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Strategic Brand Management: How to Build, Measure, and Manage Your Strategy

A great brand is your competitive advantage. A complete brand experience connects you to your target audience and inspires lasting loyalty, improves brand recall, and is closely linked to sales performance.

Strategic brand management ensures that everything that goes into the customer, employee, and partner experience is consistent, easy-to-find, aligned with your business strategy, and used appropriately.

In this guide, we’ll explain what strategic brand management is, why it’s important, and how you can create a brand management strategy that your company can feel confident in.

What is Strategic Brand Management?

Strategic brand management is the process of setting and enforcing standards for managing all branded digital assets — internal and external. Where branding is the process of creating a brand, brand management is how you maintain it.

It’s important to note that brand management is about so much more than aesthetics. It’s about managing all elements that collectively make up a brand’s identity so that a business can convey a consistent image to the end-consumer.

Those elements include everything from packaging and press releases to blog posts, social media accounts, and the in-person experience—essentially any touchpoint where a potential customer might interact with a brand.

Brand Management vs. Brand Strategy: What’s the Difference?

The difference between strategic brand management and a brand strategy.

Determining a clear brand strategy and executing it with brand management are the steps to a strong brand identity. Your brand strategy outlines key components of your brand — such as your values, purpose, positioning, target audience, and other brand guidelines.

Brand management, on the other hand, focuses on executing that strategy through all the ongoing efforts needed to maintain your brand — like developing marketing campaigns, creating brand assets, monitoring brand performance, and ensuring your adherence to brand standards.

Brand management works harmoniously with your brand strategy to maintain a consistent brand image that strengthens over time.

Why Is Strategic Brand Management Important?

Behind every successful brand strategy is effective brand management. Whether your brand is big or small, brand management is the key to maintaining consistent brand guidelines, upholding your brand image, increasing customer loyalty, and improving your brand perception.

Without strategic brand management, your brand strategy would fall apart. Effective brand management focuses on a few key elements, including:

  • Brand Awareness: Brand awareness refers to how familiar your brand is in your industry and to your target audience.
  • Brand Experience: Brand experience refers to how customers feel when they interact with your brand.
  • Brand Identity: Brand identity refers to the brand elements that influence how customers recognize your brand, like your logo, tone and voice, or colors.
  • Brand Reputation: Brand reputation refers to how your brand is perceived in the public eye.
  • Brand Loyalty: Brand loyalty refers to why your customers keep coming back to your brand over competitors.
  • Brand Recognition: Brand recognition refers to how easily customers can identify your brand based on visual cues established by your brand identity — or if they recognize the brand by name.

Components of effective strategic brand management.

Strategic brand management focuses on addressing these specific areas, allowing you to build and control your brand across all relevant touchpoints.

6 Steps To Building a Successful Brand Management Strategy

Brand management begins with the marketing team, but involves anyone who represents your company on any channel. Your strategy should include your entire internal team, as well as vendor partners, freelancers, agencies, and influencers that act as extensions of your core business.

Now that you understand what strategic brand management is and how it helps nurture the success of your organization, let’s dive into how to build a solid brand management strategy that can future-proof your business.

1. Define Brand Values and Positioning

Your brand strategy should define clear brand values and positioning — and ensure that they align. Brand positioning refers to the unique value your brand brings to customers. What differentiates you from the competition? How do you want customers to perceive you?

Your brand positioning goes hand in hand with your brand values. Your ideal customer should resonate with your brand values, ultimately leading them to choose your brand over competitors.

To stay ahead of the competition and any changes in your industry, your brand positioning should adapt as you continuously monitor your competitors — which we’ll discuss below.

2. Prioritize Brand Reputation Management

Places to monitor your brand reputation when executing your strategic brand management strategy.

A positive brand reputation is essential to a successful brand image. Maintain your brand’s reputation by prioritizing the customer experience, consistently delivering high-quality products or services, and keeping tabs on how your audience feels about your brand.

Think of the last time you went out to eat or were thinking about making a purchase. You more than likely looked at the reviews or checked social media before you made a final decision.

Brand reputation management involves monitoring how your target audience views your brand, analyzing customer feedback, and building a connection with your audience to maintain your brand image. But how do you monitor your brand reputation? Here are a few ways:

  • Online Reviews: Reviews are typically posted to third-party sites and contribute to your business’s overall rating. Monitoring online reviews is an important part of reputation management because it gives you an honest glimpse into what customers think of your service or products. Not every review will be a positive one, and that’s okay! Responding to negative reviews effectively is crucial to maintaining a positive reputation.
  • Social Media: Online presence makes a big impact on brand reputation. You can monitor comments on your brand’s social media accounts, as well as mentions and tags. Social media is also a great place to connect with your audience to establish brand trust and loyalty.
  • Customer Testimonials: Testimonials are similar to reviews, but you can usually collect them from past customers to post on your website. If your brand has a positive interaction with a customer, leverage it by asking them for a testimonial to strengthen your brand reputation.
  • Other Online Mentions: Utilize tracking tools that alert you whenever Google or other search engines find new mentions of your brand. This is another way to monitor how your brand is being perceived so you can stay in the know.

With continuous monitoring, you’ll be able to tweak your strategy to uphold a positive brand reputation.

3. Set Up Brand Management Software

Managing a brand involves keeping track of a long list of moving parts — channels, touchpoints, and stakeholders. You’re also responsible for maintaining brand consistency, managing your reputation, and securing market share. With so much to handle, brand management software can help.

Brand management software typically provides six main functionalities — asset creation, management, distribution, storage, collaboration, and measurement. It includes a range of tools to help users create, organize, distribute, update, archive, and control all branded assets from a central library that functions as the brand’s single source of truth.

That said, not all platforms are created equal, and you’ll need to find a solution that aligns with your business strategy, industry, and internal workflows.

Bottom line: Any organization that needs help maintaining a professional, cohesive brand can benefit from brand management software, though here are a few signs that it might be time to pull the trigger:

  • You’re having trouble staying organized. Advanced tagging and labeling make it easier to store a file in one place instead of re-copying it across multiple different folders.
  • You need better version control. Brand management tools are often designed to handle version control issues, ensuring that stakeholders are always working from the latest, most relevant version of every business asset.
  • You need a secure solution for storing branded assets. Dedicated DAM tools are typically designed to ensure that your digital assets stay safe.
  • You’re working with multiple external partners. The more “cooks in the kitchen,” the harder it is to stay in control. Brand management software helps you distribute approved content to sales teams, retailers, distributors, etc., eliminating annoying requests and instances of misuse.

While brand management software is one of many tools in any marketer’s stack, these solutions play a critical, central role in creating a cohesive, on-brand experience for all stakeholders — both internal and external.

4. Establish Consistency Across Distribution Channels

Brand consistency is pivotal to your brand’s success. Of course, your visual identity must be recognizable, but brand consistency goes beyond the look of your brand. It involves maintaining your brand communication, messaging, and core values in all content and customer interactions.

Your brand consistency should be felt across all touchpoints — including your brand’s website, social media platforms, blog, and advertisements.

Develop a content strategy for each distribution channel that takes into account:

  • The audience demographic that interacts with the distribution channel
  • The type of content the channel focuses on — text, images, video, etc.
  • The ways customers interact with the channel

While the type of content you create for each platform may differ, each piece of content should still feel “on brand” and convey your unique message, letting your brand personality shine.

5. Pay Attention to Your Competitors

Successful brand management includes responding to industry and market changes. Monitor the competition to maintain your advantage. What are similar brands doing that you could do better? What are customers saying about your competitors? What does their content strategy look like?

Running a competitive analysis can help detect your brand’s strengths and weaknesses so you can find opportunities to better serve your customers.

  1. Monitor and Analyze Brand Performance Areas of focus when analyzing brand performance in your strategic brand management strategy.

Strategic brand management should be a dynamic process. Monitor your brand strategy regularly to ensure it is effective and still aligns with your core values — both internally and externally.

To measure your brand performance and success, you’ll want to look at:

  • Internal Branding: Make sure everyone in your organization is aligned on your brand standards and guidelines, like your brand identity, values, and positioning. Internal consistency will reflect on external assets and campaigns.
  • External Branding: Monitor how your target audience responds to your content and what type of assets yield the most engagement. Successful brand management depends on understanding how consumers perceive your brand assets and messaging.
  • Customer Experience: Evaluate your sales processes and track in-person and online customer interactions to learn what works and what doesn’t. A positive customer experience can lead to repeat customers and increased sales.

Once you’ve analyzed your performance, you can use your findings to inform future campaigns and strategies.

How to Choose the Best Brand Management Software for Your Organization

Executing your brand management strategy can be easier said than done, but the right brand management software can help. This software may help you organize and edit assets, collaborate internally and externally, perform analytics, and more.

Below, we’ve outlined some key features to look for in a potential solution:

  • Easily Store and Organize Brand Collateral: Look for solutions that reduce the amount of time spent manually uploading and organizing files. Custom rules that automate the tagging and organization process and sorting assets into collections, portals, and categories can make it easier for users to locate the materials they need without any training.
  • Quickly Access Brand Assets: When teams can’t find the information they need, they often take matters into their own hands and end up either misusing marketing materials or creating ad-hoc content to address perceived content gaps. A good brand management system makes it easy for stakeholders to instantly find and share the information they need to efficiently and effectively do their jobs. Important features to look for include pinned searching, auto-tagging, in-document search, filtering, and suggested search.
  • Edit and Convert Brand Files: Your brand management solution should make it easy to edit, convert, and update all digital assets from one place. This way, you can avoid wasting time switching between platforms, eliminate downloads, and get more done in less time. Features to look for include templating, resizing, integration with Adobe Suite, and video editing.
  • Set Media Rights and Permissions: Brand management software should also allow you to define rules, permissions, and usage rights that protect your digital assets. Features to look for include asset approvals, content expiration and availability, access requests, and user activity analytics.
  • Collaborate Across Brand Assets: Your software should also enable seamless collaboration between internal and external stakeholders. One main feature to look for is the ability to create custom rules that control who can access, edit, and share your digital assets. This allows external collaborators to edit some elements within a particular document while keeping the formatting, design, and other components intact.
  • Create and Share Brand Portals: Brand portals simplify access to digital assets by acting as a customizable homepage for accessing your branded assets. You can create different portals for different user segments — think sales teams, marketers, local franchises, influencers, or affiliates.
  • Measure the Impact of Brand Materials: You’ll want to look for a solution that makes it easy to monitor asset usage from a controlled, centralized location and provides in-platform analytics and reporting tools that allow you to evaluate assets from a few different angles. Look for asset-level analytics that track content usage, user analytics that drill down into individual activity, and insights that quantify the impact of brand materials on achieving big-picture goals.
  • Integrate and Streamline Existing Workflows: You’ll need to make sure that the platform you select integrates with your existing tech stack and internal workflows. This is critical because most of the benefits offered by DAM platforms come from connecting all data sources and content repositories that your organization uses on the job — like your CRM, the Adobe Creative Cloud, your sales enablement platform, and communication channels.

Streamline Strategic Brand Management With DAM

Strategic brand management helps your brand make good on its promises by delivering consistent experiences to partners and customers.With a digital asset management (DAM) platform like Brandfolder by Smartsheet, you can organize and distribute brand assets from one central location.

Users can collaborate on creative assets and campaigns, set custom rules that protect assets when you’re not watching, and help you understand how your assets are performing.

So what are you waiting for? Let us help you manage your brand with ease.