Suppliers will try to convince you otherwise, but behind the scenes I often see that brand portals are not being used effectively. This is a shame because brand portals can have huge operational benefits for your brand. During the selection process, the brand portal supplier is at the centre of attention, but once the portal is implemented and the regular routines are back up and running, then this attention drops dramatically.
As a result, roughly 80% of portals aren’t delivering what was originally expected of them. Typically, this is because implementation is seen to be a short project, after which no further attention is needed. However, it should be treated as a continuous process that is deeply anchored within the organisation.
The brand portal is the infrastructure of your brand. Roads need to be maintained, as does a brand portal
Brand portals must be anchored as one of the core processes of an organisation
Traditionally brand portals are not considered to be part of an organisation’s core processes. Corporate communications or brand management are often the owners of the brand portal and usually don’t effectively push the process out to the wider company and integrate it into the digital ecosystem. For example, colleagues who sit within the design, marketing and sales departments will all need to be able to access brand assets during their daily routines, and this could easily be facilitated by integrating the portal within other relevant applications. It is also often the case that the designated person whose role is to maintain the content of the brand portal, doesn’t make a habit of regularly updating content, adding meta data, improving the UI/UX, and activating user groups. This results in colleagues not being able to find the content that they need, or not even knowing that the portal exists. The relevance of the portal declines over time, and eventually becomes obsolete.
From standalone brand portal to integrated hub
If you switch to a Hub solution, the essence of the brand portal lives on. You can still facilitate the use and downloads of the logo and photography, as well as download or order marketing materials such as business cards and brochures. This is all accompanied by a well thought out workflow which helps to streamline processes. However, a classic brand portal is often not sufficiently integrated into the digital ecosystem. Photos and marketing materials are stored separately in the many different Web (Content) Management Systems (W(C)MS) for websites, apps, intranet systems, etc. This can take up unnecessary time, and it is difficult to maintain control of all branded content. for example: by setting up your brand portal as a Hub, you are able to publish a brochure directly to your W(C)MS. This is the best way to keep a steady grip on all your materials, and make sure that everyone is using the most up to date assets. Have a new version of a brochure? Customise it in your brand portal, and thanks to the Hub function, it is immediately available everywhere!
A practical example of integration in the core process: PIM
Product Information Management (PIM) systems are the spider in the web between the data coming from the ERP package, such as prices or product information, and related content such as packaging photography. All this data is then directly used in the e-commerce platform. It is an integrated digital highway, right at the core process. If a product and branded content are not actually related to each other, such as a picture of a bike on Amazon but the product is actually a laptop, then this is detrimental to conversion. Wouldn’t it be great if you can upload all your photography and marketing materials, and then your brand portal publishes to all digital channels including the website? That would result in the brand manager being in control of all digital brand touch points. This dream is more realistic than you might think. In addition, thanks to the explosion of digital channels, it’s now easier to maintain a consistent / coherent brand image. Maintenance of the next generation brand portal will take a lot more effort. Proper content and metadata won’t be a minor issue anymore, but crucial to well-functioning processes.
Give the users of the portal maximum support
Of course, it’s not only publishing to digital channels that matters. The design department needs the brand guidelines and photography, and sales colleagues also want to use the best photography in their PowerPoint presentations to impress their prospective clients. Are these groups actively involved in the brand portal? What content do they need exactly? By creating user personas, you can easily map the content needs of your target groups and you can ensure that everything is relevant for both your internal and external audiences. To facilitate these user groups, the content and the metadata need to be kept well up to date, otherwise users won’t be able to find what they're looking for in the brand portal.
The brand portal contributes to a stronger brand
The brand strategy is fully integrated into the organisation when the brand portal is anchored into the core processes. As a direct result, the (digital) touch points will always be on-brand – saving time and money for colleagues who use the brand. In short, a well-executed brand portal contributes to a stronger brand.