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How a Brand Center Helped the New York Public Library

How a Brand Center Helped the New York Public Library

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The Challenge

With 92 locations, The New York Public Library found that it was a challenge to centrally managing its brand presence. It was common for staff in local branches to create their own communication materials. “What we found was that there’s not a lot of consistency from one branch to the other,” said Rachael Silva, New York Public Library’s Director of Creative Services. “Everyone has a certain connection with their local library. While we wanted each branch to maintain the individuality of its community, we also wanted to make sure that no matter which location you went to, you still had a feeling of The New York Public Library brand.”

The biggest problem for the branches was the limited resources, budgets, and training, and no standards or policies to prevent people from just creating their own signs and materials with no consistent look and feel. Over time, as is common in many organizations, groups had created their own logos for programs and events. Different, non-compliant logos were appearing that detracted from the identity of the Library’s parent brand. “As a result, a lot of the inconsistent communication was resulting in a cluttered physical space, making it hard to navigate. Materials were kind of competing with one another so everything was trying to stand out and be big and bold,” Silva stated. “The result was a bit of overload, with no core message coming through.”

The Approach

Silva led NYPL’s effort to create a standardized system for easily accessing properly branded content. The right approach would enable branch managers to easily develop new marketing assets while ensuring a consistent brand message from all locations. The earliest stage of creating this system involved looking at the organization’s brand identity. “We knew we had a strong, identifiable logo and we weren’t aiming to change that.,” Silva explained. “We wanted to leverage it by defining a consistent identity, look and feel across all of our materials. But we knew to do that, first, we needed to figure out what are the sort of guiding principles that all of our materials should reflect?”

After clarifying the Library’s brand attributes and core visual identity, Silva and her team knew that they needed more than a paper identity guide. An online brand center would be a resource that staff and others could rely on to find brand tools and assets. “We wanted to make sure that all of those materials that you could find pertaining to the brand were in one place,” continued Silva. “We would still get many requests asking for a logo or a photo, and we wanted to streamline those requests and make it a bit more efficient for us, as well as give others an immediate and reliable resource. In addition to downloadable assets, we created dynamic templates that were easy to use, but strategically kept people coming back to the site. That way we can ensure that they’re not just downloading something and never coming back. We can monitor the use, promote new resources, and make updates whenever needed.”

Why They Chose MarcomCentral

The NYPL brand center became a reality using marketing asset management technology from MarcomCentral. This brand center is fundamentally a place to display NYPL’s brand guidelines for vendors, staff, and others to access, but also much more. Through the brand center, employees can produce custom marketing pieces for their branches. All assets are 100 percent compliant because they are created via pre-approved dynamic choices, including messaging and logos. “The system takes the complicated and sometimes over-done graphic design out of the equation,” Silva described. “And we found staff welcomed the opportunity to create materials quickly without having to know any design software.”

MarcomCentral provided a searchable gallery for NYPL to house images commonly requested, such as branch exteriors and interiors, architectural photos, and photos depicting events and classes. Signage was another big concern for NYPL, and Marcom’s flexibility with building dynamic templates was also important. “Signage can be very costly,” observed Silva. “We weren’t prepared to spend a great deal of money on professionally fabricated signage in all of our branches, so we gave library managers access to signage templates that they could create and print on their own, and with just a few guidelines, produce more professional signs then they would be able to on their own.”

Ultimately, we of course had to show that we were making and impact and having a return on investment,” Silva stated. MarcomCentral enables Silva and the NYPL to track how many assets are being utilized or distributed, and who is using them. Today, the NYPL brand center is successfully addressing the three most common needs it was put in place for: customizing templates, creating signage, and downloading logos and images. “Marcom has a great back end. We were able to make sure that you could search the site for pretty much anything. We’re meticulous about seeking staff feedback and creating new resources that are in demand that make the brand center even more valuable.