A brand is more than a name on a label or a logo on a website; it’s an identity. It’s what companies use to distinguish themselves from every other business out there. Just as humans embrace a certain style, have a unique personality, and carry themselves in a particular way — everything a brand does, says, and conveys helps define who that company is and what they stand for.
But brands are delicate. Consistency, quality, and the all-around experience a brand delivers impacts customer perceptions. One wrong step and a brand’s reputation is at risk. As a result, companies of all shapes, sizes, and caliber are adopting brand management practices to safeguard their identity and control their company’s narrative.
Table of contents
|What is brand management?|
|Basic principles of brand management|
|How does brand management work?|
|Who needs brand management?|
|Benefits of brand management|
What is brand management?
Brand management is the practice of monitoring, maintaining, and improving how an organization represents their values, personality, and offering to the public. Marketers use brand management software to ensure that their colleagues and external partners represent the brand with consistent messaging and imagery.
A brand is the culmination of every experience a person has with an organization. It’s a set of perceptions fueled by marketing materials, product usage, reviews, personal interaction, news articles, and numerous other touch points. The goal of brand management is to shape and influence the conversations people have with themselves and their friends about an organization.
Marketers struggle with brand management because branding happens in many different contexts. From trade shows, sales meetings, and storefronts to digital ads, social media, and e-commerce, presenting a consistent brand across all fronts is not easy.
Brand management software aims to bring rigor, visibility, and strategy to how companies manage their brand and the digital assets and content that supports it. Widen has been helping businesses care for their brands for over 70 years. Our enterprise brand management platform, the Widen Collective®, is an extension of this care. Today, more than 700 of the world’s most respected brands use our solution to:
Centralize approved brand assets in one place
Control which users can access which assets
Share brand guidelines with creators and partners
Streamline content review and approval
Enforce brand guidelines during new content creation
Curate content and information for sales teams, dealers, partners, and agencies
Localize brand content for different regions and cultures
Evolve brand tactics and strategy based on asset analytics
Extend final creatives and messaging to other everyday tools
Basic principles of brand management
Successful brand management has a lot to do with a company’s ability to achieve three key elements: brand awareness, brand equity, and brand loyalty. Unlike a brand’s logo or colors, customers can’t see these three elements. Rather, these are the results of a well-managed brand — and often the driving motivation behind why companies adopt brand management practices at all.
Brand awareness is a measure of how familiar consumers are with a company’s brand. Brand awareness is a spectrum, ranging from simple name recognition to an audience’s knowledge of a brand’s products, services, reputation, and values. Brand awareness is often considered an early step in a customer’s path to conversion.
Brand equity is the value consumers assign to a brand based on their experiences, perceptions, and associations with it. A company with strong brand awareness may have more brand equity because consumers tend to trust brands they’ve heard of over those they haven’t.
Brand loyalty refers to a consumer’s unwavering support and allegiance for a brand. Brand loyalty is a result of strong brand equity. If a consumer values a brand, they’re more likely to purchase its products or services regardless of convenience, price, or options. Because they trust the brand, they trust what that brand is selling.
How does brand management work?
A brand is a living, breathing entity. As an organization grows and changes, a brand evolves right alongside it. But change aside, brands are pretty complex on their own. They have layer upon layer of tangible and intangible elements that make up their identity. From visuals and typography to voice and language, there’s a deep pool of branding considerations that organizations need to ensure are represented properly across their entire omnichannel experience.
Brand management works by providing companies with the structure, tools, safeguards, and processes needed to control their brand narrative across each and every channel and customer touchpoint. On a given day, there are a lot of people that “touch” a brand — creators, partners, marketers, salespeople, and the list goes on. Brand management gives organizations the control they need to protect their brand wherever (and through whomever) it travels.
Think of brand management as the control center that sits between the brand (or rather, all the elements that define the brand) and the world. A brand is built, rebuilt, and refreshed during the branding stages of its life. But after a brand is defined (and as that definition evolves), the brand has to be monitored and maintained. That’s where brand management comes in. Brand management, including the software to support it, helps organizations ensure that their brand travels from point A to B, C, D, and E with accuracy, speed, and integrity. And in the long run, it helps companies achieve that much-coveted golden trifecta of brand awareness, equity, and loyalty.
Who needs brand management?
Organizations of all kinds benefit from adopting brand management practices. After all, it’s often these trusty processes, strategies, and safeguards that prevent distorted images, off-brand messaging, and outdated illustrations from eroding a brand’s integrity.
But managing a brand manually is tough. That’s why many brand management strategies today involve the use of technologies like the Collective that streamline operations and help organizations control their assets and how they’re used. The benefits are wide-reaching, but here’s how we’re seeing certain roles and user types benefit from our solution.
Brand managers try to strike a balance between fostering creativity and protecting their brand. With the Collective, they can publish brand guidelines, assign projects to creatives, and manage feedback and approvals all in one platform. This eliminates the chance that off-brand, unfinished assets get loose on the web.
Creators lose time (and sanity) to endless email chains that make a mess of version control and team feedback. With the Collective, creators have a central repository for their files. There’s never a question of which files are the most recent, and they can access assets stored in the Collective directly inside their go-to creative tools. Come review time, approvers are notified and feedback is gathered in one central feed. The result is fewer rounds of revisions, faster approvals, and brand-safe content.
Marketing executives want to oversee the brand without micromanaging it. The Collective enables them to do that. Executives can view what everyone is creating, where projects stand, and how assets perform. This knowledge helps them decide what content to invest in next and how much to budget. In addition, the Collective tracks image usage rights to prevent expensive lawsuits, which anyone will agree is a very good thing.
A brand is a brand largely because of all the assets that are used to define it. A brand asset is a tangible file or resource that helps organizations tell their story and establish or nurture their brand’s identity with the outside world. Brand assets are branding or marketing elements that can be seen and leveraged by internal teams, partners, or customers. From visuals to guidelines and rules, brand assets include a wide variety of formats and types.
Logo and brand name
There’s a lot of meaning packed into a brand’s logo and name. With just a single visual representation and a string of letters or numbers, these simple (and often taken for granted) assets are designed to capture a brand’s entire essence, or its mission, vision, values, and purpose. No pressure, right? But really, a brand logo and name tell a story. They tell customers, employees, and the general public what kind of brand and experience they can expect. It’s up to brand owners to protect the integrity of these foundational elements and ensure they are true to their original form (e.g., color, scale, spelling) and used exactly how intended.
Graphics, photos, and videos
In addition to logo and name, organizations have a number of other visual elements they use to support and communicate their brand and all it has to offer. Graphics, photos, and videos are three popular examples.
Graphics are visual images or designs that illustrate a point or communicate a story. Graphics can be standalone assets like a diagram or chart and are often used to create other content like slide presentations, web pages, and marketing materials. Photos are a type of graphic and are either proprietary assets obtained via a company-procured photographer or licensed assets acquired through a stock photography site. And videos — these are essentially moving visuals. Once a brand luxury, videos have now officially entered the mainstream thanks to powerful pocket-sized video cameras (hello, cell phone) and more user-friendly and affordable video creation and editing tools.
Together, these three brand assets make up a large amount of the brand files organizations need to manage. If these assets are not organized and easy to locate, employees will struggle to find what they need and may end up “making do” with the outdated videos, off-brand photos, and fuzzy graphics that they have easy access to.
Social media assets
Social media assets include the content that makes up a company’s social media presence. All of these assets have brand value. A brand’s followers (and even paid influencers) share content and opinions that play a part in molding audience perceptions of a company. The images, videos, and other content a company shares or uses to “program” their social channels says something about their brand. Managing all of these social media assets is a lot of work; but it’s made easier with the help of a brand management tool that prevents outdated, low-quality, or unapproved assets from popping up on Facebook, Instagram, or beyond.
Brand guidelines are the standards and rules companies develop and use to maintain brand consistency across touch points. With guidelines in place, companies can ensure that anyone who is communicating on behalf of their brand (whether written, verbal, or visual) gets it right. Brand guidelines touch a lot of different areas, providing people with a framework for handling everything from brand voice, tone, and sentiment to color, font, logo, image, and graphic usage. At the end of the day, a company’s brand is their greatest asset — and brand guidelines play a necessary role in an organization’s quest to protect it.
Brand identity kit
Similar to brand guidelines, a brand identity kit is a resource that includes the tools and information people need to represent a brand with consistency. However, they’re not one in the same. While brand guidelines address how a brand should be communicated in written, visual, and audio form, a brand identity kit focuses on the visual elements of a brand. As such, a brand identity kit includes high-level information about a brand’s visual identity, as well as the rules and information about how to use and where to find logos, wordmarks, brand colors, fonts, and more. But this is just scratching the surface. Head over to our ever-popular article, “What to Include in Your Brand Identity Kit” for more information.
Benefits of brand management
Before the digital world existed, marketers had an easier time managing their brands across a handful of offline channels. Fast forward to today and organizations are faced with the mounting challenge of finding better, more organized, and productive ways to manage their omnipresent brands. Brand management — and the software the supports it — is increasingly the solution.
Here’s how organizations are benefiting:
- Consistent brand identity across social, web, event, and sales channels with centralized brand guidelines and approved assets.
- Easy sharing of approved brand assets using portals to group and distribute guidelines, logos, colors, testimonials, and content via a simple link (that’s right, no coding required).
- Organized review and approval processes with proofing workflows and notifications so creators can produce better brand content in fewer drafts.
- On-brand templates that save designers time by empowering sales teams to customize their own content for their market or region.
- Insight into brand strengths and weaknesses with content analytics that reveal which assets collaborators use, where they appear, and how audiences engage with them.
- A protected brand with version control, asset expiration dates, and image rights management to ensure only the right brand asset is used.
- Workflow efficiency through system integrations that allow organizations to connect all of their go-to technologies for on-demand access to the most up-to-date brand assets.
- Consistent brand identity across social, web, event, and sales channels with centralized brand guidelines and approved assets.