What Is Brand Management?
Your brand is much more than your name or logo; it’s a multi-layered identity. It makes you unique from other companies in your category and easily recognizable to your audience. Your brand communicates what you stand for and influences how people perceive your products before they ever touch them.
But, just like human bodies, brands are fragile. You need to deliver consistency, quality, and a positive experience at every touchpoint to impact and grow valuable relationships with your customers. One wrong image, blog post, or social media comment can put your brand’s reputation at risk. If done right, you can build brand awareness, strengthen brand equity, ensure brand consistency, and nurture brand loyalty.
That’s why companies of all sizes adopt brand management practices to build, control, and safeguard their company’s narrative.
What is brand management?
Brand management is the practice of creating, maintaining, and optimizing how a company communicates its values, personality, and products to the world. Marketers and creative organizations use brand management software to ensure that internal and external teams represent the brand with consistent messaging and imagery.
Your brand is the combination of every single interaction someone has with your company. Each logo seen, marketing message consumed, or product used at home – the way these experiences influence how a person feels about you is what composes your brand. The end goal of brand management is to mold the perception that people have of your brand. Ideally, they’re telling your story to their friends in their own words or recommending your products.
Many marketers struggle with brand management because brands are intangible and expressed across so many different contexts. Trade shows, storefronts, digital ads, websites, and social media channels all need to present a consistent brand front, and that’s no easy challenge. Many of those components span departments and teams, which means internal and external partners are all trying to represent your brand at once. A lot can go wrong. But when you understand how brand management works and have the right tools, it’s easier for everyone to collaborate and get it right.
How does brand management work?
Your company is a living, breathing entity. And while your organization grows and changes, your brand needs to evolve with it. Brand relaunches, new logos, updated visual identities – these are all expected when you have a healthy brand.
Your brand is a complex organism all on its own. It develops from many layers of visuals, photo styles, brand colors, and typography. It’s molded by voice, language, and tone, and managing it means ensuring every layer is consistently represented across the entire omnichannel experience.
Brand management drives results when you have the right brand strategy, tools, safeguards, and processes in place to consistently deliver a positive brand experience across each channel and customer touchpoint.
On any given day, there are creators, partners, marketers, salespeople, and more who “touch” your brand. They could be adding a new product to your website or drafting a social media post for Instagram. Brand management gives you control over every aspect of your brand experience, no matter who’s distributing its brand assets. For example, you can manage the logo file that everyone has access to and make sure it’s up-to-date and sized correctly.
Brand management is like the control center that sits between the brand (or rather, all the elements that define the brand) and the world. Every lever pulled, dial twisted, word changed, image tweaked, video posted — it’s all connected to the control center. Brand management lets you monitor and maintain every aspect of your brand as it’s built, rebuilt, and refreshed. The right brand management tools help you achieve the coveted staples of brand management: awareness, equity, consistency, and loyalty.
The principles of brand management
Successful brand management has a lot to do with a company’s ability to achieve four key elements: brand awareness, brand equity, brand consistency, and brand loyalty. Unlike a brand’s logo or colors, these elements aren’t as easy to spot but are instead felt. They’re the results of a well-managed brand — and often the driving motivation behind why companies adopt brand management practices.
Brand awareness is a measure of how familiar consumers are with a company’s brand. It’s a spectrum that ranges from simple name recognition to an audience’s knowledge of a brand’s products, services, reputation, and values. Brand awareness is often considered an early step in a customer’s path to conversion.
Brand equity is the value consumers assign to a brand based on their experiences, perceptions, and associations with it. A company with strong brand awareness may have more brand equity because consumers tend to trust brands they recognize over those they don’t.
Consistency in the use of names, logos, slogans, designs, and other attributes associated with a company or product leads to a dependable brand experience. Along with emotional elements, like photography and videos, brand consistency establishes and nurtures relationships with consumers. The better the relationship, the better the brand recognition. The more consistent the presentation, the easier it is to recognize a brand from its logo, colors, typography, content, tone of voice, and messaging.
Brand loyalty refers to a consumer’s unwavering support and allegiance for a brand. Brand loyalty is a result of strong brand equity. If a consumer values a brand, they’re more likely to purchase its products or services regardless of convenience, price, or options. Because they trust the brand, they trust what that brand is selling.
Who needs brand management?
Organizations of all kinds benefit from adopting brand management practices. After all, it’s often these trusty processes, strategies, and safeguards that prevent distorted images, off-brand messaging, and outdated illustrations from eroding a brand’s integrity.
But managing a brand manually is tough. That’s why many brand management strategies today involve the use of technologies like a digital asset management (DAM) solution that streamline operations and help organizations control their assets and how they’re used. The benefits are wide-reaching, but here’s how we’re seeing certain roles and user types benefit from our solution, Acquia DAM (Widen).
Brand managers try to strike a balance between fostering creativity and protecting their brand. With a digital asset management (DAM) solution, they can publish brand guidelines, assign projects to creatives, and manage feedback and approvals all in one platform. This eliminates the chance that off-brand, unfinished assets get loose on the web.
Creators lose time (and sanity) to endless email chains that make a mess of version control and team feedback. With a DAM platform, creators have a central repository for their files. There’s never a question of which files are the most recent, and they can access assets stored in the DAM system directly inside their go-to creative tools. Come review time, approvers are notified and feedback is gathered in one central feed. The result is fewer rounds of revisions, faster approvals, and brand-safe content.
Marketing executives want to oversee the brand without micromanaging it. A DAM solution enables them to do that. Executives can view what everyone is creating, where projects stand, and how assets perform. This knowledge helps them decide what content to invest in next and how much to budget. In addition, DAM tools track image usage rights to prevent expensive lawsuits, which anyone will agree is a very good thing.
Which brand assets require management?
Simply put, all of them. A brand asset is a tangible file or resource that helps organizations tell their story and establish or nurture their brand’s identity with the outside world. From images and videos to guidelines and rules, brand assets include a variety of formats and types. Below are the main components you need to supervise.
A brand identity kit includes all the information and tools anyone needs to represent your brand consistently. It’s similar to brand guidelines — it could even include a short version of your brand guidelines — but they’re not the same. Brand guidelines give directions on how to communicate your brand in written, visual, and audio form while a brand identity kit focuses on the visual elements only.
It includes a high-level overview of a brand’s visual identity, along with the rules and information about how to use and where to find logos, wordmarks, brand colors, fonts, and more. But this is just scratching the surface. If you want to know what to include, here’s a guide to building your brand identity kit.
Images and video content
You need more than a logo to represent a digital brand, and it’s likely you have a number of visual elements (including video) to manage. Graphics, images, and videos are powerful branding tools that can illustrate your brand values and communicate a story.
Your graphics can be standalone assets like a diagram or chart and are often used to create other content, like slide presentations, web pages, and other collateral. Photos are either proprietary assets obtained via a company-procured photographer or licensed assets acquired through a stock photography site. Once a luxury to produce, videos have now officially entered the mainstream thanks to powerful pocket-sized video cameras (hello, cell phone) and more user-friendly and affordable video creation and editing tools.
Together, these three types of brand assets make up the majority of the brand files organizations need to manage. If they’re not organized and easy to locate, employees will struggle to find what they need and may end up making do with outdated videos, off-brand photos, and fuzzy graphics that they can access.
Social media assets
Social media assets are everything you need to manage your company’s social media presence — page header images, profile photos, and more. Your followers (and even paid influencers) share content and opinions that play a part in molding audience perceptions of your company. Managing the social media assets your influencers have access to will help present your audience with a consistent experience.
Managing all of these social media assets is a lot of work, but a brand management tool — like a DAM system — prevents outdated, low-quality, or unapproved assets from popping up on Facebook, Instagram, or other channels.
Brand guidelines are the standards and rules you can develop and use to maintain brand consistency across touchpoints. With guidelines in place, companies can ensure that anyone who communicates (written, verbal, or visual) on behalf of the brand gets it right.
Brand guidelines touch a lot of different areas, offering a framework for handling everything from brand voice, tone, and sentiment to color, font, logo, image, and graphic usage. At the end of the day, a company’s brand is their greatest asset — and brand guidelines play a pivotal role in the quest to build and protect it.
The benefits of effective brand management
Before our world became so relentlessly digital, managing brands was easier because there were fewer touchpoints. Fast forward to today, and organizations must now find better, more organized, and productive ways to manage their omnipresent brands.
Having software that supports that management process can benefit your business in many ways:
- Consistent brand identity across social, web, event, and sales channels with centralized brand guidelines and approved assets.
- Easy sharing of approved brand assets using portals to group and distribute guidelines, logos, colors, testimonials, and content via a simple link (that’s right, no coding required).
- Organized review and approval processes with proofing workflows and notifications so creators can produce better content in fewer drafts.
- On-brand templates that save designers time by empowering sales teams to customize content for their market or region.
- Insight into brand strengths and weaknesses with content analytics that reveal which assets collaborators use, where they appear, and how audiences engage with them.
- A protected brand with version control, asset expiration dates, and image rights management to ensure only the right brand asset is used.
- Workflow efficiency through system integrations that allow organizations to connect their go-to technologies for on-demand access to the most up-to-date brand assets.
Where to go from here
Your brand is one of your company’s most valuable assets even if it’s one of the most subjective and hard to quantify. With a commitment to the practice of brand management and the right tools, you can create a consistent brand experience, build brand awareness, strengthen brand equity, and grow brand loyalty. You can improve creative and marketing workflow efficiency, create a strong brand identity, and protect your brand all at the same time.
Acquia’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP) includes many enterprise tools you can leverage to support brand management including a customer data platform (CDP), personalization tools, campaign management software, and a DAM solution. Request, watch, or click through a demo today to learn more and take control of your brand narrative.
Note: This article was originally published on Widen.com.