Brand compliance. It helps generate nearly 25% more sales. Yet over 60% of organizations report that their branded content and marketing materials don’t conform to brand guidelines much of the time. Those are startling numbers considering the results. You need to get consistent with your brand to make more money. It seems like a simple notion, yet most companies are getting it wrong.
Maintaining brand compliance means controlling your brand’s identity. That’s why a review is essential.
At its core, a brand compliance review examines how the brand and its stakeholders are representing its offline and online identity. By developing a comprehensive set of guidelines to assess the consistency of your brand, you can be sure it’s properly represented—everywhere.
Not sure where to start? Here’s how to conduct your own brand compliance review.
Review All Aspects of Branded Content
This may seem like a time-consuming task, but to achieve brand compliance, you should examine how your brand is being represented throughout your entire organization.
No matter how big or small, a full review is the best way to check the health and consistency of your brand.
Branded Content Scenarios
Here are a few possible examples of branded content gone wrong—and some solutions:
- Maybe you’re a franchise that changed your logo, yet local marketers are still using an older version. This is a red flag to consumers who interact with your brand at multiple touch points. A brand is much more than a logo, but it serves as the face of the brand. Consistency across online identity and all channels is imperative.
- Perhaps a franchisee needed a template to design a marketing poster and decided to create one on their own, without any direction on how to represent the brand. As a result, they created a piece of branded content that damaged your brand image and overall credibility. This is an easy fix. Create pre-approved templates that can be edited with localized branded content. After all, most marketers agree that localization results in the highest return on investment when it comes to advertising.
- A hired designer may be creating promotional materials without a style guide. You can change that, too. Make your style guide available (along with pre-approved images, logos, and other branded content) in a digital asset library. When you need to announce an update, even if it’s a minor change, make the edits and replace the current version. Just like that, it’s available for all users to see.
When you’re not monitoring all your channels—even unofficial ones—there’s the potential for brand compliance problems. Improper brand usage is one of them.
Google Your Brand For Key Information
One way to find out what your stakeholders are doing is to conduct a quick search. Use Google to find out more about your online identity. You can also set up Google Alerts that will automatically monitor branded content, mentions of your company name, high-profile employees, and/or keywords that are relevant to your business. As an added bonus, it also allows you to keep track of customer complaints and concerns. Keeping up with the online identity of your brand will prevent others (franchisees, for example) from creating unapproved materials.
Check Local Representations—Both Physical and Digital
When you’re checking what your local partners, marketers, and distributors are doing, be sure to examine both their printed materials, and their digital work, too. And don’t just look at their sales and marketing materials. Check out other forms of branded content like their company stationery, customer-facing materials, operational items, and internal employee communications.
Here are a few examples of the branded content to audit:
- Sales and marketing materials: website, social media, brochures, advertising
- Stationery: letterhead and envelopes, mailing labels, business cards, fax cover sheets
- Customer-facing: invoices, contracts, thank-you notes, packaging, online identity
- Operational: products, location signage, car/truck signage, uniforms
- Internal communications: newsletters, break room signage, HR materials
For brick-and-mortar stores, in-person visits are especially effective for inspecting brand usage. Use the services of “secret shoppers” or make surprise audits to see how these locations are applying branding. It’s best not to rely on scheduled visits, however. Employees may scramble to follow all the required guidelines when they know there’s an upcoming inspection, then neglect the proper branding once they’re on their own again.
The best time to audit a site is when one of your promotions changes, but consider making semi-annual or quarterly visits, depending on the size of your business, and how often your promotions change. Tailor the review process to fit your organization’s individual needs.
Create an Action Plan for Non-Compliance
When you discover that someone is improperly representing your brand—the opposite of brand compliance—you need to have an action plan in place to fix it as quickly as possible.
Begin by creating a set of steps to steer them in the right direction. But by all means, make it a positive experience rather than something they’ll dread. Show them how the proper management of your brand can benefit everyone involved, including their bottom line. Provide clear steps to fix any problems, along with the consequences if they’re not followed.
A cash reward is always an incentive option, but research has shown the top two drivers of employee performance are:
- Making a difference at work.
- Being recognized for doing a good job.
Positive reinforcement motivates people, so reward those who get it right with the proper credit. Highlight their brand compliance achievements with a success story detailing their actions. This will make them feel appreciated and valued, and it can serve as a blueprint for others to follow.
“Establish a compliance team that regularly checks to make sure things are done the way they’re supposed to be done,” says Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics, a health and beauty franchise headquartered in Farmingdale, NJ. “When branches are failing to meet standards, implement a plan of action to get them back on track.”
The perfect place to do this is a brand marketing center. This web-based marketing hub allows you and your team to customize your marketing materials and online identity while also maintaining the integrity and consistency of your brand. BlueSky ETO’s brand management software is the ideal “engineered to order” solution, because each brand is unique. Get a behind-the-scenes look at its capabilities with a free software demo or schedule a free consultation today.
Get Feedback on What’s Working
Changes with your brand require planning and consultation with your stakeholders. Whether you’re updating your logo or in-store signage, or offering a new range of products, open communication is important. The same is true about an audit of those changes.
During this process, don’t forget to listen to what your local marketers and other departments within your organization are saying. What’s working for them and what’s not working? And why? Some of these departments could be getting similar feedback, but unless you communicate with all of them, you won’t be able to spot the patterns.
If you’re making an in-person visit to a franchisee, collect and record their feedback each time to determine if there are any national trends among your locations. This can provide valuable insight for future decisions. If you take action on any of their feedback, be sure to let them know afterward and share the results.
“To remain successful, you have to allow your branches to experiment and implement what works,” Masterson added. “Fostering the kind of culture that rewards creativity will help it flourish.”
Share Brand Compliance Success Stories
As long as you’re collecting feedback, be sure to document and share the things that worked for one marketer with your entire organization. Focus on the process they used and the results. It will inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
BlueSky ETO’s brand marketing software provides a place for stakeholders to share this information in a customized brand marketing center. Team leaders create a place that serves as a shared resource center. Think of it as an intranet, complete with a common knowledge zone. Everyone that’s authorized has access to it, and submitted stories and strategies can serve the greater good of the organization. You can even share these stories publicly as branded content.
Get it Right From the Start With Guidelines
If you have a set of guidelines in place from the start, you can save yourself a lot of work later. Establish the dos and don’ts with your brand’s offline and online identity by creating an online brand marketing center. Because everyone has access to your approved marketing materials, you’ll streamline your production. Plus, you’ll improve your brand’s consistency and marketing effectiveness with customized software that’s powerful and easy to use.
Brand Marketing Center Highlights
A brand marketing center allows you to:
- Create a branded content-management-enabled website where users can find the latest brand marketing information and resources.
- Build customizable marketing templates that give creative control to the end users, while still keeping the brand consistent.
- Establish a digital asset library for approved brand images, logos, audio/video files, and more.
And that’s only the beginning. You’ll also enjoy e-commerce capabilities, comprehensive reporting, and compatibility with your favorite software programs.
Work With Brand Compliance Experts
It’s difficult to accurately “see” what your brand compliance issues are from the inside. You may be too close to your business to identify all the problems and make good decisions. Working with brand compliance experts can help create a software solution that’s custom-built for your business.
Make your brand guidelines and best practices available to every team member at the click of a button. Updated marketing materials—including approved fonts, logos, graphics, online identity guidelines and more—can be easily stored and shared. Brand compliance is easier than ever with expert tools from BlueSky ETO. It’s “engineered to order” for your organization.
Schedule a one-on-one consultation with a BlueSky ETO representative to begin transforming your brand today.
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