Brand Compliance and In-housing. What ANZ and Coke are missing.
• Brand Compliance models are vital for consistency but require technology to ensure success.
• The in-housing trend continues following the pandemic with Coca-Cola reviewing its supplier relationships and looking for efficiencies.
• Andrew Baker, MyAdbox CEO, says that without the right brand management software, in-housing models are ultimately doomed.
Opinion by Andrew Baker, MyAdbox CEO
Here we are at the beginning of a new year – it’s time to prepare ourselves to take it on with positivity and enthusiasm. But before we leave 2020 behind, over the last week I’ve also had a little time to reflect on some big marketing moves made in recent months by some big companies.
Toward the end of last year I responded to an article by Paul Siedle – ANZ’s head of brand experience in which he shared his thoughts on the way ANZ had streamlined its approach to 'Brand Compliance'.
In that piece, I commended ANZ for embracing an online system to ‘centralize, approve, standardize and manage’ their assets but I warned of the dangers of striving for ‘culturally led Brand Compliance’ without the right systems in place. Human behavior is the culprit here, bringing the best laid compliance plans undone. ANZ has taken a step in the right direction (loosely, at least) but without a strong Brand Management Platform in place, I’m sorry to say it’s ultimately doomed. Teaching and implementing are two very different things. To effect real Brand Compliance across a business as big as ANZ requires a powerful technical solution.
Then in mid-December, I read with interest that Coca-Cola had embarked on a huge agency review to ‘fundamentally transform’ it’s marketing in an attempt to ‘improve effectiveness and efficiency’ by developing in-housing solutions within media, creative and production management. According to the article,
‘the move toward in-housing could have been accelerated by the belt-tightening effects of the pandemic that make cost and efficiency even more crucial.’
Makes perfect sense. Belts are tightening everywhere. Marketing teams are smaller. They now need to do more with a lot less. So what’s the answer? Move expensive parts of the marketing process in-house. Yep. Get that.
There’s a trend with the in-housing versus outsourcing model that swings predictably over time according to economic conditions. Companies will fall in love with the in-housing model during difficult times, but it all becomes too hard at some point (jaded in-house teams get smashed with work and lose interest) and when the belts loosen a little, (usually accompanied by a few marketing changes) you can bet your bottom dollar you’re about to hear: ‘it’s time we outsourced to benefit from some external expertize.’ And just as predictably, within a couple of years, storm clouds will appear on the horizon once more and an in-house solution will match the new smaller budgets. Rinse, repeat.
My question to Coca-Cola is this: apart from just ramping up the in-house head count, what else have you done to fundamentally change things so your shiny new in-house model doesn’t get replaced by a whoppingly expensive outsourcing model in about 18 months? Don’t get me wrong. I think (just like ANZ) that you’re stepping in the right general direction. The economy’s tight. In-housing makes sense. But if you don’t put in a powerful technical solution to back up your in-house model, it’s going to come unstuck. London to a brick.
We’ve learned over many years that in-housing is often plagued with inefficiencies. The challenge for Internal Design Teams is the weight of minor changes needed for commonly created pieces, chewing up time and eroding their ability to work on bigger communication projects. There’s also a huge volume of time wasted in asset hunting for far flung departments in demand for logos/pack shots/lifestyle imagery together with the seemingly endless toing and froing of the approvals process, with multiple rounds of changes frustrating everyone. Once again, you’re allowing Human Behavior to enter the frame. This is where Brand Management Software streamlines the process and gets everyone working in sync.
Good Brand Management platforms have a cloud based Digital Asset Management system (DAM) that allows users to access assets at will with zero together with a dynamic Content Creation system that completely changes the workflow. This Content Creation system provides businesses like Coca-Cola with the ability to create their own content for commonly needed creative using editable, brand-compliant templates. Basically, it democratizes design for large enterprises, empowering network users and saving huge amounts of time and frustration. The great thing is that within the content creation system, users access online, on-brand material (thereby eliminating approval processes) to create anything they need, across all media channels.
For me, 2021 is a year of wonderful possibilities and powerful technologies will help forward thinking companies make huge inroads with their marketing efforts. They’ll be creating maximum reach while minimizing their costs and clawing back time. Small companies and bigger organizations like ANZ and Coca-Cola are realizing the general direction they need to head to achieve these efficiencies. They just need to fine-tune their strategy by embracing technologies that go hand-in-hand with it.