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5 Steps to Cohesive Brand Management

By: Jody Scheldt, Marketing Manager, 11/29/17

The realm of marketing assets can often feel like the “wild west,” where documents and digital assets are scattered around shared folders and desktops, in multiple formats, versions, and channels, while employees who have gone rogue create non-compliant, unapproved assets to satisfy their immediate needs.

It’s creative chaos.

Steps to cohesive brand

This type of anarchic environment can wreak havoc on a brand, especially when every touchpoint a customer has with an organization affects their overall brand perception. Brand management is a critical part of maintaining corporate identity, integrity, and trust.

As Rachael Silva, Director of Creative Services at the New York Public Library said on a recent webinar, “A brand is much more than just the visual identity, it’s the sum of the look, the feel, and the voice of the organization, which transfers to people’s experiences and the perception they have of the organization. We’re creating impressions and experiences through the materials we create. All of those things together make up how someone feels about your brand.”

The story of The New York Public Library should be an inspiration to marketing teams around the world. They were able to address this issue with brand management software, shifting from the “wild west” approach of creating new marketing assets, to a standardized system of accessing properly branded content. The result? Less burden on branch managers when they developed new marketing assets, and a more consistent brand message from all locations.

Here’s the 5 steps they took to cohesive brand management:

  1. Perform an audit of marketing assets used at multiple branches

    The team started by engaging with staff and leadership of the various branch locations in their large system. They wanted to better understand their needs, identify current touchpoints with external audiences, and determine where resources may be required.

    Their audit found a lack of brand consistency from one branch to another, and although the organization needed to keep a sense of local community, they had to maintain a consistent brand experience overall.

    The audit was a critical starting point as they learned they had a strong brand reputation, but complex and fragmented identity.

  2. Launch a brand refresh

    Once the audit was complete, the team took a focused look at the overall brand identity. Without changing the core and well-known logo of the Library, this firm needed to define a consistent identity, look and feel across all materials.

    They established guiding principles that all materials should reflect, based on what the Library stands for: “Welcoming, knowledgeable, inspiring, and dynamic.” This consistent design framework was the foundation upon which they then built core brand guidelines.

  3. Establish a brand guide

    To ensure employees and vendors (such as freelance designers or architects) were brand compliant, this team developed easy-to-use tools and resources. They ensured the guide had detailed insights including examples.

    But, the guidelines themselves are not enough to keep employees coming back. The team wanted to bring this brand guide to life for the day-to-day use of each team member.

  4. Launch a portal for brand management

    The team wanted to create more than a brand center, but instead enable the team with a resource where they could use tools and create assets in a dynamic way. They partnered with MarcomCentral to launch a robust online brand resource center, seeking to empower staff, create efficient workflows, and establish reporting tools to ensure compliance and usage.

    A major component of this employee-facing tool was the dynamic template feature that enabled 2400+ employees to create customized assets while remaining brand compliant. This brand management portal also featured easy navigation and search functionality to allow employees to quickly find certain assets (preventing them from asking the centralized marketing department for one-off requests.) In addition, it streamlined image discovery, signage guidelines, logo usage and much more.

  5. Get employees on board with a training program

    The team knew it was important for employees to understand the value of this brand management tool. They embarked on an engagement process to increase adoption and make sure the tool was successful. This involved training, education (such as a short overview video), and empowering staff to explore the tool, find what they need, and realize quick time-to-value.

    The engagement plan included five components:

    1. Listening – Sharing the findings of the brand audit report and generating excitement about the forthcoming tools and resources.
    2. Testing – Garnering feedback from core users to identify changes necessary for adoption
    3. On-boarding – Presenting the brand refresh and technology to executive leadership and on-the-ground managers tailored to their business point of view
    4. Training – Offering multiple training sessions in classrooms and on WebEx conferences.
    5. Retention –  Setting up a feedback chain to respond to issues, questions, and needs, while continuously developing new resources to encourage repeat visits.

We celebrate the hard work of the New York Public Library team, who embarked on this 5-phased journey across 3 years, 92 locations, 3 boroughs and thousands of employees. For such a notable and respected organization, brand management is a critical part of protecting and optimizing not only the customer’s brand experience, but also the legacy of such an important institution.

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