State of Brand Management Tools 2024

What is Brand Governance & Why Is It Important

I guess it does sound a little cliche, but it’s true: Brand is your company’s greatest asset. 

It’s what makes customers recognise you and your products over and over again. 

It’s what builds their trust. 

Brand helps them tell you apart from the competition. 

Not to mention that it’s often the very first thing that customer base their opinions about you…

Yet, despite all that, a brand is also one aspect of a business that companies pay little to no attention to controlling. 

Sure, they do develop the brand. But controlling it? Or ensuring it’s always consistent… well, that is often a completely different matter. 

It’s hugely important, though, and I’ll show you how in this guide. You’ll also learn the concept of brand governance and the benefits of having a set of rules, processes, and guidelines to protect brand identity. 

Table of Contents

What is brand governance?

I’ve already hinted at what the concept means by discussing rules, processes, and guidelines to protect brand identity. 

But there is more to brand governance, so let’s review the concept from the top. 

First, when we use this term – brand governance – we usually refer to a standardised system for protecting a company’s brand identity and ensuring its consistency across all customer touchpoints. 

Note two aspects to that definition…

  • Protecting brand identity and integrity. In practice, this means safeguarding the integrity and distinctiveness of your brand’s elements, such as logos, colors, and messaging, from unauthorised or inappropriate use.
  • Brand consistency. This aspect ensures that your brand’s messaging, visuals, and overall identity remain uniform across all channels and touchpoints.

 

There are several other benefits of implementing brand governance. 

Controlling brand perception

In layman’s terms, controlling brand perception means ensuring that customers always experience the same messaging and brand image when exposed to a brand and have the exact perception and impression of it that the company would like them to have. 

Apple, for example, is famous for its strict control over how its logo and products are featured in branded materials. It doesn’t matter what you encounter – an ad, a product visual, or a video – they will look similar and evoke similar emotions in you.

(Image source)

Another example – Starbucks. It doesn’t matter where in the world you stumble upon its shop; it will have a uniform design, consistent with every other store you’ve ever visited… worldwide. 

Mitigating brand-related risks

When we talk about mitigating brand-related risks, we refer to minimizing the chances of damage to the brand’s reputation, value, or image. In the context of brand governance, this means:

  • Preventing the dilution of brand identity so that the brand never loses its distinctiveness. 
  • Protecting against brand infringement. 
  • Avoiding brand scandals and maintaining trust and credibility of the brand image. 

Empowering employees and other stakeholders to use the brand

This is often taken for granted in the context of brand governance. We automatically assume that by creating dedicated processes for protecting brand identity, we empower others to use it correctly. 

And that is exactly what happens, but I believe it is also worth mentioning. 

In a typical organisation, hundreds of people can easily use the brand identity.

  • Employees might be creating various branded materials. Some of these are used in marketing; others help communicate various aspects of the brand or products internally. 
  • Resellers present the brand and its products to their customers. 
  • Partners or media portray the brand in their publications and more. 

 

All these pose a serious threat to the brand, particularly if there is no unified set of processes and rules for using the brand. 

Let me share one data point to illustrate this. A 2020 research study published in Harvard Business Review found that companies constantly fail to educate salespeople about their product messaging. 

As a result, these salespeople misrepresent product details and brand positions to potential clients, damaging the brand perception. 

Brand governance helps empower employees, partners, or resellers to use the brand while ensuring their actions don’t affect the brand’s image, trustworthiness, and perception.

6 key elements of brand governance

We’ve covered a lot of theory about brand governance. We referred to it as a set of guidelines, processes, and rules. But what does that mean in practice? What actually goes into a brand governance strategy?

Brand strategy

This is nothing more than a long-term vision, goals, and positioning that you have for a brand. The strategy, typically, defines such aspects of a brand as brand mission, values, target audience, and brand promise. 

Brand messaging guidelines

These guidelines include anything from the tone, voice, and style that you will use in communication and help ensure that all brand communications convey a consistent brand personality and messaging, regardless of the channel or audience.

Brand assets and brand asset management

Brand assets are basically all elements that form a brand identity – logos, images, videos, taglines, and various marketing materials. 

Brand asset management, on the other hand, focuses on how to store, organise, and distribute brand assets while protecting them from misuse. 

Brand governance platforms like CELUM, for example, include digital asset management capabilities to help centralise brand assets and access them across mobile, desktop, and online.

This feature lets your brand managers control asset libraries and who sees what. Benefit from version control, AI tags, and bulk editing.

Brand compliance auditing and monitoring

Regular audits and performance monitoring help brands identify and rectify any issues, particularly inconsistencies in how the brand is used and portrayed to the public. 

Why is this important? Well, for one, because inconsistent brand image can seriously confuse customers about what the brand actually is or stands for. 

This might be an extreme example of the negative effect of brand inconsistency but it’s also one surely to drive the idea home. 

Back in 1982, Colgate decided to diversify its brand. It seemed a natural thing to do to combat its main competitor, Procter & Gamble. 

It’s just instead of what you might have expected – like the company launching a new dental floss line or another hygiene product, the company aparently brought this:

(image via Museum of Failures, found via FoodandWind)

The result? Serious confusion among customers (although, luckily, not a huge damage to the brand.)

Training and Education

Naturally, to ensure that employees and other stakeholders understand the brand’s values and brand messaging, as well as rules and guidelines for using it, an organisation needs to provide ongoing training and education. 

Crisis management processes

A company might occasionally need to handle a brand-related crisis. Therefore, its brand governance process should include protocols, processes, and strategies to help minimise the impact of such a crisis and address any issues swiftly. 

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How to get started with brand governance

Below, I’ve outlined what the process of implementing brand governance looks like, typically. 

Naturally, this is a general overview, and the process might require more or fewer steps for you. But this should give you a good idea of where to begin and what to do. 

So, without any further ado…

Brand governance framework

The process begins with developing a framework for brand governance. 

A brand governance framework is nothing more than a set of rules, processes, and guidelines that tell employees and teams how to represent the brand correctly and ensure brand consistency and integrity. 

Personally, I like to think of the framework as a roadmap that shows everyone involved how the brand is communicated to the world and how to do it correctly. 

The framework defines such elements as a brand strategy, identity standards, messaging guidelines, legal considerations, etc. 

Brand governance tools

One of the biggest challenges companies face with brand governance is not implementation but ongoing management and facilitation. In other words, it’s relatively easy to set brand governance guidelines and processes. However, putting them into practice and ensuring they are being followed is incredibly difficult. 

That’s where dedicated brand management and governance tools come into play. 

Without a dedicated brand management tool, you must constantly rely on various stakeholders to remember brand guidelines, follow processes, and trust them always to use the brand correctly. 

CELUM, for example, offers a whole range of capabilities to help companies with brand governance:

  • Brand Guidelines that allow you to create a curated repository of brand guidelines and assets.  
  • Brand Templates. With this feature, companies can set up templates for the most commonly created content and allow stakeholders to use and modify them while ensuring brand consistency at all times. 
  • Approval workflows that help manage revisions and signoff processes and ensure that all brand assets follow the brand guidelines.
  • Access and rights control that allows companies specify who can see what and what actions they can perform on various assets. 
  • Brand adoption monitoring and brand performance insights. This feature is specific to Brand Portals and lets companies monitor the adoption and performance of various branded assets. 

Want to learn more about how CELUM can help you streamline brand management? Book a demo, and let us walk you through the platform.

Asset management and centralisation

One aspect of brand governance is rules and guidelines for utilising the brand in communications. The other, ensuring that all stakeholders – employees, partners, resellers, third parties, etc. – always work off the same, correct versions of assets. 

I admit that this might not seem a big issue at first. This is particularly true early on, when you don’t have many brand assets. Overtime, as the number of branded assets expands, the potential for errors and mistakes increases significantly.

There might be different revisions of the logo, a whole range of images and visuals, updated versions of fonts, and more. 

Without a proper way to store, organise, manage, and distribute these, a company would face constant challenges with keeping the brand uniform and consistent, let alone preventing costly mistakes. 

Brand management platforms like CELUM help centralise brand assets with digital asset management features. 

These allow brand managers to create asset libraries, manage who can access which assets, and ensure that teams always work off the most recent and up-to-date file version. 

Ongoing training

As you may have noticed from this guide, one of the greatest threats to a brand is stakeholders – employees, partners, and resellers – misusing the brand and failing to follow brand guidelines. 

In brand governance, ongoing training ensures that stakeholders:

  • Understand the brand
  • Are updated with any changes to brand guidelines. 
  • Know how to represent the brand consistently across all content they produce, and
  • Understand the processes for managing, organising, and retrieving brand assets. 

Overall, training is the element of brand governance that ensures the brand is consistently represented, protected, and promoted by everyone within the organisation.

Looking to implement brand governance within your organisation? Check out CELUM, the leading brand management platform.

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