Brand governance made easy: tips for managing your brand

19th May 2020

Brand governance across any organisation can be tough, but when you’re a nationwide or global brand with local hubs this becomes ten times harder.

Throw in different technology skills, equipment and support and it can be a right nightmare, but brand consistency is of vital importance for the success of your brand delivery. And that’s not just to increase brand awareness; getting your employees to buy into your identity is a huge opportunity to create your own brand advocates who will naturally live and breathe your brand without stepping foot in your marketing department.

So how do you make brand management easier for your marketing team without sacrificing brand governance? From our experience in working closely with charity communication experts across the world we’ve put together some advice which can help you with just that:

Provide a helping hand to those who may not understand brand identity

It’s important to remember that even though you spend all day living and breathing your brand there are other employees within your organisation that may not have had any experience with it, or in fact any brand at all. For them taking a brand and interpreting it may be a difficult and daunting task, so we’ve found that it’s key your communications/marketing team provide as much help as possible to those people. This can be in the form of:

Clear brand guidelines in an appropriate format

This sounds pretty obvious right, but clear brand guidelines are key to your brand consistency. Remember these are the framework that will be used by your whole organisation to interpret your brand identity so they need to be manageable and accessible, even if you are using something like a template tool or brand management tool already. Our aim here is to minimise any confusion so as well as well-laid out, organised content have a think about the right format for these guidelines. It could be a long PDF, or it could be something digital like a web page which can be a lot easier to navigate and keep up to date.

A template tool

Using something like BrandStencil to build pre-approved templates can help take the stress away from your employees and empower them to make on-brand artwork easily. You can relax, safe in the knowledge that your brand is protected, while your employees can get creative and make their own artwork that looks professional without worrying about fonts or colours.

Essential brand assets

Providing brand assets to your team is a sure way to keep marketing output on brand, while also asserting a little brand governance. It’s a way to keep a lockdown on those aspects that cannot budge while also supporting your team. One thing to think about here though: you will need to think about the technology available to your employees; what file types should you include, what software are they using? If you don’t know, make sure you find out, as assets that cannot be used may encourage employees to try and recreate them or sack them off altogether. Eek!

Run brand workshops or webinars

This may sound like a time sink but it doesn’t have to be. You could run one workshop every six months, covering how to use the brand in different ways and record this. You could then send this webinar to each local hub as a resource or provide this as part of your brand guidelines. This way if anyone is struggling with brand identity they have something to return to, and you are continuing to provide clear instructions to govern your brand.

Sharing examples of good practice

Sharing good examples of how people are using the brand is a sure way to help your employees learn the do’s and don'ts of your brand identity relatively quickly. Whether it’s firing a quick email off or adding something in your internal newsletter or intranet , by showing tangible, strong examples and explaining why these are working you will help educate your team, inspire confidence and empower them to create their own assets more easily. We’ll go into detail on this a little later, as this empowerment is super important!

Remember the more bought into the brand identity an employee is the more likely they are to become a brand ambassador and so naturally they will govern the brand wherever they are based.

Provide an open door principle for questions or suggestions

I know it sounds risky - potentially opening up the ‘floodgates’….but it really doesn’t have to be like that. In our experience most employees just want to be listened to and feel heard, and remember these are the people that can become your biggest brand advocates. Is it really worth shutting the door and effectively risking your brand consistency in order to save a little time? So the real question is how can you do this in a way that’s manageable but also effective?

Host an open meeting periodically

This doesn’t have to be monthly or even bi-monthly. It could be once a year, but just by opening that door and inviting employees to have ‘their say’ on your brand identity can be a real empowering tool for your employees. From here you can identify trends and correlations in how people are working with the brand and using the messaging, and potentially adapt as needed.

Remember the more bought into the brand identity an employee is the more likely they are to become a brand ambassador and so naturally they will govern the brand wherever they are based. That’s really what we are aiming for here; spreading knowledge and empowerment to make brand management as a whole a lot easier for all.

Offer a contact for approvals or questions

Often when people are working with a brand for the first time they do need some guidance, and often in fact they do want someone who knows the brand to approve what they are doing. It’s not so much the ‘brand police’ as more the ‘brand community support officer’ who we’re looking for here; someone who will help and guide, but also ensure it stays within the lines of your brand identity. Offering a dedicated contact or email address for this will not only help grow your employees’ confidence in using the brand and enable them to help other people, but it will also ensure you are seeing the trends of where people are struggling and providing the right support to aid this. Make sure this is clearly communicated in your brand guidelines: who it is, how to contact them and what they can expect with regards to support/turnaround time. In time you could then look to delegate a ‘brand officer’ in each local hub and allow them the ability to approve artwork and answer questions without needing the marketing team.

Offering a dedicated contact or email address for this will not only help grow your employees’ confidence in using the brand and enable them to help other people, but it will also ensure you are seeing the trends of where people are struggling and providing the right support to aid this.

Be as clear as possible for each usage in your brand guidelines

Social tiles, posters, email footers, videos, merchandise….there are so many different ways your brand can be used in an organisation and governing all of them can be tricky. For a marketeer who works closely with the brand the lines between each offering can be clear and straightforward, but for your employees this may not be the case. Therefore it is absolutely vital that you provide clear guidelines for each type of usage in your brand guidelines. We’ve touched upon this earlier but it is so very important to strike the right balance that we’ll dig into it a little more.

This doesn’t cover just the basics - colour, font, logos - but much more than that. Details could include:

  • a clearer direction of tone of voice, with examples included. Is this different on social media than on posters?
  • whether to use image credits or not, and when this is essential
  • which (if any) parts of the brand can be interpreted a little differently. Is there any flexibility in your brand and if so where?
  • good working examples of how your brand has been used in different ways. Often having something visual to see can help people interpret the brand better.

These are just a few ideas, but make sure you are addressing all of this in your brand guidelines. Remember this is the bible of your brand and the clearer you can be here the more encouraged your employees will feel to create something on brand. Which leads us on to...

Encourage your employees to own your brand

Remember a brand identity when broken down is simple things like colours and fonts; it’s your organisation’s mandate and the people that are helping to deliver this that really makes a brand come alive. That’s why we want to be open and encourage them to encompass the brand, as they are the ones that are filtering down your message on the ground.

One way you can do this is to celebrate their creations and achievements, perhaps by having a ‘brand advocate of the month’ where one person from a local hub receives recognition for a piece of artwork they created and this is shared in your internal newsletters or workplace. Or, for example, we have a ‘Share with my team’ feature that allows users to share their artwork with the teams, so you could create something similar: a digital team area where you can share great examples of assets your employees or local hubs have created. Maybe it’s a perfect social media tile or a fantastic tone of voice on a poster; whatever it may be it’s important to praise these. Again it’s a way to empower your employees but also manage your brand, as the more assets shared the more other people have to see how the brand should be used. It’s a win-win situation for all!

In conclusion, brand governance doesn’t have to involve the brand police anymore. In fact, the more open and supporting your communication/marketing team are the more your brand will thrive. Employee engagement is key and, when empowered, each has the potential to become their own brand governor - pretty cool right.