Regardless of funding, revenues, or company size, one of the strongest differentiators an organization can have is its brand. But brand strength doesn’t happen on its own. It’s a competitive advantage that needs to be earned. It takes organizational self-reflection, focus, and discipline to create a brand that customers prefer over competitors.
That’s why brand management is important.
The brand must have rules placed around it to be easily upheld and presented appropriately. And it needs to be considerate to a quickly changing world with numerous cultural nuances.
What is brand management?
Brand management is the practice of defining how an organization represents its values, culture, and products to the public. It is an constant process that requires maintaining consistency around your brand and delivering on the values your organization requires to manufacture a positive relationship with your customers. Business cards, advertisements, email communications are just a few examples of outward facing material that needs to be consistent and cohesive, regardless who creates it. It is a critical business practice for any organization, no matter the size, who want to stay relevant in the minds of today’s powerful consumers.
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 point of brand management is to shape and influence the conversations people have about an organization.
Why brand management matters
From the first point of contact to the ending transaction with your business a consistent message needs to be conveyed. 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. Consistency is key. If you allow every staff member to act as they wish and create material for your company – without any guidance – you have lost uniformity.
Your employees are absolutely essential to managing your brand. They are 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 transmit your brand and contribute to the success of your business.
Protect your brand
There’s only so much you can do to protect your brand if you’re not controlling your brand assets. 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 have your team operating in sync, and to make it easy for your staff 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.
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.
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. In short, brand management can make or break a business, so make sure your brand gets the attention it deserves!