Ingredients of an effective brand management strategy

No company is immune to the dangers of inconsistent branding. The monolith and champion of brand consistency, Coca-Cola, slipped up and nearly ruined decades of hard work responding to their rival’s “Pepsi Challenge” in the ’80s.

After developing a new formula to beat Pepsi’s taste test, Coca-Cola released ‘New Coke’. Their audience was outraged that they’d moved away from their roots and the original Coca-Cola was no longer available. They quickly reversed the decision relaunching the classic formula, however, over 35 years on it’s still in branding history as one of the worst branding mistakes ever made.

So what can you do to avoid the pitfalls, and develop an effective brand management strategy?

Here are some essential elements of an effective strategy…

Pro-tip; It’s best practice to use and consider most of what we’re going to discuss next when deciding on a brand management tool too.

Make full use of your internal audience!

Your internal audiences are your biggest brand advocates and they should be represented in your strategy. This doesn’t just mean including people from your marketing, creative, HR, and senior management teams. You need to incorporate representatives from across the company, such as your sales, customer service, volunteer teams etc. These people will all have essential insight that may be beneficial to your strategy’s success.

Not only will these select representatives offer different insights into larger decisions, they’ll also help with buy-in across your organisation, when it comes to carrying out actions and implementing new practices.

Other members of their team may look to them as brand advocates so they might just help galvanise those around them, increasing the success of your actions.

Why should you do this…

Below are just some of the advantages you’ll experience by involving representatives in the process:

  • Engages and empowers team members.

  • Strengthens team bonds.

  • Reinforces their knowledge, and consequently, your brand’s messaging and tone of voice.

  • Helps create maximum impact.

  • Lessens your workload.

  • Enables you to shout louder and with more passion.

  • Easier for you to get the project successfully over the line.

Understanding where consistency vulnerabilities are

When it comes to plotting your brand management strategy, you need to poke holes and find your company’s weaknesses. You want to spot hurdles that your organisation is facing which could impact the brand.

This is where involving key representatives will pay dividends. By speaking to a wide and varied range of people, you may uncover how the demands on the teams are changing and what challenges they’re facing with regard to the brand.

Below are some key things to consider when outlining possible vulnerabilities:

  • How much is the growth of the business affecting different teams?

  • Are changing responsibilities causing issues?
    • For example, do teams need to produce their own marketing materials and are they staying on-brand?

  • What is the demand on the communication, marketing, or design teams to help support other teams within the business?

  • What level of brand support is required?
    • In some cases simply running workshops and sharing best practices may be sufficient.

  • Is the brand already experiencing an element of slippage and why?
    • Are different teams producing their own branded materials?

    • Do members of other teams understand the brand’s identity?

    • To what extent do these teams require support and is it available to them?

This will help you to identify where it’s necessary to offer more assistance to those creating branded materials. You can then judge the level of support needed and predict where future help may be required.

5 tactics for identifying assets in need of management

It can be difficult for you to identify the comms material and brand assets that need managing. This is because priorities vary dramatically across different departments.

Below are a few tactics that you can use to help:

  1. Create a list of who is represented and catered for in your comms material.
    • Are there departments, teams, or local areas that need to be added or removed?

  2. Carry out an internal audit of existing comms material.
    • You might want to survey all department heads and team leaders to find out what they use and what they feel is missing.

  3. Create a list of assets used.
    • Do you need to make any amendments or have there been updates that you don't know about?

  4. Find out what content is currently in existing comms.
    • Does anything need to be updated or added?

  5. Discover which key questions may arise surrounding branding.
    • Talk to your advocates, listen to their questions, and build from there.

Pro-tip; You don’t need to go into great detail here just give yourself an overview of what marketing material is circulating. The detail can come later.

Situation analysis, like the steps listed above, is an integral part of strategy creation that can be underrated and sometimes a little rushed. However, when done right it can help deliver a really strong brand management strategy.

Delivering your strategy

Here are some tactics you can employ to help you ensure that your brand strategy is easy to carry out:

  1. Create a single source of truth for all stakeholders: Each team member that produces comms material for your brand needs access to the relevant tools to help them adhere to your brand guidelines. A brand management platform is an effective way of delivering this and it puts you in control!

  2. Create an internal brand portal: Some organisations create an internal brand website which gives more detailed information about the branding decisions. This site may also outline the brand’s goals, FAQ’s, transitioning information, and a timeline. This helps your advocates and internal audiences feel empowered and engaged with the brand. They’ll feel confident and equipped to carry out their role with ease.

  3. Use 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.

  4. Create essential brand assets: Providing brand assets to your team is a surefire way to keep marketing output on-brand, while also asserting a little brand governance. It’s a way to keep control of those aspects that cannot budge while also supporting your team.

  5. Run brand workshops and webinars: This may sound like a time sink but it doesn’t have to be! Why not run one workshop every six months? You could cover how to use the brand in different ways. You could even record this workshop and share it as a webinar to each local hub as a resource. Or better still, include the recorded workshop as a part of your brand guidelines.

  6. Share examples of good practice: Sharing good examples of how people are using the brand is a great way to help your employees learn the dos and don’ts 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 will help educate your team, inspire confidence and empower them to create their own assets.

Your organisation is a living, breathing organism created and operated by people. We’re social creatures who thrive when we’re included and feel a part of a team. Take this into account, integrate others into your strategy and you will reap the rewards.

Pro-tip; the more involved your team feels the more they will be invested in its success!

What do you need to consider when deciding on a brand management platform?