BY JOSE IGNACIO MONRABAL
Managing brands today is a complex practice, whether in large multinational or small family run companies. It requires dedication, meticulousness, teamwork, organization, planning, perseverance and a great deal of passion. At the same time, it requires to count on rather business, design or communications perspectives, while knowing well enough about the product it offers and the industry it participates in.
Conscious or not, a Brand Manager has a tremendous responsibility inside the organization. Its modus operandi managing the brand asset will have a substantial direct effect on the future’s company reputation, brand preference, loyalty, awareness and after all, value in the marketplace. As a result, how it manages the brand today will play a key role in the sales revenues of the organization in the future.
In the daily agenda of a Brand Manager, there is a concrete job that is essential for the creation of brand value: creativity. It often brings dilemmas like building brand consistency by following previous design styles or building a dynamic brand by innovating in the marketing communications approach. The lack of common universal practices in creativity, even helped by brand governance and identity rules, permits Brand Managers, creative teams and agencies to take different ways. Although experience and methodology are significantly helpful in these kind of projects, most of the times creative programs require market reciprocity, which means that sometimes it could be too late to react.
Surrounded by experts on a varied spectrum of marcom disciplines, a Brand Manager must be precise enough, taking into consideration multiple business strategies, brand identity maxims and marketing communications techniques, to manage that creativity and ensure that they are all aligned. Being that managing properly the brand, is a major indicator of the company’s success or failure in the industry, following are given some essential tips that may be useful for Brand Managers to face today’s multiple challenges.
Asking for Opinions when it comes to Creativity
When communicating to a large group of individuals, and being that the brand communications is crucial for a company’s business strategy, the need of contrasting with others before sending out any communication materials to the mass media results obvious.
Even if the people we ask to do not know well the program context or about branding practices, any first-impression may be highly useful to make us reflect about the angle of the campaign. If after asking for opinions we still have doubts, ask to even more people. If technically we cannot find the right answers, statistics may be of help.
Requiring External Agencies the Highest Quality: Train them and Engage them
During the creation process of a new marcom platform for the brand, most of the touch-points go on their last stage through external suppliers. Some examples are website content management -web agencies-, brochures -printers-, tradeshow materials -event agencies- or advertising motifs –publishers-.
Since a brand management team is responsible not only for their production volume also but for the quality of the brand outputs, it is crucial to pay additional attention that the agency understands and is motivated enough to accomplish the brand quality standards. To make sure they do, providing them descriptive and clear briefings and artwork is essential.
In special cases and mainly when dealing with new agencies and suppliers, to request a proof or to specify clearly in the contract the quality that has to be delivered, may serve as room for maneuver.
Following up regularly the Quality Status of any existing Brand Touch-point
Despite it is a tedious job, the responsibilities of a brand ambassador require not only creating new materials and contents but to review and take care as well of the existing touch-points. This means that conceptually, the Brand Manager is not only accountable for tomorrow’s brand positioning by developing new materials, but also for the current true value that the brand has in the marketplace.
Not as highly trained and motivated about the branding objectives and guidelines, there are many stakeholders that could take part of the brand. Suppliers, dealers, partners, former employees, are only a few of them. To identify the brand status, the internet and traditional personal communications represent the main tools to detect, evaluate and act as soon as possible.
When reviewing that every touch-point of the brand meets the values it stands for and accomplishes the corporate identity guidelines, it can be combined with other major universal objectives: to update and align the marketing message across every touch point.
Planning Resources by Type of Work they require
Since the work of a branding team is deeply linked to the overall marketing and communication activities, it has many ups and downs in their work activity. Being the quality a maxim priority for this area, efficiency has to be carefully cared too, since beyond performance the lack of organization could result in failures of quality in the featured marcom materials.
Looking at how to be more efficient, a right approach could be to organize the work, not only by the deadlines, by the media it will use or by the campaign; but by the type of work it requires: contacting with the agencies, managing contents, developing creativity, writing briefings or sending materials.
Continuously asking how the Brand can evolve
The reasons why a brand communications strategy and its materials could evolve are various: new tools available, new media channels, competitor’s positioning changes, new internal resources, etc.
This brand transformation has been traditionally made drastically every period of time. Although there are other shades of meaning here, the deep changes of the logo in the last decades are just an example. Today, organizations are adapted to this new reality, with a structure and management mechanisms prepared to react progressively at the same time the market or the company evolves. This implies capacity, but not necessarily success in terms of where the brand goes. For such aim, to stay connected to the industry and with the brand communications community as well is key, rather by reading papers, gathering or attending conferences.
Continuously asking what the Brand can do for the Business
Conceptually, the lead-generation approach should not only be a methodology, but a philosophy, continuously taken into consideration by the brand manager.
A branding guy normally has a tremendous context of how far the brand can go, mainly when it is involved it is in the overall marketing communications strategy. The brand responsible should not miss a day without wondering: What the brand I manage can do to sell more?, being later necessary to transmit such insights to the senior management with objective data to get their support.