How frustrating is it to spend blood, sweat and tears on creating a communication, either yourself or through an external resource, for it to be pulled up by the brand department. Many marketing professionals have been dubbed ‘Brand Police’ at this point of the process – which can be seen as a frustration.
But take a step back – do you know what the brand guidelines are? Does your communication fit in with what the brand as a whole is trying to say? This last is what the ‘Brand Police’ are trying to protect – the identity of the brand. Although most people think about the logo and the colours when thinking about identity, the tone of voice and the way the brand speaks to its stakeholders is also very important.
Your well-intentioned communication could actually be diluting the brand message.
This kind of ‘brand dilution’ can range from the slightly annoying inconsistencies that few people would notice to glaring and embarrassing errors. And at the worse end of this scale, there could even be legal and reputational impacts.
So, you can see why brand managers would, on the face of it, be forgiven for cursing their ‘errant’ colleagues under their breath when they see a finely tuned payoff massacred, a trademark wrongly used or some blurb in Finnish which sounds like something out of the Teletubbies to the local market.
But they, in turn, might need to take a step back and ask themselves a few questions. What tools and guidelines have been provided to colleagues, and any freelancers working for the brand, for instance? Part of developing the brand story is helping others to translate it to their own communications. But how many times do companies have impressive ‘Brand Bibles’ that give very little information on how talk to their customers and what their writing style actually is?
The frustration felt by both sides is in danger of escalating, with more and more content being created to tell a brand story, and by all sorts of people. Yes, as those who have developed the story and are closest to it, marketing colleagues have a passion for maintaining the brand. They are often seen as zealots who have an unhealthy obsession with the amount of space around a logo and how a product is to be referred. But the story itself has much more resonance if responsibility for it is taken by the whole company, or at least by all those who have any connection with communications and customers.
The good news is that these things can be managed. Some properly used tools and pre-crafted messages can help, both in saving time and effort of communicators and the grey hairs and sanity of marketers. The police become guardians again. There will always be a need to monitor a brand to check that it is on track but also to see where it needs evolving. Don’t forget that a brand is a living beast – that needs to move with its customers as their needs change.
About the author: Waynne Meek
Waynne is passionate about all things content, especially how copy merges with other elements to make compelling communication. A recognised career of 20 years spanning various media has given him a useful insight into the way copy works across brands. Armed with this experience, he has delivered and managed effective copy solutions, from award-winning internal magazines to compelling brand and product messaging. Find out more about him on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/