Brand Governance: Key Principles for Managing Your Company Image
What does brand governance mean to you? If your answer involves conforming to strict style rules, you may need to update your expectations. In the past, effective brand management was all about plastering marketing collateral in company logos and abiding by restrictive color schemes. Today, however, the practice is less prescriptive.
Read on to find out how to manage your brand in today's competitive marketing landscape.
What does brand governance mean today?
Today, maintaining a slick brand is a collaborative effort. Instead of relying on the expertise of a dedicated brand governance team, you should be listening to the advice of influential stakeholders, employees, freelance design teams, and customers to ensure your company image remains stylish and compelling.
Don't worry – this doesn't mean you have to let go of your company's signature esthetic or values. Rather, it means adapting to current circumstances in innovative ways. Such flexibility could involve, for example, collecting customer feedback or encouraging collaboration between your marketing team and senior executives.
How to protect your brand's essential spirit
Striking a balance between brand stability and adaptability can be tricky. Go too far one way or the other, and you risk alienating your customer base.
To protect the essence of your brand, you must first establish its non-negotiable elements. These could include:
- Pre-set color schemes for certain company materials
- A central motto
- Your commitments to particular projects or causes
- Popular special offers or customer commitments
- Restrictions surrounding what kinds of images you're willing to use
Remember to give these short guidelines to project managers and creative freelancers before they embark on new jobs, as this will ensure your brand never strays from its core principles.
Eight principles of brand management
So, once your expectations are in place, how should you go about implementing them while encouraging innovation? We've listed some guidelines to help you out:
1. Assess the strength of your collaborative processes
When collaborating with third parties on a project, you may discover they have very different ways of doing things. Don't despair – map your current collaborative processes and identify ways to boost their efficiency. Questions to consider could include:
- How will you reconcile knowledge gaps?
- How should you review and approve outsourced branded collateral?
- How will international teams organize their workload and operating between time zones?
Try to identify cost-saving opportunities when refining your collaboration processes and don't be afraid of writing detailed, challenging briefs.
2. Implement thorough training processes
When onboarding new team members, educate them about your brand identity and strategy. Training sessions could include information about your company's origins, your brand's tone of voice, and any initiatives with which the business is currently involved.
3. Enlist your governance team as brand custodians
While your governance team shouldn't be policing every minor detail of your brand identity, they should offer advice to creatives regarding how to experiment with your corporate image. Members of the governance team should also ensure branding guidelines are easily accessible.
4. Provide adequate technologies and tools
Effective brand management doesn't just require creative thinkers and innovators – it involves careful investment in tools and technologies to support asset creation, smooth workflow, and collaboration. Consider whether your brand governance toolkit requires expansion or adjustment and make necessary changes.
5. Craft clear guidelines
Your employees and outsourced creatives need to know what kind of artistic liberties are permitted when designing brand materials. In this way, you must produce clear, concise, and easily accessible guidelines.
Brand management guidelines will help everyone from new starters to press teams familiarize themselves with your expectations. As a result, they won't feel the need to repeatedly ask for permissions before tweaking branded elements or, even worse, going ahead and having to make revisions.
6. Arrange a logical approvals process
Creative marketing collateral must be reviewed and approved before you unleash it on the public. Failure to implement an approvals process could cause a range of problems from reputational damage to legal trouble. Fortunately, companies now have an array of online proofing platforms at their fingertips. Consult your IT team to come up with a speedy approvals process that incorporates the latest technologies.
7. Be open to new ideas
While your brand guidelines may seem sacrosanct, you must remain open to changing them as trends and fashions move on. If your customer engagement levels start to wane, it may be time to rethink your branding strategy. Gather feedback about what branding elements are well-received and be open to testing new ideas. The results may surprise you.
8. Document the evolution of your brand
Robust governance means closely tracking the evolution of your brand, as this will help you adapt to new challenges and customer demands.
Remember to collect and store key performance indicators (KPIs) such as revenue, brand valuation, sales, customer retention, and reputational status. As time goes by, try to optimize each of these KPIs by updating your governance processes.
It is also a good idea to keep your brand governance assets close to hand at all times. Such assets may include:
- Style guides: These documents should offer instructions about how to visually represent your brand, use an appropriate tone of voice, or advertise specific products. If you sell a range of vastly different goods and services, you may require several tailored style guides.
- Brand guidelines: Again, an overarching guide to your brand strategy will ensure your core values are never compromised.
- Web guidelines: Web developers often ask for detailed guidelines to ensure branded sites maintain consistency and coherency. Elements to focus on may include fonts, button shapes, navigation rules, SEO tips, and more.
Don't hesitate – get on top of brand governance today!
The field of brand governance has changed in recent years to embody a more flexible approach to identity management. While relinquishing control over your brand's image may feel scary, it represents one of the best ways to remain competitive across a broad range of industries. The world and its people are constantly changing, after all, so why shouldn't your brand?