A decade ago, the world was much more one-dimensional. If you had to change your name or logo, you would create an inventory of brand touch points and work on each of those, making the necessary changes. However, due to the rise of digital, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of channels and touch points. Due to the increasing transparency that comes with digital, the world has become more direct and identities have evolved from a consistency-led approach to a coherence-led one. Whilst this is beautiful from a content perspective, the management of such experiences requires much more work. You can read trends, data-driven insights and methodologies on this in our book, Future-Proof Your Brand.

For now, I wanted to share with you some insights that we’ve gained when working on a rebrand or updating our clients’ digital presence over the last 10 years, which now makes up for 1/3 of our business.

1. The website is no longer the main focus point

The website is no longer where the real action is – it’s a hemisphere of elements that can be broken out into social media; systems and databases (and the legacy they bring); CRM; apps; third-party (reseller) sites; digital asset management; ads (PPC, Display); SEO and content.

2. Don’t underestimate the task

Due to the array of elements that need your attention, the risk is that you’ll only scratch the surface of what needs to be done. Any consumer of your brand will immediately notice a slapdash approach. Those brands who go for a comprehensive method also create a competitive advantage, as they provide a good customer journey throughout.

3. You don’t own (all) your channels

In the past, you could manage your brand by having control over most of your touch points and channels. Now, your brand is now also ‘managed’ and used by others, across their own social channels, linked to yours. In terms of a working approach, this means that a much more collaborative and agile method is necessary to be successful. Additionally, and so that you do not lose any precious time, it is imperative that you work on these streams in parallel, with constant iterations and back loops, as the process no longer has an ‘end date’.

4. Create a priority matrix in advance

Map out which channels are important to your communications for each stakeholder group and then identify how easy or difficult it will be to change them. This exercise will help you create a priority matrix, which can be used as your plan of action. The channels should be plotted against available resources, money and time. This is crucial, as it’ll enable you to see where your focus should be – from both an impact and resources viewpoint, before you begin the journey.

"No longer can you control processes by (attempting) to police them - people don’t want to be policed anyway. They want to be equipped, informed and enabled to work with an organisation’s brand."

5. Utilise a digital asset database

The brand guidelines era is in the past. Now, the way to create a comprehensive brand experience is to identify which elements (assets) are core and to develop these for use across all channels and touch points. This is typically a project management – and software-led task – an encompassing brand asset library to act as the ‘Lego bricks’ that build your identity and brand experience. It’s no longer enough for a brand to be coherent, it also needs to be dynamic and fluid.

6. Content is where the heart is

Without content, knowing what your brand stands for and how to express it to the world, your brand won’t function. Our vision is that content management should be an in-house task. The ability to create relevant, agile content starts with knowing your organisation inside out. Building a Brand Ambassador network to harness and polish the pearls of wisdom that exist is key in its distribution to the wider community.

7. Brand governance is more important than ever

As I mentioned before, the main approach has shifted from consistency to coherency. No longer can you control processes by (attempting) to police them – people don’t want to be policed anyway. They want to be equipped, informed and enabled to work with an organisation’s brand, both internally and externally. As a result, properly considering how your brand governance is set up is crucial. It means assessing where you want to be in the balance between policy and community thinking to manage your future brand governance.

8. Think mobile, first

Your starting point is not the PC or the Mac. It’s the 5-ish inch screen that fits in your pocket; the device you have by your side, 24-hours a day. To think that you can tackle brand challenges from the PC down to mobile is putting the cart before the horse – yet this is what we’re seeing in almost any organisation. It requires a paradigm shift and is a psychological challenge, as most decision makers have not grown up with mobile.

As always, I’m happy to discuss or engage on any of these topics, and we have a host of other insights that we can share on this subject. Thanks for reading!