Digital Brand Management

Are your online strategies stretching your ability to manage your brand? If so, you suffer from a problem most companies face today. The proliferation of dedicated portals addressing everything from alliances to training poses a huge challenge for companies that want to ensure consistent brand representation on the Web.

Take Philips Electronics. The global conglomerate has over 200 branded Web properties addressing nearly 50 industry segments on all six continents. Almost every customer contact point has a unique brand experience. Style sheets, color schemes, corporate IDs, navigation, and text layout differ depending on how you enter the channel. Is this by design? Probably not — basic marketing principles dictate that explicit value exists in delivering a consistent brand experience regardless of the communication medium.

Many companies are taking active steps to ensure internal departments, partners, and the media follow clear guidelines. Here are some examples of organizations attempting to standardize brand usage via the Web:

  • Sybase. The company created an online brand handbook available to the public. The site enables users to understand the proper use of page layouts, IDs, and corporate trademarks.
  • DFW Airport. An online guide instructs all vendors, merchants, and service personnel on the proper use of corporate logos and IDs.
  • General Electric. Brand standards are published online. The site provides reference materials on the proper use of the GE “monogram” and global navigation bars.

The benefits of organizing brand standards on the Web are clear. It’s a convenient and accessible tool for internal and external parties, marketing processes are accelerated, and your chances of delivering a consistent user experience are improved. The net effect is improved brand value — and ideally, greater revenue.

Sound brand management does not end at posting your standards on the Web. Here’s my short list of do’s and don’ts.

Do:

  • Provide examples. Downloadable templates, style sheets, images, code, or any other starting material improves the utility of your brand management site.
  • Keep it simple. Remember, the goal is to make a difficult task, following brand standards, easier.
  • Keep it updated. Nothing is worse than an out-of-date guideline. Take advantage of the simplicity a brand standard site provides.

Don’t:

  • Just post a document. Simply providing a document describing your brand standards is not enough. You have to provide working examples and templates.
  • Ignore users. Simple Web tracking tools or even user registration steps can help you understand who are using the tool and what assets they are downloading.
  • Think the job is over. Effective brand management is a constant effort. Web-based systems and tools are designed to iron out only some inefficiencies of the marketing process. Strong management skills are required to ensure flawless execution of your marketing strategy.

Tools of the Digital Brand Management Trade

The ultimate brand management system has yet to be created. Sound management usually involves human interaction, training, and a dose of commonsense. Some off-the-shelf tools can make the task a little easier. Digital asset management systems from companies such as Bulldog Networks (recently acquired by Documentum), MediaBin, Artesia Technologies, and Artmachine help organize and store brand assets. These systems enable companies to repurpose digital media, including page templates, logos, images, photographs, and video, for marketing purposes. In securing proper use of brand assets, I like VeriSign’s Digital Brand Management Services. This service enables companies to comb the Web for unauthorized use of URLs and other Web assets. A great service if you want to protect your digital trademarks.

Digital brand management is a broad topic. As e-business becomes an everyday part of business, the subject will become vital for most companies.

If you have any questions or are looking for practical recommendations on digital brand management, send me a message.

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