How can you ensure brand consistency in the materials produced by people across your firm? This thorny question was the topic of the breakfast we organised in London, on Tuesday the 26th of February.
Brand consistency often means the difference between earning a customer’s business or losing them to the competition. No wonder professional services firms invest so much time and resources striving to achieve it. However, taking up that challenge is a major difficulty for Marketing and Communications teams within large firms: “Just getting people to use your PowerPoint template can be hard”, testifies Beverley Lowry, In-house Design at KPMG and one of the panellists. This breakfast was an occasion for professional services leaders – including our panellists from Citi Private Bank, KPMG and Clarksons – to share their ideas and best practices.
4 best practices to ensure brand consistency
1. Identify the off-brand
When it comes to brand consistency, every single detail is important. For example, take the opportunity of a rebranding project to audit all the available materials and make sure everything is consistent; not only corporate templates and visuals but also disclaimers, legal mentions and email signatures. Sometimes, business lines are not even aware of the company’s brand guidelines and helping them rebrand their assets can help them realise the importance of speaking with one voice.
“Explaining why is the bit that’s missing sometimes, we’re also here to help the teams with that” – Samantha Cottle, Marketing Director, Clarksons
2. Leverage a centralised knowledge management platform
Intranets, shared files, wikis, SharePoint sites… Multiplying tools is the worst enemy of consistency. It tends to scatter assets and makes it very difficult to monitor them. Providing centralised, easy access to the most up-to-date, approved brand materials – such as logos, templates, images, and even copy – goes a long way in ensuring brand consistency. For example, at Citi Private Bank, “we built a tool internally as central repository”, says Ben Roberts, Head of Innovation EMEA. “Collaboration is key – with multiple product areas and different slide creators, it is important to know what is the ‘golden source’.”
3. Empower teams
A lot of branding mistakes happen when business lines don’t have the right assets for their specific needs. Why not involve them in the process during a redesign rather than trying to make decisions on their behalf? It starts by implementing the right tools – for example, everyone in the firm should have access to corporate templates by default in PowerPoint, Excel and Word.
However, even with the right tools, defining clear do’s and don’ts is crucial to empowering teams and helping them to become autonomous in their content production. A best practice is to name ambassadors who will pay attention to detail and ensure consistency within their team.
“At Clarksons, we appointed brand evangelists, senior people spreading the word”, tells Samantha Cottle.
4. Conduct change management
It’s always tricky to change habits and ways of working. People tend to be reluctant to change until you show them a real, personal benefit in the new solution you offer.
“We decided to organise very quick training for Office users, and just trying to convince people to get in the room was the hardest thing!”, confirms Samantha Cottle.
To embark people, it’s best to start with their first needs and the things they crave for, such as saving time! “I saw people spending hours doing things like making sure fonts are the same in a client pitch”, says Ben Roberts. “Having a centralised content database was incredibly useful for them.”
Listen to our panellists’ personal tips to ensure consistency:
“Don’t apologize for saying to people “this is off-brand”; we’re all expected to be Brand Champions.” – Beverley Lowry, In-house Design, KPMG
“Getting people to engage with new approaches and technology is challenging. I have found that you are best to start with something small and highly relevant to open the door to future participation.” – Ben Roberts, Head of Innovation EMEA, Citi Private Bank
“Highlight those who set a good example to encourage people to do the same – for example by featuring the top three users!” – Samantha Cottle, Marketing Director, Clarksons
Thanks to our panellists and attendees; we look forward to the next edition!