Introducing Marketing Mike, a mid-level marketing and media specialist at Adaptive Media, a global health and wellness firm. Marketing Mike tries his best to perform his job efficiently and competently in today’s ever-evolving marketing landscape, but often times makes questionable choices that can be harmful to his company’s brand. As part of an ongoing blog series, each month we’ll take a look at the adventures of Marketing Mike and the challenges that come with brand management and digital marketing on a global scale. This post will focus on the do’s and don’ts of serving as your own makeshift designer and the unintended consequences this can have on brand identity.
Eager to promote an upcoming networking event, Marketing Mike requests email templates, social media sharecards, event pamphlets, and an email signature to ensure the event is a success. But because Adaptive Media’s design team is so overloaded with other projects, he forgoes the firm’s design request process and decides to create the marketing assets himself. He quickly puts the event collateral together using random icons, improper logo colors, and a peculiarly large font size. From off-brand stock photography in the event pamphlets to neglecting the use of the proper logo design, the event assets begin to quickly drift from Adaptive Media’s unique brand identity, jeopardizing the company’s reputation at an event with current and prospective clientele.
The predicament of maintaining a consistent brand identity is one that all organizations must be aware of. While employees like Marketing Mike are usually well-intentioned and don’t want to burden their design team, designing assets themselves without following brand guidelines can slowly but surely erode brand consistency. And with an increasing number of distribution channels and high volumes of content, it’s becoming more difficult (and important) to guard the company’s valuable branding.
So, what are the dangers of brand inconsistency? Well, recognizable companies are built through the consistent delivery of their brand promise. It’s how they build strong relationships with their clientele and develop a positive reputation. By knowing exactly what to expect from an organization’s products or services and what they stand for, customers establish a certain level of trust with the company. The second that an organization’s target audience senses a deviation from the normal brand messaging, they begin to question the brand’s integrity. Eventually, these deviations can cost the company its hard-earned brand equity and market position.
As we’ve mentioned before, the secret strategy to maintaining brand equity lies within its brand identity. All organizations need an identity, and brand equity is an indispensable element of it seeing as how it encompasses the perceived value of the brand. When it comes to building strong brand equity and recognition, there are three key strategies organizations should follow to be successful in their endeavor.
Brand design is a huge driver of brand identity. It’s what customers look for when they’re browsing online and select a brand’s product to place in their shopping cart among a sea of competing products. These visuals establish a feel for a given brand and create a customer experience that’s completely unmatched. Once an audience becomes familiar with these elements, they will forever associate them with a brand’s identity.
For this reason, consistent branding materials are crucial when it comes to complying with brand standards, upholding brand design, and maintaining a competitive advantage in any market. That’s why a centralized design/creative team should always be the gatekeeper for any marketing asset baring a brand’s logo—it’s all too easy for a lone marketer like Mike to slip up and cause some serious brand discrepancies and create confusion among customers. A self-service tool like project management and digital asset management (DAM) could also help mitigate these issues. With the help of a digital asset management solution, a design or marketing team can consolidate their brand’s design guidelines and assets in one place, which can serve as a single source of truth for designers and marketers alike.
Brand guidelines tell everyone in an organization—from entry-level marketers to graphic designers to C-level executives—exactly how they’re supposed to communicate the brand to the world through both visual elements (logo, typeface, color palette, photography) and narrative elements (tone, POV) reflected in things like a brand’s story, buyer personas, external comms, and more. To ensure these guidelines are hammered home, organizations should train employees on them using tactics like webinars or on-sites workshops. These techniques can help train employees on how their organization’s brand guidelines can be employed both effectively and appropriately.
When everyone in an organization is communicating what the company stands for in a consistent way, this prevents audiences from feeling confused or potentially alienated. By ensuring that employees are all telling the same story when it comes their organization, customers are guaranteed to have a consistent experience that’s wholly unique to one specific brand. What’s more, they’ll simultaneously become powerful brand ambassadors to help advocate and spread a brand’s story and mission statement.
To ensure that brand design and brand guidelines are used and maintained across the entire organization, enlisting the help of digital asset management software can be extremely helpful. It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect corporate identity and brand consistency while ensuring legal compliance through the use of approved marketing assets. Advanced digital asset management systems act as a central repository where organizations can store all of their marketing assets and provide controlled access to employees 24/7. So, users have the ability to customize their assets without fear of being non-compliant by locking down specific content fields while allowing other content fields to be edited.
For example, an employee could have access to a brochure template, but will be unable to edit the font, text size, or brand colors. With the ability to customize a piece of marketing on the fly, users like Marketing Mike are no longer tempted to turn into DIY designers. Branded materials are secured, ensuring consistency for the customer.
Stay tuned to The MarcomCentral Blog for future misadventures from Marketing Mike. And to learn more about how digital asset management systems can help make marketing easier, check out our own solutions offerings.