If customer recognition, trust (and of course, sales) – are all on the increase, these are usually signs that your branding efforts are heading in the right direction. But of course, none of this just happens.
Your “brand” exists not in your shared drive or your business plan but in the minds of your customers. At heart, it’s the total of all the interactions a customer has with your business. Your brand takes time and work to build – and once in existence, it deserves protection.
Brand standards are often described as the glue that holds your brand together – and shields it from erosion or dilution. One of the essential parts of the job for any marketing manager involves ensuring that these standards are enforced.
When there are just a handful of people involved in the production of brand content, this ‘enforcement’ role is usually easily manageable. But as your business grows and as more people (e.g., branch marketers and agencies) become involved in content distribution and adaptation, keeping track of everything can be a frustrating challenge.
Here’s a closer look at why strong brand standards are a must – and at the tools you can use to aid enforcement.
Why brand standards are important:
The last thing you need is to plow lots of resources into planning and creating a brand – only to watch it become diluted along the way. Your standards are key to stopping that from happening.
Perhaps their most important purpose is to ensure consistent messaging. In each interaction with your customers across every channel, your brand voice needs to be put across clearly and consistently. Your brand standards need to include the set of key messages you want used to represent your brand, together with guidelines on language and tone of voice.
Your standards should also set out the visual elements of your brand, such as the use of imagery and logos. Most companies aim to achieve instant recognition in the eyes of customers. As such, it is usual to place key visual elements (the logo, especially) on lockdown by providing critical instructions on aspects such as size, positioning, fonts, and colors.
Your standards enable each person involved in the content production process to uphold the integrity of your brand in all their work. It gives them a common language as well as a ‘brand bible’ to refer to. With clear standards in place, it can also reduce the need for substantial editing and revision – thereby helping to make the production process more efficient.
With the right templating tools, you can ensure that certain elements of your promotional material is fixed and unchangeable
When standards alone may not be enough:
Brand standards are wonderful in theory – but can be hard to police in practice.
Local marketing is a case in point. As part of a localization strategy, marketers on the ground are actively encouraged to ‘tweak’ or localize global campaigns to make them as relevant and compelling as possible for local audiences. They may even instruct locally based agencies to help them create something extraordinary.
The trouble is, it’s so easy to stray from an adaptation of centrally produced content into outright brand standard infringement. Marketers on the ground may end up routinely breaking the rules without even realizing they are doing anything wrong.
Savvy marketers realize that brand standards are great, but enforcement needs a hand – and this is where technology comes in. With access to a DAM that contains only the most up to date and approved assets, it is easy for whoever is creating material to get hold of the right building blocks for the job, every time.
Even better is a platform that enables marketers in the field to create their own materials using these brand assets – and to do it quickly, simply and without the need for specialist input. Through smart editing functionality, you can be sure that content creators will not be able to stray from the standard. So if you are making greater use of localized campaigns, ‘next-gen’ templating tools should be a top priority.
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