Being a Brand Manager is a demanding job even at the best of times. Whether your brand is emerging, established or fighting for its place on the world stage, there are many areas you must consider to ensure brand strategy is effectively activated, developed, monitored, maintained and driven in the right direction.
If the global pandemic has taught us anything in marketing it’s that in order to thrive, brands need to be prepared for anything.
Every organisation should already have a brand management strategy where it belongs – right at the top of the corporate agenda, and marketers need to be ready for any eventuality. Brand management should be framed as a continual process of constant evolution – agile and responsive to global and competitive factors.
Brand identity is the most fundamental consumer touchpoint for your business and 77% of marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. Your brand is your reputation, and therefore the most important asset your company has. If you’re authentic and keep your promises, and if your customers have positive experiences, they will tell other people. If they have a bad experience, you can be sure they will tell the world.
So when it comes to establishing a successful brand activation strategy and brand development process, what does an effective process look like? And what does being prepared actually mean in practice?
First, you need to create a plan that prepares you to overcome any obstacles and challenges which may lie ahead. We believe the best approach to creating or enhancing a successful branding process is as follows.
Step 1: Establish the foundations of your brand identity
Brand identity is about more than just logo, font, and colours. It’s a unique, consistent customer experience of an organisation’s purpose, voice, visual style, and vision. Consistency is especially important during times of change, when customers are looking for stability and trust.
A useful starting point is to think about your current brand asset management processes and identify the key challenges you need to overcome. This is a critical element of the entire process as it will also establish the groundwork for measuring your brand development success further down the line.
Start by listing the issues and problems faced by the organisation with regards to brand management. Look closely at the challenges faced by your marketing department:
The ability to remain consistent:
- Colleagues and local offices are struggling to access the latest branded materials resulting in off-brand assets and communications are regularly being distributed.
Lack of resources:
- Your marketing team is struggling to deliver requests on-demand. There is simply not enough time to support ad-hoc tasks and you fall behind, unable to deliver brand assets on time.
- Budget cuts are not uncommon, and sometimes you are forced to cancel or limit brand campaigns.
Challenges staying relevant in the market:
The market changes fast, and if you’re already struggling with the above, your ability to remain relevant is a major challenge.
Next up is to analyse your current brand environment. New brands have the luxury of starting from scratch, but if you’ve been in the market for a while and the brand has stagnated, you need to know why. Key questions to consider include:
How loyal is your customer target group?
- What elements does your group focus on when choosing a brand? Price, quality, purchase locality, etc. can all be factors in this decision-making process.
Is your brand perceived as it was intended to be?
- Is your brand clearly understood and are you delivering on your promise?
What’s the competition?
- Who are they and how well is their brand resonating with their audience? Know what you are up against and understand how to get in front.
How do you reach your target group? In store? Online?
- You need to be where your customers are, so make sure you know where that is.
What is the length of the buying decision process?
- If the purchase decision is made in store, you need to plan on how to convince and build-up brand recognition that puts you in front of your competitors. If the decision process is long and requires research, you need to plan on how you can help them decide and take part in their purchase cycle.
It’s important that these and many more questions are considered before you move on to deciding what branding and identity development strategy to choose.
Step 2: Optimise your brand strategy to ensure growth
There is no exact timetable to determine how regularly you should optimise your brand strategy. It’s a good idea to be constantly vigilant about your brand’s overall health and identity, always keeping in mind customer feedback, employee morale and the business’ growth trajectory.
When feedback, morale and/or growth aren’t where you want them to be, it’s a good time to take a step back and assess things. Taking the time to check the current strengths and weaknesses of your brand while evaluating where you want to go will only serve to strengthen your positioning. A brand asset audit is a useful exercise to conduct regularly.
An audit could include the following inventory:
- Visual identity
- Colour scheme
- Brand marketing templates
A strong brand is the foundation upon which the business stands, which means it must always be firm and resolute. While a solid product or service remains the core of your business, few customers will take the time to explore your offering if there isn’t a confident and credible brand to back it.
Knowing exactly what your brand’s messaging is and what it stands for is crucial, and having a coherent strategy to communicate that to prospective customers and clients will propel future success.
Step 3: Identify your brand’s development metrics
When you’re ready to execute your brand activation, make sure you have the necessary KPIs in place so you can measure your success based on facts instead of your gut feeling.
There is a significant amount of value in your strategic brand management process, but how do you accurately determine how much? Set KPIs that can measure the situation before and after activation. Consider these examples:
As initially stated, consistency is key to brand growth, but your current state is showing that local offices are repeatedly using the wrong logo.
- Strategy goal: Secure brand consistency
- KPI: All local offices should within 3 months use the correct logo according to brand guidelines.
Regardless of how much you try, you simply do not have enough resources and time to deliver brand assets on-demand and you lose out on brand presence. Yet brand growth is dependent on your ability to be visible in the market.
- Strategy goal: Secure brand presence
- KPI: No backlog of requests. Respond to requests within the same working day.
Growing a brand demands focus. However, current status shows that you are constantly spending your time on ad-hoc and repetitive tasks, meaning your time for value-added brand work is reduced.
- Strategy goal: Enable self-serviced brand assets
- KPI: Eliminate requests for existing assets.
Tracking your brand KPIs can help validate everything you do as a marketing professional. Thanks to the countless tracking tools available today, businesses have the opportunity to gain more visibility over their marketing efforts and the continual progression of their brand than ever before. Get to know your marketing failures and fix them. Get to know your marketing successes and highlight them.
Supporting your branding process
By following the three steps outlined above, your branding process will be more robust and capable of supporting the constant evolution and progression that every brand goes through in order to survive and thrive.
But this is only the beginning – there is a lot more ground to cover. For more on enhancing brand management in your organisation, check out our whitepaper on the value of an investment in your brand.
Take your branding process further with BAM by Papirfly™
Once you have a process and strategy in place to maintain your brand strength and security as it develops and evolves over time, it’s crucial that this is consistently applied across all marketing channels. This is where Brand Activation Management, or BAM by Papirfly™, will make a big difference for your brand.
With BAM you can confidently streamline processes that accommodate multi-channel asset production to support building brand awareness and the efforts of multiple teams.
BAM provides a single online destination for your global employees dedicated to preserving, protecting and propelling your brand. Teams can produce studio-standard marketing materials from bespoke templates, store, share and adapt them for their own markets and stay firmly educated on the brand’s purpose, guidelines and evolution – with no agency help necessary.
Whilst improving your workflows creates more time and saves money as internal bottlenecks are eliminated, relying less on external agencies and reducing time wasted on back and forth approval processes makes bringing asset creation in-house an appealing choice.
Start empowering your team with BAM by Papirfly™ – request a demo today.