Biz Tips: Guide to Creating a Brand Management Strategy

Biz Tips: Guide to Creating a Brand Management Strategy

Biz Tip:

Guide to Creating a Brand Management Strategy

What Is a Brand Management Strategy?

A brand management strategy is closely tied to your brand and marketing strategies. In fact, it is a reflection or a continuum of your business strategy as a whole. It defines what your focus areas are in the realm of brand management so you can reach your wider goals and targets like providing more value to customers or becoming more known as a brand.

Brand Building vs. Brand Management

When we search for content on brand management, we usually see articles on positioning your brand, creating a mission and a vision for your brand, or finding an identity for your brand. But in my conversations with different senior branding experts, these topics are fairly well known and generally tackled at the early stage of starting or branding an initiative or a company. This is what we refer to as ‘brand building’. A very important set of actions and decisions to execute (and reiterate and evaluate every so often) but nailing your brand early on doesn’t make it successful.

After building a brand comes managing a brand. It’s making sure that your brand is communicated consistently by all your stakeholders; your employees, customers, shareholders, and others. It’s making sure that your brand is clear, that branded content follows your guidelines, and that there are no stretched logos or inappropriate imagery associated with your brand. And what you focus on and which tactics you use to achieve this depends on your brand management strategy.

Different Types of Strategies

When it comes to brand management, there are two main strategic directions to consider. Are you a brand that is well-established or a market leader in your target market? Think of the Coca Colas and Apples out there. These are brands that are almost synonymous with the product or service they offer. They are known by their audience and relatively big. These companies want to focus their brand management strategy on continuity, clarity, and stability.

Smaller companies, undertakers, start-ups, and other new ideas are going to opt a brand management strategy focused on growth and gaining visibility. Hopefully the two different directions give you some insight to what really goes into a brand management strategy on a very practical level. If you find your company to be somewhere in the middle of the stability/growth spectrum, go ahead and combine some of the tactics and themes from different strategies to build your own.

Let’s have a look at what elements are key for each of the directions.

Focus on Stability

If you are working for a brand that already controls the narrative in your niche, you naturally work hard to maintain that position. There are some key themes to focus on when you are shaping your brand management strategy:

Check Your Brand Consistency

Problem: A sure way to lose an audience or confuse customers is being inconsistent with your brand. As your company grows, the likelihood of inconsistencies grows. Makes sense, your brand is managed by people after all and the more diverse the crowd, the more likely it is that your messaging, tone of voice, visual style, or other components of your carefully curated brand essentials are misunderstood, outdated, or simply ignored.

Action: Have your brand guidelines and all other documentation on how your brand is used in an interactive cloud-based format. Are you guilty of keeping your brand guidelines on a PDF and sharing updated versions over and over again? Or are your guidelines scattered all over the intranet? Both scenarios will get your brand in trouble because too many contradicting versions exist at the same time. It’s a hassle for your colleagues to find out which file is the correct one and who’s hard drive it’s on. And, unfortunately, we all know that if something too difficult to do, people are not going to bother. Make finding your brand guidelines easy and accessible for everyone.

What about those people who just don’t care about your guidelines even if they were nailed to their office wall? Consider partly locked templates. Many solutions offer templates where you can choose which elements are non-negotiable (like your logo and font) and which can be modified by the end user. Very handy for a unified style but a customized message.

Strengthen Your Thought Leadership

Problem: Your company needs to keep up a constant flow of content that shows your audience that you are a thought leader, on top of your game, and the number 1 resource to follow when it comes to your market. Your brand is not just about immaculate looks, you also emit your brand persona and your values with everything you say. And scaling content is crucial for getting your message to the right people.

Action: If you are not looking to solve this challenge by hiring more writers (and scaling your content costs) might I suggest setting your sights on how to improve efficiency in content operations? Because there is no magic bullet to creating in-depth original content that is timely and exciting. This always takes time. But what most brand and marketing managers don’t realize is just how much time we spend on approval workflows, back-and-forth messaging to find an image or visual to a piece that is ready to publish, and so on.

Most of a marketer’s workday actually goes to coordinating, updating, downloading, sharing, etc., you get the gist. By checking and streamlining your content processes and integrating your content tools, you can save hours every day that can be put back in to developing new material for your audience.

Deepen Your Partner Relationships

Problem: Companies opting for a stability focus on their brand management strategy usually have many partners like agencies, resellers, solution partners, PR offices, distributors, or others of the like. These external contributors are essential to the business, but they feel like they are treated like an afterthought. They are always the last ones to get their requests heard. Giants like DAF share that their partners are desperate for support when it comes to marketing the brand.

Action: Most tools and solutions don’t just have to benefit your internal team. With the appropriate user rights management, you can give your external partners access to marketing materials that are relevant for them. Make sure that all your marketing content, images, videos, are stored in the proper way so your partners don’t have to opt for Googling your logo to find the right files.

Combine this with the locked templates from above, you are enabling partners to both find what they are looking for with ease and help them create professional quality brochures, banners, and other materials without any design skills. As an added bonus, you will be able to see how your materials are being used and how popular different images or other assets are and where they are used.

Focus on growth

All of the tips from above can also be useful for a brand that is focusing on growth rather than stability. But maintaining consistency or helping your partners promote your brand are not necessarily the first areas to prioritize if you are unknown to your audience or if you are just starting up and have few partners. However, it’s always easier to get the foundation right for the future when your team is still small or easy to manage.

Achieving brand consistency, for example, is a lot of work once every office, region, team, and partner has their own (wrong) way of doing things. Now, let’s have a look at some of the brand management focus points for growing businesses:

Brand awareness

Problem: How can you make your brand more visible? Brand awareness fosters loyalty. The more people recognize your brand, the more likely they’ll buy your products or services. To get a buzz going about your company, you need to become more recognizable.

Action: I hate being a broken record, but you need to keep consistency in mind here. No matter how great your campaigns are, who you get to be a guest on your podcast, or how many swanky ads you create, if your style, tone of voice, and messaging is not spot on every time, you will not build awareness.

Pick your communications channels carefully and don’t try to do everything at once. Be consistent with both your content, look, and schedule. Don’t try to sell your product/service right off the bat. Instead, listen to what your target audience wants, provide free value resources and show your worth before asking for things in return.

Brand trust

Problem: Your competitors are showing off logos of top companies on their website and sharing numbers on how valuable their solution is for their customers. But if you are new to the game, and don’t yet have what your competitors have, how can you show prospects that you are the one to go for? You need to create trust for your brand, and you need to do it quick.

Action: Trust is a human feeling, so it makes sense that speaking to another human directly provides a powerful trust-building opportunity. Things like in-person events, customer video calls, and in-store interactions can all help build trust. Put real faces on your website and show visitors who they are going to do business with. Craft an open and honest about us page where you share your story and showcase the team. Check that your employees have a picture of themselves in their email signature. Respond to feedback and social media comments quickly. And don’t forget to apologize if you’ve made a mistake.

How Tech Can Help with a Brand Management Strategy

You absolutely can manage all the target areas of your brand management strategy manually. But it will take a lot of effort and time, which in most cases is exactly what you are trying to save. There are a variety of branding tools that can help with any single problem listed above. If you are so lucky that you are not struggling with more than one of these themes, well done! A spot solution is the right fit for you. For the most of us, these problems are entangled and would benefit from a dedicated Brand Management Solution that works for your complete brand management strategy, not just some areas of it.

What is a Brand Management Solution?

A Brand Management Solution is a software or platform that helps in managing your brand. The most difficult part of branding is not creating a new one, but managing the brand you’ve established in a consistent and efficient manner, across channels, year after year. A Brand Management Solution is a partner that helps:

  • Securely store, share, and create all your content in one platform — no more duplicates, no more missing files.
  • Make sure your materials are always on-brand
  • Build interactive brand guidelines that are a joy to read (and edit, without creating multiple versions)
  • Connect everyone to your brand

Why Should a Brand Invest in a Brand Management Solution?

Brand management is complicated because it’s a part of your company’s DNA. It’s your story, your product, and your people. It’s how your customers perceive you and why investors believe in you. Branding is not just one department that controls what your logo looks like and defines what your official company colors are. It should be the embodiment of why your company exists.

Branding has been democratized through digital transformation. It’s easy for everyone to share their stories and content about your brand. But companies are struggling to harness this opportunity. They are experiencing more inconsistencies, pressure to scale on-brand content without scaling their costs, and difficulties in communicating their relevance to their target audience.

Top brands win over customers who make repeat purchases not because they have a superior product but because they have a superior brand. They embody something that inspires advocacy and loyalty. And they do so all the time, everywhere. Not just in some regions or via some of their channels. In order to rise to this level, all your stakeholders need to become connected with your brand.

Who Benefits from a Brand Management Solution?

A Brand Management Solution is helpful for all companies that have a brand, care about branding, or want to develop a strong brand. It’s especially necessary for companies that:

  • Are growing (rapidly)
  • Have hundreds or thousands of visuals, marketing and sales materials, and other content
  • Have decentralized marketing teams or multiple regions and offices
  • Work with internal and external partners like agencies, subsidiaries, distributors, resellers

I hope you now have an idea of which aspects of brand management you should make top priority based on your wider goals as a business. The more stakeholders you have, the more difficult it is to manage your brand. This always leads to inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and lowered brand recognition and awareness. A decline in your brand value is directly linked to customer retention, employee turnover, and lower revenue. It’s important to put effort into creating a deliberate brand management strategy so that all the work you put into building a brand is not for nothing.

Would you like to learn more about how brand management solutions work with the help of practical use cases? Check out this white paper!

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