5 Top Tips for Future-Proof Brand Governance
The traditional role of brand governance has been to ensure that brands are presented consistently, guidelines are followed, and rules are adhered to.
However, according to Senior Digital Consultant for the VIM Group, Michael Gentle, standard brand governance practices are no longer effective. In today’s digital-led brand and marketing world, companies have less direct control over their brands.
This change has been driven by the dizzying growth of new channels, touchpoints and influencers. At the same time, employees have access to vast social media networks to talk about their employer. And brands are striking new partnerships with influencers who are recruited to promote the brand but are not necessarily managed in the same way as traditional brand ambassadors. These factors loosen a brand guardian’s control over the brand and mean a change in thinking is required.
In that sense, brands now need to be highly dynamic and are embodied by the employees, ambassadors and influencers who talk about them. This change has motivated many brands to shift towards a more reactive, flexible and ‘future-proof’ model.
With these changes in mind, what can organisations do to ensure their brand administration and governance is fit for the future?
1. Bid farewell to the ‘style police’
Re-defining brand governance means saying goodbye to the corporate style police and the limiting ‘silo’ structure of brand management. Even the idea of an internal brand owner is out of date. Instead, teams with a stake in brand management and performance such as IT, HR and Retail should discuss it collaboratively.
Brand managers need to become more like community or relationship managers who engage internal stakeholders to influence brand development, rather than implementing a rule book.
By engaging all relevant stakeholders, canvasing their opinion and making brand development collaborative, the entire organisation is better prepared and enthused to implement the brand effectively – even across a complex multinational company.
2. Get your assets together
Sometimes referred to as a central brand portal, a digital asset management (DAM) system will help the organisation coordinate brand usage guides, design principles, imagery and assets. Popular examples include Bynder and Frontify.
Best practice in brand governance is focused on organisation, so a well-organised and consistently implemented DAM can create efficiencies of cost, time and brand performance.
Many organisations, including Unilever, have already adopted solutions that are scalable and efficient. Ultimately there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so organisations must find the right product for their industry and business model.
Whatever your approach or product, it’s important to continually update and refresh the DAM’s contents to maximise your return on investment. A consistent pipeline of new assets and visual identity improvements should be matched by regular face-to-face conversations with stakeholders to canvas their opinions and needs for new content creation.
3. Adopt templates
With a DAM in place, the organisation has an opportunity through most portals to create templates that save on time and resources.
Marcomms, posters, business cards, banner ads and brochures can all be designed for both offline and online use and when seeding new collateral to regional markets. The template can ‘lock’ certain brand elements while leaving main copy and calls-to-action ‘unlocked’.
Dynamic collateral promotes quicker, more cost-effective creation of brand materials. This also empowers individual teams to take the initiative and create new collateral on the brand’s behalf. The result is more content, time saved and better engagement from employers who have clearer instructions about how to communicate the brand.
When it comes to also adopting branded templates for PowerPoint and other Microsoft applications, a tool such as Templafy is well worth checking out.
4. Implement a brand helpdesk
We’re all used to IT helpdesks, but organisations of a certain size will also benefit from implementing a brand helpdesk that acts as the main port of call for any queries about assets, asset management, design, templates and all other related areas.
The helpdesk can deal with queries and requests, but can also be proactive in reaching out to relevant stakeholders to communicate answers to common challenges or to keep the conversation about brand governance ‘live’.
It can also act as a central communication channel for all stakeholders. As always, strong personal relationships will make communication easier, so it’s important to introduce the helpdesk team at an appropriate time and to schedule regular catch-ups.
5. Fuel employee engagement
A dynamic brand starts with employees. A strong combination of brand and company culture will be critical, so employees are proud of the brand and vocal in support of their employer.
The people, processes and tools mentioned above can be used in concert with employee wellbeing and HR initiatives to reinforce that feeling of brand pride. By giving employees the tools they need to communicate the brand, they are given more assistance and greater freedom to fulfil other day-to-day tasks.
Adoption of brand governance processes and tech will rely on regular consultation with employees, online information portals, training activities, employee onboarding and updates throughout the year. Metrics can be then be analysed to illustrate the positive impact of new brand governance processes.