Your brand is one of your most valuable assets.
It helps your firm to differentiate itself, makes you visible and recognisable to you your customers and prospects and can be invaluable shorthand for your values – the things your business stands for.
If brand is so important, do you need to appoint someone to guard yours? What role does a brand guardian play – and do you need one?
The importance of brand
The concept of ‘brand’ may be seen more as a B2C issue, but is growing increasingly important in B2B. Because B2B brands and offerings are often seen as homogenous, it can be difficult for potential customers to differentiate or choose between them.
The financial sector is a good example of this. For many people, the financial services sector is viewed as one entity. This is particularly dangerous in times where the industry’s morals are being questioned. If your firm conducts itself impeccably, you don’t want to be indistinguishable from others who don’t.
A recent Marketing Week article claims that brand-building should account for 46% of B2B marketing spend. How does this stack up against your own activity?
Consistency is the key
When it comes to brand, consistency is the watchword. Why is it so important?
- Because it helps your prospects and customers recognise you.
- It stands you apart from your lesser competitors.
- It allows people to identify your products and services, and actively seek them out.
- It reinforces your brand values
- It supports the investment you have made in the visual elements of your brand – your logo, imagery, fonts and other visual assets.
Consistent brand identity should run through your firm like wording through a stick of rock. And not just in terms of look and feel, but in ensuring that your service levels and product quality deliver on your marketing promises.
But if you work in financial services marketing, you’ll recognise the challenge of enforcing this consistency.
How to enforce brand consistency – can a guardian help?
So, how do you ensure that your entire business recognises, executes and supports your brand strategy?
For growing numbers of firms, the answer is to appoint a brand guardian. But what does this mean – what is a brand guardian and what do they do?
Recruitment firm Robert Walters says that a brand guardian’s job is to ‘maintain brand integrity across all company marketing initiatives and communications’.
A paper published by brand agency Brand Remedy is titled ‘Why brand guardianship matters more than ever’.
It argues that that the brand guardian role is vital: ‘If you’ve invested in the development of your brand, why erode its value through inappropriate use?’
It goes on to say that ‘Brand guardianship is a key component of brand management, a combination of discipline and creativity that keeps your brand strong and healthy. The discipline of brand guardianship is ensuring that your visual brand is consistently applied, everywhere’.
How a brand guardian can help make your financial services brand consistent
- Communicate that consistency is brand-enhancing, not brand-limiting
One of your board members dislikes the corporate brand. They are very vocal in their dislike, and disrupt your attempts to enforce it. This can be hard to overcome. Your appointed guardian’s role is to convey the message that consistency amplifies your brand’s strengths. Deviating from your brand standards minimises them.
- Turn the Marketing team into brand champions
Ensure everyone in the Marketing team understands and unfailingly sticks to your brand guidelines. There are no excuses for marketing inconsistencies when it comes to brand compliance.
- Create clear, well-communicated brand guidelines
All firms need a brand handbook that is clear, communicated and easily accessible.
Having unambiguous guidelines overrides many common excuses for failing to adhere to brand standards: ‘I didn’t know the logo couldn’t be pink’; ‘I didn’t know how to find approved imagery’; ‘I wasn’t sure which font we should use’.
In your organisation, these brand standards may exist already. If not, they’re something your brand guardian should own – supported by the Marketing team. You should be able to point people to your brand handbook and explain how your guidelines translate into practice.
- Make your brand assets easily available
Another excuse for not sticking to brand guidelines is that the assets people need – logos, imagery, colours – are not easily available. Make sure everything they need to be brand-compliant is at hand – for instance, in an online slide library, and you remove the temptation to reinvent the wheel when it comes to producing collateral.
- Give everyone responsibility for your brand
You may have a brand guardian, but they’re not the only one responsible for your brand. Consistency and compliance are the responsibility of everyone in your firm. This means brand training for anyone who produces client-facing materials – with clear support from the top of your organisation to show that this is non-negotiable.
- Ensure all content is checked for brand consistency and tone of voice
This can be labour-intensive, but it’s necessary if you want to be sure that all content is on-brand. Approval workflow tools enable Marketing and Compliance teams to review the brand consistency of all marketing material before it’s published, preventing publication until it’s signed off.
- Keep control of marketing material produced outside the marketing team
Managing brand consistency for documents and presentations that don’t originate in marketing can be particularly tricky. When financial promotions are produced elsewhere in the business, it’s easy for them to get out of control.
The brand guardian can help here too. Creating templates for Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, with a ‘library’ of approved options, is one way to lock down the branding, fonts, colours and images colours used.
How can we help?