Every marketer knows that brand management is important, but not everyone agrees on the reasons why. That’s because the strength of your brand is dependent on customer perception, and influencing how you’re perceived by a market is extremely complicated. To build a brand that customers choose over competitors, you need to start with a clearly defined brand vision, organizational self-reflection, and company-wide discipline.
Support all that with digital asset management (DAM) and you can turn brand management into a competitive advantage instead of a hard-to-define concept.
What is brand management?
Brand management is the ongoing process of ensuring a consistent, value-driven, and positive experience whenever someone engages with your company. Every touchpoint — from your website pages to your product campaigns to your customer service chats — needs to communicate what your company values so that your audience thinks of you first when they need to buy what you sell. It’s a critical business practice for anyone who wants to become relevant and stay that way in today’s constantly shifting digital landscape.
For example, if you’re in the market for social media management software, you probably already know the name Hootsuite. Their product is used by more than 18 million customers and employees at over 80% of the Fortune 1000. That’s the kind of recognition you want to develop for your brand. To see successful brand management in action, just take a close look at how Hootsuite uses Widen Collective® to manage their brand.
What tools do I need for brand management?
Start with a digital asset management (DAM) system. It’s one of the core technologies companies use to manage their brands. A DAM system organizes and distributes brand assets from a central hub, serving as a single source of truth for brand visibility, monitoring, and consistency. It’s also a powerful engine for content delivery to empower your sales teams, resellers and partners, e-commerce experiences, and every channel that needs branded content.
A DAM system can help your organization:
Create a digital gateway for your brand by using a branded login page, dashboard messages, custom URLs, and more
Share more memorable and meaningful stories with portals, shared collections, embed codes, and share links
Segment marketing stories by business group, audience, content type, and more by using metadata, categories, and search filters
Personalize brand experiences using landing pages in different languages, curating asset groups tailored to different audiences, and localizing the brand with custom sales collateral
Save brand guidelines where people can easily find them, centralizing brand assets and standards in one location with on-demand access
Track how brand assets are being used online, by whom, where, and when with asset-level and site-level content analytics
This single-source-of-truth strategy enables you to simplify both employee and customer experiences — a common quest for many modern-day marketers.
Who is responsible for brand management?
In short, everyone at your company. Branding and brand management are more than just a marketing or creative focus. Of course, your brand relies on the consistent use of your logo, brand colors, and messaging. But it also has to be understood, adopted, and put into daily practice across the whole business.
How will you ever get the whole business on board? Start by giving everyone access to up-to-date brand assets through your DAM system. This makes it easier for everyone to contribute to the customer experience in ways that build your brand consistently over time. When your brand is embraced across the organization, everyone wins:
- Marketing has an easier time communicating the value of your products and services
- Sales receives a pipeline of leads that start with a better understanding of the value you provide
- Prospective customers know what to expect from your business
- Current customers feel confident in their decision to be(come) loyal to your business
- Prospective hires will be drawn to your culture
Actions that make up the art of brand management
Now that we have a better understanding of what brand management is and who’s responsible for it, let’s look at all the actions that combine to form the art of brand management.
Inspire a positive brand perception
Your brand isn’t just a logo, campaign, or tagline. It’s the culmination of every experience a person has with your organization — which leaves a perception in their mind.
Unfortunately, you can’t control perceptions. You can only influence them.
There are three important things your organization can do consistently to influence positive associations with your brand:
- Follow through on your promises
- Deliver genuine, customer-centric experiences
- Behave with integrity
Know who you are
Positive influence starts with knowing who you are and what you stand for (your brand essence), which is no easy task. You need to ask yourself difficult questions, gain consensus about your organizational values and traits, and display your personality across teams, locations, and channels.
To make sure everyone is on the same page about who you are, ask your leadership team these types of questions:
- What three words would you use to describe how your organization should always behave? What three words describe how you should never behave? Then distill a common list of three for each category that you all agree on.
- Who are your top competitors today? Agree on who they are, then determine what value they each deliver, and how your organization is uniquely different from them.
- What are three meaningful stories you can share with your audiences that truly encompass the essence of your brand? Don’t tell a big, crazy story to get people’s attention. Make it real.
Know your audience
You need to know your audience and what they truly want from you to ensure that your brand essence resonates. Ask yourself these types of questions:
- Who are your core audiences today? Maybe you used to serve small businesses, but now you serve mid-size or enterprise businesses. Identify and agree on your target audiences today.
- Are you talking to your audiences regularly? Are you interacting with your audiences via Zoom, surveys, interviews, dinners, in-person events, or one-on-ones? If not, it’s time to get outside of your office. Your audiences are a mirror and the greatest source of feedback for your brand.
Rally your employees around your brand
Your employees are absolutely essential to managing your brand. After all, they’re the ones who interact with your customers, buyers, and partners every day. The more you communicate about what the brand means to them and how they can move it forward, the more they’ll evangelize your brand and contribute to the success of your business.
Use employee onboarding as an opportunity to teach people how your brand came to be, where it’s going, and why it’s important. Then continue brand training with employees at regular intervals so teams continually learn what’s new and what role they play in bringing it to life. Make sure to place your DAM system front and center during brand training, teach employees how to use it, and give them access from the start. The brand is a living, evolving thing with your employees at the core, so their input is of tremendous value. Ask employees:
- What’s missing? What more do they need to fully understand the breadth of your brand?
- What tools could you provide to help them consistently represent the brand?
- How do they want you to update them about the brand?
- What will help them control your brand in their everyday work?
Stellar brand management produces real, tangible results for your culture and employees. It also drives sales revenues not only for one product or service, but for other products and services positively associated with your brand. For example, if a customer loves your cleaning service and trusts your brand, they’re likely to give your cleaning supplies a chance as well. People tend to gravitate towards what they already know, especially if they’ve had a good experience.
Safeguard your brand
Start protecting your brand by controlling your brand assets with your DAM system. Logos, photos, product images, sales collateral, and videos have a value associated with them, which needs to be protected. Brand guidelines should be created to explain how and when to use these valuable assets, to get everyone moving in the same direction, and to make it easy for your teams to create communications that are on-brand.
Your guidelines should go beyond logo usage to include all aspects of the brand — mission, vision, values, promise, and visual expression — that lay the foundation for great marketing.
Measure brand perception
How do you know if you’re managing your brand successfully? You have to talk to your customers and employees. Present them with your brand messages and ask them what they think. Try to get at:
- Message resonance: Do they understand who you are and what value you offer?
- Brand recognition: Can they describe what market you’re in and what you do?
- Brand loyalty: Would they recommend your product or service to others?
- Culture confidence: Do your employees know your core values and brand essence? Do they know where to find your brand guidelines, templates, and tools?
Depending on how clearly people connect to who you are or if they can recite your core values, you’ll start to identify areas where your brand is resonating and where it’s not. Then you can adjust messaging, brand training, or tactics as needed. Continue to measure every six to 12 months until what you say and what people perceive moves closer together.
See brand management in action
Remember, brand management isn’t just about using the right version of a logo. It’s an overarching business practice that distinguishes your company in the marketplace, ensures the strength and consistency of your brand, and helps your organization live up to its promises.
When you create a central source of truth for your brand assets with a DAM system, you empower your whole organization to participate in brand management. That’s crucial if you want to make sure your brand is the go-to choice in the minds of your customers.
Note: This article was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated to include new information and examples.