With branding, few things are more important than consistency. Seize your authority and enforce correct brand usage across your organization; grant power to your full service marketing firm to help you.
A brand is an intangible asset. It is created through a myriad of customer touch points developed over a span of time. Brands require nurturing to maintain and can often become a company’s most valuable asset.
With such high value on an asset, you as a brand steward need to maximize your authority within your organization to enforce and uphold your branding. When non-marketing staff are engaged in company business impacting the brand, they should be monitored and guided in much the same way a legal department concerns itself with the company’s business.
In my years of experience I’ve been witness to countless instances of client brands being misused by internal staff. Often through a lack of knowledge of the brand standard, but also simply out of apathy.
Here are my recommendations for helpful solutions that aren’t overly burdensome on your coworkers:
1. Start by sharing your brand standard with your entire company. If you don’t have a formalized document, you should request that your marketing firm create one for you. You’ve likely been following your own rules and not needed to spell everything out, but you’re going to need to in order to maintain control.
2. Designate a central location for branding and marketing information to reside. Your brand standard should reside on your company’s intranet or shared network drive that’s accessible by all staff. If remote locations aren’t networked, share a copy with each location’s manager.
3. Create an asset library. To further equip your coworkers with the tools they need, you should create and maintain an asset library in the same location your brand standard resides. This can be structured in a number of ways, but your asset library should contain your current logo, approved product images and even some basic messaging documents like your current press release boilerplate. File nomenclature should be established to reduce confusion, for example: “CompanyLogo-EmailSignatureVersion-200px-082913.png” Provide logo and images in formats suitable for presentations, e-mails, printing, etc.
4. Maintain up-to-date assets and insist that all staff reference the library each time they need materials. I’ve found it helpful to put processes in place where the agency outputs new files at the completion of each project for the asset library. We also incorporate a monthly review of the asset library into our schedule. By removing dated materials and adding new, you can avoid many common pitfalls that arise from the use of old or incorrect files.
5. Communicate routinely. Be sure to inform your company of updates in your brand standard or asset library. This can be via company-wide e-mail, as part of a regular feature in an internal newsletter, on an intranet home page, or other media that’s appropriate for your particular company. Be sure to also invite questions from all staff and include your direct line and/or e-mail address. An open door policy on branding keeps you from being viewed as the bad guy.
6. Be the Sheriff. Do not tolerate off-brand activities. You’re the brand sheriff, so act like one and feel free to be a bit nosy. Check in on the HR department to be sure job postings don’t have out-dated logos. Ensure technical or engineering staff isn’t publishing user manuals or support literature that’s not properly branded. Be watchful for administrative and support staff who may be tasked with sourcing holiday cards. I’ve seen my client’s brands misused in each of these scenarios, and more. If you encounter incorrect brand usage, step up and correct it. It’s your duty.
7. Rely on your agency partner as your Deputy. Give your agency the access and authority to monitor your brand image on an ongoing basis. Let them fix what needs fixing and to call you, the Sheriff, when they discover an issue above their pay grade.
Active monitoring of your brand will pay dividends. If you encounter push back from your superiors or other department heads in your role as sheriff, take the opportunity to educate them on the value of your brand. Being your brand’s steward is not your only job, but it is arguably one of the most important. And remember, you’re not going this alone; lean on your agency for support, that’s what they’re there for and as a partner, they are invested in your success.