Your marketing efforts are in a constant state of ebb and flow; campaigns come and go, new ideas spring up and your brand gets updated periodically. Inevitably, this means that you will, at some point, end up with assets that simply aren’t in line with your existing brand.

The big problem with this of course is that customers don’t understand your brand timeline. They encounter your marketing messages synchronically, adding each message they encounter to a holistic view of your overall brand. If they’re constantly encountering brand messages from different stages in that lifecycle, they’re going to end up with a confused understanding of who you are and what you stand for.

That’s why this week, we’re looking at the three key steps you’ll need to go through to keep your brand in line year-round. They might seem like a lot of work up front, but you’ll end up saving yourself a lot of effort down the road. Let’s take a look.

1. Create an asset management system

The first step in the process is knowing what assets you have live and how they’re being used. That means building an asset management system that gives you a comprehensive view of your marketing mix. And, yes, that will involve tracking down every marketing asset you have out there. See what we mean by a lot of work?

Fortunately, there are several tools out there that can help you track, store and label all your marketing assets. These Digital Asset Management tools (DAMs) make the task a whole lot easier. Make sure to use a standardised naming system that makes every asset searchable. Once you have them all in place, you’ll have a roadmap to updating your brand messaging.

2. Build your assessment framework

With step one complete, you’ll need some way to judge whether each asset in your system is on-brand. The place to start is figuring out exactly what on-brand means to you. 

The University Brand Personality Scale is an excellent way to quantify and measure brand voice. Elements such as reading level of formality may also be important to your brand. Take a look at our article on crafting a brand voice for more brand measurement tools. And don’t forget to assess brand basics like colours, logos, fonts and imagery, too. These design elements lend a great deal to the overall brand tone.

As much as we’d like branding to be all science, there’s also an art to it, too. We’re dealing with the way these assets make us feel after all. Sometimes, you’ll simply need to go with your gut. If something ticks all the boxes but just doesn’t feel like it belongs, you’re within your rights to mark it down. Chances are, there’s something going on there that isn’t immediately apparent. An example could be that the asset doesn’t reflect your university values or mission statement. 

3. Choose between update and purge

Eventually, you’re going to come across assets that simply don’t live up to your standards. Just because you have an asset live, doesn’t mean that it’s actually doing its job or adding anything to your brand position. Where that is the case, you have a choice to make – update it to fit your content goals or pull it out of service.

If you’ve done a great job with step two, it should be easy for you to judge whether an asset is on-brand or not. What could be trickier is finding out why an asset is underperforming. If you’re not sure, try tracing the lifecycle of the asset; find out who made it, who’s managing it right now and pull as much data as you can find on its performance. 

Ultimately, you might discover that it’s just not worth keeping an asset live. If that’s the case, you’ll need to take it out of circulation. However, don’t toss it in the trash – every failed piece of marketing collateral is an opportunity to learn more about your audience. Make sure you archive it somewhere safe and file some notes on why it didn’t perform to expectations. Those learnings could be invaluable to you further down the road.

For more advice on managing a successful university brand, get in touch with the team here at The Brand Education. We’re always excited to speak to marketers at the forefront of our industry.