Be a Brand Manager, Not the Brand Police

Do you know how to manage your brand effectively? In this guest blog post, Betsy Bender, Principal of Bender Solutions Group, shares her focus on brand strategy and advisory CMO leadership. Betsy offers her expertise to help organizations differentiate their brand, improve their customer experience, and develop their marketing capabilities to grow their business.

For any marketing group, there must be a leader who has a vision for where the brand is going. But no manager wants to be known as the “brand police.” Brand management is never done. And it’s never done well without leveraging the team’s capabilities to get there. Here are a few tips that work:

Maintain a Comprehensive Brand Guidelines Document

Make this more than specs for the creative team and it will become a go-to resource for brand management as well. Beyond the basics for design, be sure to explain the brand’s core idea, tenets, proof points, positioning, tone, and voice. Include a glossary of preferred terminology and develop a chapter for each marketing channel, noting any exceptions allowed.

It takes time and resources to create and maintain, but having a comprehensive Brand Guidelines is key for ensuring consistent representation of the brand across channels and time, and as people on the team come and go. Even seasoned brand managers will find guidance (and inspiration) in this resource. Best of all, it removes personal preference—and policing—from brand management.

Make it a Team Effort

Organize a creative council of representatives from each channel to share and review every piece of creative developed. Sensible exceptions and inspiration for logical changes to brand guidelines will come from this group. You’ll gain buy-in, people will learn from each other, the work will be better, and consistent and/or complementary creative will result from shared input. Now, no one is the cop. Everyone is.

Educate All Content Creators and Approvers

Deputize anyone involved in creating content to be brand stewards: employees, agency partners and consultants—in all functions: marketing, sales, training, benefits, facilities. Create a Brand Essentials seminar with accompanying reference document and conduct it routinely as new players come on board. And don’t forget to include reviewers and approvers of materials, such as Legal, HR and senior managers.

Ensure that every communication touchpoint—internally and externally—is in the brand tone and voice. That means executive speeches, benefits and training materials, signage, packaging, and routine customer communication, not just marketing materials. These all contribute to building brand ambassadors.

Embed the Brand in Employee Culture

Teach employees how to describe the company, what it offers, and how it is different or better. Put an elevator speech on the back of business cards. Create contests and salute employees when they embody the brand through interactions with each other or customers. Allow employees to help choose philanthropic efforts to support, by teaching them selection criteria consistent with your brand.

For more on brand development and leading teams, read Betsy’s blog here.