Using Technology To Automate Brand Compliance.
In another blog post we talk about how brand consistency is critical to building and maintaining customer loyalty and trust.
But if you market and sell through a distributed organization, you may find it difficult to maintain brand consistency. As in many organizations, you may find your distributed sales and marketing staff are taking matters into their own hands, creating their own marketing collateral, promotional pieces and ads to meet their immediate sales needs. This leaves all kinds of opportunity for your corporate brand to be mis-applied, creating myriad interpretations of your brand. Logo colors can shift; tag lines can change, fonts can be substituted, off colors may be chosen, incorrect verbiage may be used — the list goes on. This lack of consistency undermines all the hard work you’ve done at the corporate level to connect with customers and cultivate their trust with a uniform brand experience.
We can represent the brand consistency challenge with a formula.
Brand Consistency Challenge Formula:
( A x B x C x D ) / E
A = Number of sales access points in your organization (reps, channel partners, distributors, retail outlets, franchisees, etc.)
B = Number of marketing assets in your marketing program (brochures, flyers, ads, direct mail, point of purchase, etc.)
C = Obsolescence rate of marketing assets (how often new assets must be produced to service evolving offerings)
D = Number of unique target markets you are serving (each with a need to customize assets at the local level with relevant offerings and messages)
E = The number of internal staff hours available to ensure brand consistency (i.e., personally overseeing the creation and distribution of all marketing assets).
In other words, the larger and more distributed your organization, the more assets you have, the more often assets change, and the more markets you’re serving, the more likely your brand can and will be misapplied.
You can mitigate this by insisting that only your internal team can produce marketing assets — but this will be limited by the number of staff hours you can make available for this task. The fewer staff you have, and the more busy they are with other tasks, the less time they will have to keep control of asset production and brand application — and the more likely your outside staff in the field will resort to creating their own assets and misrepresenting the brand.
What we need then is a technology that automates the production of marketing assets, enabling your distributed sales and marketing staff to get the assets they need quickly and at the same time preventing misapplication of the brand.
Happily, that technology exists. It’s called Marketing Asset Management, or MAM for short.
MAM Puts Your Brand on Cruise Control
MAM is the generic industry term for a system that protects corporate brand elements while allowing your distributed staff, or “users,” to customize marketing assets themselves, with no intervention from your internal team required.
Here’s how it works. Your MAM provider will help you convert your marketing assets into templates. The templates contain both variable and locked fields. Corporate branding stays in the locked fields. Variable fields allow your users to insert whatever information is relevant for their sales efforts.
Some examples of variable fields:
- Contact information
- Specific products, including descriptions and photos
- Pricing and discounts
- Campaign messaging
The beauty of the MAM system is that you have full control over just how variable each variable field is. For instance, while the field for contact information may be left completely free form, you can restrict the choices of products, descriptions, and photos; pricing and discounts, canned messages, graphics, and more using pull-down menus or check boxes, presenting only the choices you allow. For instance, you might only allow discounts from 5% to 20%. You might provide a choice of four different campaign variations, such as “Winter,” “Spring,” “Summer” and “Fall.” You could provide a choice of five approved graphic backgrounds for post card designs. And so on.
Meanwhile, essential brand elements like logos, tag lines, font choices and common graphic elements can be locked so users can’t alter them. Or, you can provide certain amounts of access based on the user’s role in the organization using rule-based permission setting built into the MAM system.
Variable elements like products, photos, descriptions, graphics, etc. are all stored in a digital asset library as part of the MAM system, available for use in templates according to rules you set. As your offerings evolve, it is relatively easy to update templates and replace assets in the digital library to ensure users have access to the very latest elements.
Once the templates are created, they are stored in an online portal that users can access with any common web browser. Users are free to log in at any time, select the templates they want, customize the variable fields to meet their sales needs, and order just the quantity they want on demand for delivery as either PDFs or printed pieces. The system then provides PDF downloads or sends the order to a printer for production and delivery to users.
The online portal is self-serve. Users do all of the customization and ordering themselves. Your internal team members no longer need to be involved, because the MAM system fully automates the production of brand-compliant marketing assets.
With a MAM system, the Brand Consistency Challenge Formula becomes null and void. No matter how many users there are, no matter how many assets there are, no matter how many markets there are and no matter how often assets must be revised, the MAM system can still fully protect your brand for you while allowing users to fulfill their own asset requests immediately. The number of internal staff hours is no longer a gating factor.
Just the Ticket For Many Industries
Companies in a wide variety of industries meet the criteria in the Brand Consistency Challenge Formula for benefiting from automated brand control. Here are some:
- Restaurant chains
- Retail chains
- Manufacturers selling through dealer/distributor networks
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Healthcare organizations
- Health insurance
- Real estate groups
- Insurance providers
- Financial institutions and broker/dealer networks
- Membership organizations with multiple chapters
- Educational institutions
It Goes by Many Names
Have you heard of Marketing Asset Management (MAM) before? Those who haven’t are not alone. The industry is still relatively new, having emerged in recent years to meet the burgeoning need for brand control in this age of increasingly complex multichannel marketing. And it goes by many names at this stage. You may see it alternatively described as:
- Brand Asset Management
- Digital Asset Management
- Marketing Supply Chain Management
- Marketing Resource Management
Or just, “Technology for automating the customization, production and delivery of branded marketing assets for _______ [insert industry here].”
However, the term that has become the industry standard for this type of automation is Marketing Asset Management. As the industry grows toward maturity, you’ll hear more and more about this enabling technology under this name.
Is MAM for You?
If your organization scores high in the Brand Consistency Challenge Formula, maybe MAM is just the thing to help you automate your brand control. ZUZA is one of the providers of MAM, and is well qualified to assist you. ZUZA also provides a single vendor solution for MAM, putting the portal, printing, mailing services and fulfillment under one roof. If you are interested in learning more about Marketing Asset Management in general and the ZUZA offering in particular, we would be happy to talk with you.
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.