By: Leslie Pinkerton, Marketing Content Manager, 4/19/17
Brand inconsistency can impact a lot more than just how a piece of collateral looks. Your brand is the promise you make to the world, and key to earning recognition and awareness. It’s critical to ensure your brand is being used consistently across your entire organization.
The bigger the organization, the more difficult the task.
However, we can learn from the success of organizations and brand managers who are able to keep their brands consistent, even across large, distributed teams of employees and partners. One great example is a notable MarcomCentral client, Orlando Health, a not-for-profit healthcare organization serving over 2 million residents in 4 counties.
Even with over 15,000 employees, vendors, and partners, this healthcare organization was able to implement a robust brand management strategy. They achieved this by developing brand guidelines, brand standards, asset libraries, a designer’s toolkit, copywriting guidelines, and ongoing training for vendors. Read more in their in-depth case study here.
To understand whether or not brand consistency is a challenge – or rather an opportunity – at your organization, ask yourself these five questions:
- When was our last audit?
Depending on the age and size of your organization, you likely have hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of sales and marketing materials being used. When was the last time you audited these materials to ensure old, out-of-date, non-compliant materials were removed from circulation?
- Is our brand eroding?
Out-of-date or non-approved assets do more harm than good. Though they are often created under the best of intentions, these assets actually erode your brand’s value. Typically they’re assembled by rogue employees who need a PowerPoint, poster, product sheet, or other materials – fast. The more these employees get away with creating their own versions of branded materials, the more your brand is exposed to risk of unprofessional or off-brand imagery, copy, logo manipulation, and more.
Offer a dedicated area for brand-approved assets and resources to secure peace of mind that your brand is being represented in a consistent way.
- Are there non-approved vendors creating materials?
Vendors are an extension of your organization. Like employees who go rogue creating unapproved versions of brand materials, vendors who aren’t trained in brand standards or who aren’t equipped with access to the right materials can offer the same risk. They bring no malicious intent (we hope) but rather simply need to be educated on the proper steps to ensure the materials they are using are on brand. Train them on an ongoing basis to ensure they follow brand standards.
- Are team members using old materials?
After major brand updates, product launches, or a shift in messaging, it can be easy for members of the marketing team to miss the latest updates and think they have the most recent material, when they really do not. As strategy evolves, brand materials do as well. Each time you make updates, be sure to have internal communications about brand changes.
- Are non-marketers creating marketing?
Two words. Clip art.
As a marketer, you surely don’t expect your colleagues who are not in marketing to… do marketing. If they do start to create their own assets, they may think clip art is ok to represent your brand (as one example of a common offense). Discourage the practice by responding to the needs of the organization. Make it easy for your teams to create brand consistent flyers, brochures, posters, and more, under the guidelines you set.
Within a tool like MarcomCentral, that strategy is easy with customizable templates and flexible assets on-demand.
Consistent brand management at its best
With MarcomCentral, Orlando Health reduced time to market with communications materials, reduced external expenses, increased staff productivity, and boosted brand integrity. Their creative services team of designers and writers was able to focus on big picture work instead of spending hours creating one time use pieces. Templates were designed thoughtfully to fit the needs of many users and for long term usage.
Orlando Health now has peace of mind that their brand is being represented in the community in a consistent manner. “Freedom with control” is the way they describe the new system, which allows their reputation to continue to excel as the brand continues to grow.