Brand Management in Ten Minutes Will Save You Hours

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 18, 2010 in: Branding, Tips in 10

When you first plant a garden, it looks just the way you want it: Neatly trimmed and ordered. Over time, though, it starts to grow and grow; it gets shaggy, it grows over the barriers. Unwanted weeds appear. Without careful trimming and management, your garden can look terrible, but with careful management, your garden will look great.

A brand is like a garden. You plant your brand the way you want it, adding a picture here or a logo there or a bio somewhere else. It looks neatly trimmed and ordered. Over time, though, it starts to grow. It can become unwieldy without very careful management. As a business owner trying to build an online presence, it can become all too easy to create a brand and push it out onto the web only to lose control of it.

In this article of Tips In Ten, I want to give you a way to easily manage your brand in just ten minutes.

A lot of entrepreneurs don’t take the time to pull their branded elements together. Instead, their branded elements are scattered around in folders on their computer: Photos are in photo album folders, logos of various sizes are in website folders and folders from logo designers, and bios and blurbs and summaries and “About Me” text files are here or there.

This is the cause of “weed-strewn” brands that grow out of control and take hours to get back under control. So the two ten-minute steps you’ll do are:

  • First, set up a consolidated system where all of your branded elements are in one place and easy to find. Do this once, in just ten minutes, to pull everything together and create a centralized brand hub.
  • Second, revisit this brand hub and compare it to your current branding around the web to make sure it is up to date. Do this once a month, spending just ten minutes a month, to make sure that it’s all together.

Ten minutes to set it all up
The first thing you’ll want to do is take 10 minutes and pull together all of your branded elements into one file.

Start by creating a folder called “Brand Management” or “Brand Hub” or “Master Brand” or something like that.

  • Add the photos you’ve used in various places (i.e., photos of you or your company mascot or whatever branded pictures you use).
  • Add the image files of any images you use (i.e., logos, ebook covers etc.)
  • Add any text-based content that you use as a brand (i.e., tag-lines, article blurbs, bios, etc.

Once you’ve pulled them together, you’ll need to sort, consolidate, and rename them. Consolidating is easy: Just open the files and delete the ones that are exactly the same but have different file names. Then to sort and rename, here’s what I would recommend:

Create naming conventions that you’ll adhere to. For example, if there are several pictures of my logo in various configurations, I might call them:

  • HV_logo_-_color_-_hi-res
  • HV_logo_-_color_-_lo-res
  • HV_logo_-_bw_-_hi-res
  • HV_logo_-_bw_-_lo-res

These logo files are named for what they are (logo), their color (or bw for black and white), and their resolution.

And if I have photos, I might name them like this:

  • HV_photo_-_color_-_hi-res_large
  • HV_photo_-_color_-_hi-res_med
  • HV_photo_-_color_-_hi-res_small
  • HV_photo_-_bw_-_hi-res_large
  • HV_photo_-_bw_-_hi-res_med
  • HV_photo_-_bw_-_hi-res_small

These photo files are named for what they are (photo), their color (or black and white), their resolution (in this case they are all high resolution but if I have low resolution files I can easily include them here), and the size of the picture.

You might also consider adding the name of where you use it if it is a unique size or shape to comply with something. For example, I might have a file called:

  • HV_logo_-_color_-_lo-res_Twitter-background

Once you’ve named everything, if you have your source files, write the name of the file and add the word “_SOURCE” at the end of the filename. So I might have a file name for a source file that looks like this:

  • HV_logo_-_color_-_hi-res_SOURCE

By doing this, you’ll easily eliminate the many duplicates that can build up over time. And, after you’ve renamed your image files, you can easily keep them sorted and viewable in one folder. If you have a lot of files, you might consider collecting all the sources into their own separate folder within your brand management folder, but that is up to you.

Okay, that’s what I do with images and photos. With text, it’s a little easier. I tend to keep all my bios in text (.txt) files because it might be used to cut and paste into an online text box (which doesn’t always nicely paste from a Word document). I usually have one long bio that is shortened into a medium-sized bio, a short bio, and a one-line bio and I keep “clean” and html-ready versions of each bio.

The one line might be copied and pasted into Twitter, the short bio is useful for article resource boxes, the medium bio might be appropriate for an introductory email or to put at the end of a proposal, and the long bio can be found on my website. Although there might be some slight variations, it can generally be the same bio.

Next, create an excel spreadsheet or Word doc chart with just two columns: In the first column, write down the URL where you have branded yourself and in the second column write down the brand element file name. Then, every time you make a change to one of those branded resources, you simply check your spreadsheet to see where it was used and you update those sites.

So let’s say that your spreadsheet looks like this:

Now, whenever you make a change to any of your brand element files, you simply open up this spreadsheet and see which sites it impacts. So if I were to get a new headshot, I can see that it impacts Twitter and Squidoo I would delegate that I need to have these sites updated.

Managing your brand
As mentioned above, every time you update one of your brand elements, you need to open your brand management chart and see what is impacted by the change and update the file at that site. But it’s also helpful to do some proactive management at regular intervals as well.

Schedule ten minutes every month to open up your brand management folder and review the files inside. Are the logos and photos still relevant? Have you used anything else in the past month? Are the bios still up-to-date? Have you written anything else in the past month?

Then, open up the chart and check the URLs. Have you been to that site recently? Do the brand elements listed still reflect what you want to communicate at that website? Are there brand improvements you can make to the site? Are there additional branding opportunities you haven’t used yet? Are there seasonal changes you can make to your brand at that location? (An example of this might be adding a festive hat during the Christmas season).

While you’re reviewing the URLs, think about what hasn’t been listed. Perhaps there is a new site you’ve just started using that you haven’t included here. Add it to the list and make sure that the right file names are recorded. It only takes a moment and it can help you keep your brand neat and tidy online.

This part won’t take long, especially if you do it every month. In fact, it’s likely that it will take only one or two minutes each month instead of ten, but set aside ten just in case.

Your brand helps to position you and lock your name in the minds of your prospects and customers. Effective brand management using the method I’ve described above will help to ensure that you maintain control over that brand.

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