Brand Management 3.0: Why Brand Guidelines Stuck In PDF Are A Thing Of The Past

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B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine


Brand Management 3.0

“A brand is so much more than just a logo and colour scheme; it is the life and soul of an organization,” said Tessa Court, Founder & CEO IntelligenceBank. “If this is the case, then why do so many companies limit their brand guidelines to flat and lifeless PDF files which are difficult to update and are hard to use when producing creative?”

To answer this question and more, we had the opportunity to spend time with IntelligenceBank’s founder Tessa Court to find out how they’re enabling brand guidelines to come to life through the use of creative operations technologies.

Here’s what we learned as to why leading Australian household brands such as ANZ, NBN Co., Epworth, and Lifeblood are using IntelligenceBank’s BrandHub as their single source of truth when it comes to protecting their brand assets.


Brand Guidelines Stuck in PDF’s are a thing of the Past

Traditionally, brand guidelines have been expressed in lengthy PDF files. And while this has ‘checked the box’ previously – it has limitations around how brand guidelines are used.

For starters, the purpose of brand guidelines is to be a single point of reference for marketers, designers, and other people who directly interact with the brand. However, if your brand guidelines are limited to a PDF, you can easily have multiple versions flying around, and no single source of truth when it comes to accessing brand elements such as logos, colour swatches, icons and fonts.

Additionally, with PDF files, there is no built-in mechanism to track usage – i.e. has anyone even read the guidelines, and there is no easy way to manage creative approvals.

Why Showcase Brand Guidelines Online?

So, if storing brand guidelines in a PDF is a thing of the past, what is the alternative? The answer is to bring your brand to life with the help of a software solution like IntelligenceBank’s BrandHub.

“Take for example brands such as NAB, Medibank, and Torrens University Australia. They are just a handful of our trusted clients who have big marketing departments, multiple agencies, and in some cases overseas teams. These clients are relying on our BrandHub platform to not only safeguard their brand but also to simplify their internal processes and to further increase accessibility,” continued Tessa Court, IntelligenceBank. “In addition, when using our online brand portal, they’re telling us that they take comfort in the fact that they can dynamically showcase their brand guidelines on access controlled interactive webpages instead of flat PDF documents.”

This searchable, engaging, and user-friendly approach allows teams to quickly access approved assets, logos, colour schemes, fonts, and campaign materials. It also allows brand managers to share their brand with internal departments as well as external partners, agencies, and contractors.

IntelligenceBank’s online brand portals are uniquely able to cater to the two different types of use cases. That is, corporate users view the brand portal as a way to be educated on the brand and to follow processes such as requests and approvals, whereas designers need to be able to quickly access the brand pages to find directions on a very specific task – such as logo placement on digital banners or secondary colour choices.

How does IntelligenceBank’s Online Brand Portal Work?

An online brand portal consists of a series of interactive pages that are used to display elements such as logos (correct and incorrect usage), brand colours, icons, fonts, imagery style and layouts, stationery, brand values and strategy and other elements.  Obviously the more complex the brand, the more pages and elements a brand will have. If a master brand has several sub brands, separate pages can also be created off the same template and access permissions can determine which end users see which parts of the brand portal.

“Brand guidelines pages can be made private – such as brand strategy and tone of voice, or some pages can even be made publicly available such as logo use,” confirmed Tessa. “What’s even more compelling is when your brand guidelines are available online, you can integrate them with other brand tools as well. Alone your brand guidelines are simply used as a reference tool, but in shifting to an online brand portal you are provided with a single source of truth for brand management.”

Here are some of the other ways brand management capabilities are extended with software such as IntelligenceBank.

Dynamic Creative Templates

One of the most practical key features of an online brand portal is its ability to store and use dynamic creative templates.  Templates are created by designers in InDesign, approved by brand managers and loaded into the platform.  Brand managers decide which parts of the template users can, keeping the brand and core messaging intact.  Templates are great for reproducing banner ads, posters, and other promotional materials and brand managers can decide if the central team needs to approve the final outputs or not.

For example, teams can modify the image from a pre-approved selection to match their audience, or they can modify the terms and conditions so that it fits local regulations. Or, in the case of a regional offer, they can update the price or rate without needing to totally recreate the asset.

This feature allows for better brand alignment at the local level and ensures that teams can make the legal changes necessary to fit their market.  It also means, localisation can happen without incurring additional agency fees and local marketing teams are empowered to localize creative in a timely manner.

Digital Asset Management Integration

Brand portals work best when they come with enterprise-grade Digital Asset Management (DAM). This allows for not only the storage of all brand-approved assets, but it enables creatives to transform photos and videos on the fly before distributing them to their appropriate channels.  With an Adobe Creative Cloud Connector to your brand portal, approved brand assets can also be integrated with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign ensuring your agency teams are always using the latest and approved brand assets.

Brand Approvals Using Creative Workflows

Online brand portals are most robust and useful from a quality control standpoint when creative workflows are used to approve final artwork and assets prior to distribution.  Also, creative workflows can be used to approve those who can download files, so you can seamlessly track where brand assets are being used across the company.

The Power of One

Unlike the traditional MarTech stack which is often poorly integrated and difficult to navigate, IntelligenceBank provides multiple technologies within the one system.  This ‘power of one’ is not only a more seamless and engaging experience for the end user but ensures that no information falls through the gaps. The DAM, online brand guidelines, creative production and distribution are standalone features which need to work together.

“By having a fully integrated and interactive brand management platform, our clients confirm time and time again that they can instantly see improvements to their brand engagement,” said IntelligenceBank’s Founder & CEO. “With ‘one click’ access to brand education as well as brand management tools, our clients are witnessing dramatic improvements on consistency, creative quality and brand compliance not only internally, but with external agencies and creative freelancers. All of which is ultimately leading to increased brand value.”

Based on our time with IntelligenceBank, it’s clear to us that brand owners can no longer let their brand guidelines live statically in a PDF format and simply cross their fingers for the hope of brand eminence. Through the use of BrandHub, it’s fair to say that by digitizing your brand guidelines it most certainly removes any barriers to access and provides a healthy secure environment for brands to thrive.

See how IntelligenceBank helps the world’s largest brands keep their teams on brand – download the Brand Compliance Playbook.



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