June 5, 2018 • digitalmedia • Branding • Comments Off on Ensure Brand Compliance with These Tips
When you have multiple locations, it can be a benefit—and a wise move—to localize marketing campaigns. When you allow content assets to become contextualized, you’re speaking to the people in the regions you’re serving, allowing for local flexibility, and heightening your own potential for industry leadership.
How will your campaigns stay unified across different locations if they’re each concentrating on different audiences? When your brand loses its focus, your voice is divided, you lose recognizability, and marketing efforts drop in effectiveness. No successful company is a chameleon, completely changing colors depending on where it happens to be. Clear identity expressed through brand is key to strong lead and revenue generation, no matter how far your marketing efforts reach.
Here are five crucial aspects of ensuring brand compliance.
A certain amount of local flexibility can be appropriate and can even boost the effectiveness of your brand. But the scope of that flexibility, if allowed, must fit within predetermined criteria. It is like “riffing” in a piece of music, or like an actor improvising a bit differently each night on the stage. Each performance has to begin from a predetermined script in order to work. Not every instance of branding has to be standardized to the letter. But all content must be generated out of standard practices, and therefore share a “family resemblance,” clearly coming from and pointing to the same brand strategy.
Your company should outline a set of brand compliance guidelines—standard practices and examples of what your brand and its content should include, as well as its character. This can encompass target audiences, design elements, logos, color schemes, aspects of tone and messaging across all channels, company culture, and employee interactions with clients. Altogether this forms the piece of music, the base melody, from which local “riffing” must work.
Once you have guidelines in place, help your people “get it.” Teaching brand compliance practices to every employee involved with marketing is not covered by a single PowerPoint presentation or Skype conference. It must be approached ahead of time, tied to the vision of the company, and returned to regularly.
Employees who generate content should be the ones trained most in this area and given access to the most reference resources to learn compliance. Almost no detail is too nitty gritty for them, from indenting paragraphs in print materials to using hashtags on social media.
But it’s not all about teaching. Even your content creators don’t start from scratch every time they write an email, and you already have employees on the ground in every area who need brand-compliant assets to function in their daily operations, now. This is where you need a centralized location for available templates and pre-approved marketing materials. Approved resources are built by the executive and creative teams and don’t hit the ground until they’re ready to be implemented.
A great way to provide a comprehensive bank of these templates and other resources is through online hubs or marketing portals. Marketing portals make pre-approved assets available for employee use around the globe, centralizing and streamlining compliance efforts enormously.
While you may choose to keep these resources with a “share” drive or other in-house solution, and while they may work, they often take up significant employee time searching for the right resource, and it is difficult to keep filing consistent and all materials current. In addition, if an employee cannot find what’s needed, they may produce their own solution in the interests of time, and end up breaking with brand compliance. At least look into a centralized, corporately-managed portal.
For employees who have already been with you a long time, have patience. And communicate clearly and frequently as you put new standard practices into place. Changing expectations can be challenging operationally and personally, and clarity from corporate leaders, as well as openness to questions and challenges from local leaders, is crucial for maintaining trust, especially with employees who have limited face-to-face contact with corporate HQ. Your standard practices might not come off the presses perfect, and you may need to hear back from regional offices to know that.
After taking time to align all locations with brand compliance standards, staying within bounds will become a matter of instinct. It will feel intuitive to employees whether an image, color scheme, or bit of messaging is on-brand or not, and their own ability to be locally creative with the brand, as well as feed helpful ideas back to corporate, is enhanced.
The goal of multi-locational business is not to reproduce a single, uniform way of distributing goods and services. A global brand juggernaut is not the same as compliance and it won’t ultimately benefit your business to operate in a uni-cultural mindset. There is great mutual enrichment to be found in the give-and-take between your business and the various places in which you conduct it. Local employees will find more satisfaction working with flexibility within expected standards, as they are able to not only inhabit their own local identities as they work but reach and serve their regions with integrity and the power of custom content.
Clarify compliance, trust your partners around the corner and abroad to understand their own contexts best, and expect your business to be “spoken into” in unexpected, challenging, and enlightening ways as you grow.
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