By Andrew Baker,
I recently read an article in B&T by Paul Siedle – ANZ’s head of brand experience. In the article, Paul shares his thoughts on the way ANZ has streamlined its approach to 'Brand Compliance'.
I commend ANZ for embracing an online system to ‘centralize, approve, standardize and manage’ their assets. It’s heading in the right direction, but at the risk of being overly critical, there are fundamental concerns I have with the nature of their approach.
For decades, businesses have struggled to successfully implement true Brand compliance. Training courses, Brand Seminars, award programs, approval processes... you name it, companies have tried it. Most recently, the trend is to develop a website/DAM led approach with a view to centralizing assets, inform on typography/iconography, provide image area guidance across media channels and build in bespoke approval/workflow processes with the expectation that this will genuinely shift the needle upward on building brand compliant content. Inevitably, it might bump the needle a little, but there are underlying issues that stand in the way of long-term success.
I liken the problem to the world's current approach to limiting the spread of COVID-19 – in that it relies largely on people educating themselves appropriately to apply their learnings and utilize the 'right' tools to correctly stop the spread. At the risk of trivializing the complexities of the pandemic (not my intention I assure you), I am merely pointing out that human behavior lies at the core struggle of systemic change.
In the field of brand compliance, it’s human behaviour that brings the best laid compliance plans undone. Education and application are two very different concepts in the world of internal and external marketing communications. I know some extremely smart Marketing and Comms professionals, few of whom can use the tools of the trade (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, Video editing software etc) that would empower them to make on brand collateral. Having access to the right image/logo assets, the font libraries and a ‘brand guidelines bible’ (which is typically so in-depth that it is rendered virtually inaccessible to regular users) sounds good, but does little to impact positively on brand compliance. Top that off with chains of approval processes that still rely on individual subjectiveness - and your shiny new Website/DAM-led compliance system loses its gloss.
I hasten to add that large organizations like ANZ are heading in the right direction, but the solution they have selected won’t be the silver bullet they had hoped for. And it definitely won’t make the content creation process quicker.
We’ve learned that it’s vital to separate brand education from collateral creation. Brand education is an important step in building out internal and external employee and consumer 'belief' in the company. Building Brand belief internally and externally is one of the fundamental jobs of every employee and especially Marketing. Teach your employees to understand your brand and to 'care for it' and they'll hopefully talk about it, defend it.
This is a cultural piece and should be seen purely as that. But as I suggested earlier, if you’re relying on brand education to shift the needle, expect human behavior to get in the way. Teaching and implementing are two completely different concepts. And that's where I think Website/DAM lead brand compliance platforms are fundamentally flawed. Yes, they are a step change, but they’re not the future for real Brand Compliance. To effect real Brand Compliance across a business, you can't rely on education and application alone – it also requires a powerful technical solution that will shift that compliance needle to the top of the dial.
You need to consider DAMs, typographic libraries, visual assets, Brand Guideline documents and approval process as feature sets only. Relying on them as a ‘system’ will only lead to subjective interpretations that perpetuate brand compliance problems. This is why we've developed a Brand Management system that completely democratizes design for enterprise clients and empowers users. We've taken the features list and built them into a singular design system that anyone can access to create 100% on-brand collateral across all media channels; social, digital banners, eDMs, SMS, Video (SD, HD, for Web, for Cinema), Print (any size including brochureware) Radio etc... within minutes.
Users can create this collateral irrespective of how far they’ve waded into suffocating brand guidelines where they get lost in the labyrinth of do’s and don’ts. They can now readily access, edit and deploy assets within the DAM correctly with zero roadblocks. Approval processes are reduced to a bare minimum, because the design system keeps users perfectly aligned with their brand guidelines and makes everything straightforward with pre-approved content. What we’re talking about here is true empowerment as opposed to users becoming prisoners in a complicated brand world.
Using the MyAdbox system actually encourages people to build great content and get more messages into market. That they can do it quickly and efficiently means they get to market faster. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, more messages in market faster is paramount. And in my opinion - that's the future of brand compliance.