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How do you get a suitable brand management system?

How do you get a suitable brand management system?
Reading time: 5 minutes

When it comes to choosing a brand management tool, the teams responsible are now faced with a wide range of solutions. Which tool fits is a question of different approaches to cooperation and what one wants to achieve with it.

From the pressure of necessity

Hardly any company, brand or institution can claim to have developed the topic of brand management strategically from the very beginning. Brand development and management were almost always a side effect of urgent necessity. Business developed, communication materials were needed for oneself, for companies involved in partnership, for clients and for the public. What followed were filing places for design material, folders for guidelines, rules for appearance, for contents, for products and everything that concerned brand-relevant aspects. Initially, agencies were commissioned with the interpretation and administration. Their counterpart at the commissioning company was the marketing department. Together they galloped after the increasingly complex control of brand activities. Most recently, with the realisation that strategic brand management is a central success factor for companies and that the development and long-term establishment of a consistent brand is of considerable importance, one began to think about suitable tools for brand management. Brand manuals, style guides, brand books, guides, CD manuals and communication kits emerged. In most cases, these were rigid sets of rules that showed what was right and wrong.

Design police beware! Someone parked the typography wrong!

With the explosion of touchpoints, communication channels and the different requirements of markets caused by digitalisation, the overall topic of brand management shifted from data carriers to various computers to the web. The rulebooks became digital, and almost unnoticed, brand development became an administrative topic. "The logo in RGB is in this directory, you can download the style guide as a PDF here ..." Digital asset management was the last word in wisdom and brand management evolved into the police force of corporate identity. It managed the logos, watched over the correct use of typography, colours, spacing as well as the do's and don'ts in terms of tonality and the timeliness of brand and campaign materials. The problem: no one likes rulebooks and law enforcers when it comes to pulling together strategy, design, communication, technology and brand management. Good tools and the empowerment to use them must be at hand.

Manage or develop?

As mentioned initially, brand management is rarely a greenfield issue. Today's brand teams are building on an inventory from which they have to evolve. In principle, they cannot start from scratch, but have to manage what is available. This can be folder systems on the intranet, CD databases, content management systems available in the cloud or even just their own computer as a hoard of sacred corporate materials. How can one take the next steps from here? The fundamental question is: "Manage or develop?" If you are involved in brand management and, alone or with a small team, only have a manageable number of stakeholders to serve with a limited range of materials, a contemporary digital asset management (DAM) system should meet your needs. A DAM collects and structures all types of files and documents that need to be shared across the organisation. If you are responsible for the brand in a medium-sized to large company with numerous teams, service companies and contacts working on a multitude of brand-relevant projects - possibly also internationally and on a wide variety of communication channels - then a brand management system (BMS) is a sensible solution for you and your teams. This is especially so since brand management is no longer just about managing assets, but about empowering and involving your colleagues in the further development of your brand work.

Which brand management system is the right one for my brand?

It would be nice if we could simply answer this question with »wirHub« - our own BMS - but that would be very transparent on the one hand and also dubious on the other. It is true: the maturity of your brand work and the resulting requirements are decisive in the selection of the appropriate system. An internationally operating automotive group with numerous brands, massive requirements for internal and external communication, for employer branding, a wide range of digital and analogue communication tools, its own software portfolio and publications from the annual report to the canteen plan needs a different system than an insurance chamber, a medium-sized cosmetics brand or an international Saatguthersteller. Another aspect of your own maturity level is the interaction of the stakeholders of your brand(s). After all, you are most likely not the only one to decide which measures and investments you will use to further develop your brand work. 

Involvement and persuasion are required.

The introduction of a brand management system touches on numerous aspects. Your IT department naturally has an interest in keeping the range of software used in-house small and using established systems from major providers. The purchasing department is more interested in waving through a cost-effective solution that can be billed quickly than in permanently financing a working environment that at first glance appears to be more cost-intensive. Depending on how young and willing to develop your teams are, you can also expect headwinds when it comes to establishing new ways of working. Who wants additional training, feedback sessions and new tools when their desk is already full?

Meet, Think, Act

The idea of using a BMS to make work easier in the long term, to ensure greater efficiency, time and cost savings through collaborative work and at the same time to promote the consistent further development of brand work requires good preparation. The first step is to analyse the current situation. Where do we stand? Where do we want to go? Which work processes are repetitive? What is causing us difficulties? Which processes would we like to handle better and more simply in the future? What new requirements will we be facing in the near future? Get all responsible persons and stakeholders together at an early stage. The operation of a BMS unites many disciplines - brand management, marketing and IT have different views and expectations of the solution. To bring internal stakeholders and users on board, a kick-off workshop is recommended at the beginning. After the kick-off, a project team should be convened as a permanent body for the BMS implementation, in which experts from all important departments and teams are represented. In addition, it is important to regularly inform all those who are not actively involved in the project about the current status. This creates acceptance and the transition to live operation goes smoothly. Once the rough objectives and requirements have been discussed, the next step is the detailed analysis of the current situation and the definition of the target state. This is often an unpopular task, but homework should be done before the search begins for the right BMS or a service company to help with the implementation. Because decisions can simply be made better on the basis of data and facts.

Take the time - we will be happy to advise you

Precisely because it is important to take into account the growing demands of cross-media brand management and also to continuously question your own strategies and processes, you should deviate from the motto »never stop a running system«. Similar to commerce or software development, there are no »solutions set in stone«; for this reason alone, shying away from a system change is not appropriate. Properly planned, with appropriate teams and a solid conceptual approach, the introduction of a BMS can proceed confidently. This is especially possible if you do not make the decision to do so only when you are collapsing under the weight of requirements and necessities. With sufficient time for preparation and a well thought-out catalogue of requirements, a brand management system can be successfully introduced.

As one of Germany's leading brand agencies, we are often deeply involved in brand development and brand management processes. As a sparring partner for a wide variety of companies, we know the application perspectives very well. No matter whether it's the marketing team, brand management, in design or in software development. With this experience and our knowledge, we are happy to advise you in order to optimally support you in your brand work.

Would you like to discuss this topic further? We are looking forward to your message.

Elke Lüders

Elke Lüders

Business Development