Brand Center: To Build, or Not to Build – That is the Question

If you have gone through a brand refresh in the last 24 months or have one on the horizon, one of the challenges you’ll be facing is how to drive consistency and also maintain excitement and momentum around the new brand for years to come. Today, most organizations rely on some type of online brand management center or DAM (Digital Asset Management) tool. The big question facing most brand leaders in charge of governance (or stewardship if you prefer the softer approach) is whether you should build your brand center internally or buy one in the marketplace?

The SharePoint Curse
Large organizations have long wrestled with the idea of building new enterprise applications as opposed to buying a ready-made solution. Much of the decision is driven by the IT leader’s philosophy. Many believe that they have the skills, knowledge, and time to serve internal business partners.

Those in favor of buying realize the benefits of outside expertise and not reinventing the wheel. They assess the trade-offs against the need to host or support another system, eliminating undue stress on current resources and infrastructure.

For brand leaders, the worst of both worlds arrives when you’re forced to use SharePoint – a solution that is neither customized and built internally nor is it an adequate fit for purpose for the needs of a modern brand center.

Build vs. Buy?
Based on conversations and interviews with brand leaders responsible for governance, we’ve pulled together the key factors that you can use with your I.T. counterpart to inform whether your company is best suited to bring in outside expertise or go solo.

 

You might BUILD if…

You might BUY if…

Software is a core competency at your organization and you have the developer skills in-house.

Outside expertise in brand governance and employee engagement is considered an important part of making the brand center a success.

Your organization is unique to the point where only you understand the needs of your brand center and custom development is the most viable option.

You want to learn from your peers and incorporate best practices from a community featuring some of the world’s biggest brands.

All you are looking for is a repository of marketing assets to be used by just the marketing team.

Brand is a valuable and strategic asset and your brand center is the place for all employees to go to learn, live, and engage with the brand.

The focus is on creating a solution that works for today and you’re not concerned about making ongoing improvements or a phase 2.

Your brand center should meet the needs not just for today, but for the ongoing developments in brand management and brand governance.

Budget sits with the IT department and the creation of a brand center will not cost you anything.

Firewall or security restrictions restrict agencies, vendors, and partners from easily gaining access to brand guidelines and assets.

Building a brand center is easily integrated into an existing platform that is widely-used and engaging.

ROI metrics, reporting, and benchmarking are important features. These are often the first things overlooked or ignored when building internally.

 

Persuading I.T.
Many brand leaders who are frustrated with having to use an inadequate internal system like SharePoint feel frustrated and powerless under the strong-arm of I.T. To help others in a similar position, we asked a number of our clients to share with us ways in which they were able to influence the CIO to make an exception.

Here are some of the important questions to ask:

1. What other competing priorities are on the horizon? 
A project such as this typically takes longer to build internally than might be anticipated. It’s also not the only thing IT will be working on, so be sure to get a firm commitment to your timeline so as not to delay a potential brand launch or lose the momentum from a rebrand that has already taken place.

2. What other exceptions have been made to the rule? 
While many organizations insist on building all of their own software, there are usually a few exceptions to the rule. Meanwhile, cloud computing has become much more widely accepted within large enterprise environments. For example, even the most fervent build-minded CIO would struggle to make the case for building their own CRM instead of using a best-in-class solution like SalesForce. Find out why an exception was made and figure out if you could apply similar logic to making the case for your brand center.

3. What’s the plan for phase 2?
A successful brand center is not one that is developed and then forgotten about. Yet, IT priorities rarely account for incremental improvements to an existing platform. Over time your system and functionality will become stale and its ability to drive engagement will dissipate, turning it into an unwieldy uninspiring repository of assets. You need an ongoing commitment from IT that the brand center will be continuously improved and that there will be a roadmap.

4. What does the development plan look like? 
Be careful not to underestimate the scope of the project. Creating a brand center requires a detailed development plan including everything from outlining the goals to setting editorial guidelines to final launch plan. IT teams will only look at the technical aspects, but other tasks such as understanding user needs and creating a successful launch plan will end up falling on your lap. Having an external brand center partner who is an expert in ensuring the successful launch and adoption of your brand center can remove a huge weight.

This is far from a finite list of ways to evaluate whether you should build your own brand center or buy a packaged brand management software. Our goal is to update this post regularly including new learnings and stories from brand leaders who have successfully made the case to go best-in-class.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have a story, please share it with us by emailing: gcohen@monigle.com.

Learn more about how BEAM has reinvented the brand center for brands such as Deloitte, Allstate, USA Today, and BNY Mellon at beam.monigle.com.