. By managing assets in-house, you’ll reduce expenses for outside agencies. Metadata associated with each item in a DAM system reduces the time users spend simply finding and downloading files vs. a shared file system.

Workflow Automation

The third piece of the puzzle, workflow automation, supports all marketing efforts by streamlining various processes to a broad range of marketing activities, projects and campaign. The right workflow enables marketing users to:

  • Plan projects and assign tasks to specific staff members, user groups and agency partners
  • Allow many users to initiate projects using approved workflow and brief templates
  • Track all marketing activities with breakdowns available by campaign, project, media and task, and many other metrics
  • Receive real-time status notifications for task assignment and completion

Each individual’s activities are managed on a personalized dashboard highlighting their tasks and projects.

As a marketer, it may give you pause that Steve in the San Diego office can order business cards for the new staffer. But it shouldn’t. Automation gives your marketing team a high level of control. It relieves your design team from responding to countless small requests and frees them up to focus on more valuable work. A workflow system manages the approval process, so users can’t simply produce whatever they want, and it allocates costs to the right budgets. It empowers people to produce what they need the right way, rather than using Word to design brochures.

Choosing the Right Brand Management Solution

Vendor selection can be tricky, as brand management solutions range from full-service systems to standalone products that integrate with other tools. So, it’s essential for your team to get a handle on your requirements before you talk with a solution provider. As you start to consider products and implementation, we at BrandActive can help you choose the BrandHub that is best for you by:

  • Analyzing your requirements and find solutions that will meet your needs
  • Ensuring apples-to-apples comparison during vendor evaluation, RFP programs, and procurement processes
  • Testing the solution with internal stakeholders and users to ensure that it meets your requirements
  • Watching out for escalating costs based on usage
  • Paying close attention during onboarding with your chosen vendor to ensure you get the most out of the solution
  • Developing user training materials including introduction and training videos, and plans for change management

Controlling Quality and Costs

By educating employees about the new brand, giving them the right access to the right assets, and making it easy for them to create approved branded materials, these three technologies give you greater control.

A rebrand is the right time to implement a BrandHub brand management system: Your corporate culture is shifting and employees are open to change. Old ways of doing business are under evaluation. You’re tasked with rolling out the new brand over potentially hundreds of touchpoints. Leaders are focused on maximizing the ROI on the rebrand initiative. And you want to ensure the integrity of the brand going forward. The right brand management technology can help you achieve all those goals.

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