Software increasingly plays a vital role in successful brand development. Gone are the days of an immovable strategy, hard copy brand guidelines and only a few channels in which to advertise. To manage the expansion of brand and brand management, a proliferation of software now supports the modern marketer and brand manager.
Traditional brand development
Historically brand development was driven by creatives. Developing a brand was manual, and mass market campaigns were at the core of the effort. In a less-crowded market, ad agencies set the agenda for brands and chose simple channels in which to shout their message. Targeting and segmentation weren't in the lexicon, and there were primarily four channels to choose from - print, radio, television and direct mail.
When agencies introduced their comprehensive support of 'brand' for companies, much of brand was built using differentiation through advertising campaigns, rather than the core promise and proposition.
Moden brand development
As the number of brands in the market increased, there was an opportunity to improve targeting and segmentation, to carve out a niche. As the number of brands increased, so did the number of agencies to drive creative and advertising. And each of these agencies, of course, needed to differentiate their brand from the others to secure business.
The amount of disposable income also increased, and now we start to see more moving parts, supported by the increase of computers within the workplace and then the internet.
With the world of brand and advertising now having so many components, it was time for a saviour.
Software's rising role in brand development
With more than 6700 martech solutions from more than 6200 vendors, we can see the prevalence of software in the brand and marketing domain. With a landscape as detailed as this, the software needed to manage it is also detailed, and niche. Let's look at how software has aided some critical areas of brand development and branding.
It's a little bit like the chicken and the egg - which came first?
We, as humans, like to be put at the centre of our universe, and brands know they can move our levers by doing that. The more segmented and the more personalised the marketing, the more likely we are to be receptive to it.
Did the technology push marketers to work this way, or did marketers see an opportunity to create a more meaningful experience and software development followed that movement?
Once we, as consumers, had experienced a little bit of targeting, did we drive the expectation of more targeting? Or were we passengers as brands drove the innovation for their benefits?
Customer Relationship Management
It benefits brands to know as much detail as they can about their customers. With lots of salespeople on the ground (before the internet of course), this was kept using hard copy notes, and as technology progressed, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system developed.
A CRM (or database) is crucial for targeted, personalised communication. The CRM allows sales and marketing teams to build personalised communication, either genuine 1:1 or using the smarts of marketing automation to appear 1:1.
Marketing automation uses the details in a CRM to personalised and dynamic content, based on more information within the database. It traditionally relies on several types of data breakdowns - segmentation, personalisation and tokenisation.
Marketing automation platforms allow you to work with small segments of your database (being careful to know the point of diminishing return) to maximise the brand perception by crafting and delivering targeted messages based on these different audiences.
Marketing Resource Management
As brands grew, and companies grew, around countries and the globe, managing the resources that went into building a national and multi-national brand became a complex undertaking.
Marketing resource management (MRM) allows brands to have visibility over strategy, budgets, resources, planning, suppliers, workloads, campaigns and approvals from a central platform - they enable brands to plan and budget marketing campaigns while developing projects and content within the system.
With so many diverse data sets and activities, reporting software is a necessary piece of the brand development puzzle. Understanding the impact and outcome of the decisions we make as marketers is vital. We build better brands when we can use ROI and measurement to chart and correct our strategy and outcomes.
A different generation of marketers used to lump all expenditure together as 'brand awareness' and say it was all vital but could demonstrate the impact it was making to revenue. The current generation of marketers uses reporting software to guide their decision making and can happily point to results in financial meetings.
Content Management Systems
Managing the narrative for a large brand, across dozens of internal and external platforms is complicated, and with so many stakeholders responsible for delivering the message, content management and content marketing systems became necessary software for brand development.
Websites need to be updated regularly and now host dynamic content; social channels and the functions within these proliferate; advertising platforms are complex beasts with A/B testing, a myriad of sizes and placements; word limits push your messaging ingenuity to the very edge.
Content management and content marketing systems allow marketing and brand teams to control and apply the right messaging and format, while also ensuring visibility over content assets, and must for strong brand compliance.
Digital Asset Management
Alongside the messaging sits the assets used to build content. These assets are used around the globe, in dozens of channels; they need to be resized and reused, and they need to be used correctly.
With designers outside agency either using the brand assets or developing the brand assets, it is necessary for brand managers and marketers to store their assets centrally to be used by anyone who needs. A Digital Asset Management system (DAM) is used in brand development to move away from risky hard-drives, disorganised central drives and *shudder* CDs from photographers and agencies. A DAM is built for the right taxonomy and users are managed to ensure better practice use of assets.
The Outfit platform is a new breed of online brand management. It isn't just a cloud storage solution for your brand assets; it is brand management software that allows anyone in your organisation to use your brand assets to produce marketing and sales collateral.
Brand management software to ensure your brand is rigorously controlled but able to be used by anyone, not just a graphic designer. A brand management solution to empower your team and your whole organisation.