Brand governance: The 2024 edition 

brand governance_header

28% of medium to large-sized companies estimate that brand dilution costs their business between $6 and $10 million. Every. Single. Year.

Proper brand governance can combat this, maintaining consistency across all your messaging, and visuals. But it’s easier said than done. Especially in regulated industries like consumer goods and pharma.

An increase in marketing channels means your brand is creating more content than ever before, and distributing it across a wider audience. If not managed properly, that leaves room for inconsistencies, errors, and compliance red flags. 

Not to mention brand dilution.

So, what does brand governance look like in 2024? How are top players doing it? And what can you learn?

Keep reading to find out. 

Why brand governance matters

There’s a reason why Pepsi spent $1 million on its logo or why Tropicana forked out $35 million for that packaging redesign. It’s because branding matters.

Brand governance is the protector of the realm, keeping your identity cohesive across all platforms. Here are four of the biggest advantages.

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Makes your brand instantly recognizable

The best brands in the world have one thing in common: Cohesive branding across every piece of content and consumer experience. 

When you nail this piece of the puzzle, your consumers will connect with your brand more. 

They’ll also be able to immediately recognize your content across different channels, from packaging to social media posts to TV spots.

Interestingly, a cohesive and recognizable brand identity can increase business revenue by as much as 23%.

When it comes to making a purchase, the vast majority of us pick the brand that comes to our mind on that day.

That’s why every branded asset should be instantly recognizable and attributed to your company.

Geico’s Gecko is a great example.

Research shows that 87% of consumers recognize the gecko asset, and 98% know it belongs to Geico.

geico

Source: Instagram

Builds brand trust

Brand governance keeps content consistent across all channels and platforms – from social media to your point of sale materials. That’s a big deal for a number of reasons.

Firstly, presenting your brand consistently across all touchpoints can boost revenue by as much as 33%.

And that’s not all.

The more consistent your branded content is, the more your customers will trust you. Think of McDonald’s. One of the biggest drivers behind its ongoing success is brand consistency.

The visual branding, the product quality, the in-store experience … you can walk into a McDonald’s restaurant anywhere in the world and know exactly what to expect. That makes us feel safe. 

When we consider that 81% of consumers need to trust a brand to consider buying from it, a content governance strategy is worth the investment.

mcdonalds

Source: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash 

We asked Sergey Taver, the marketing manager of Precision Watches, for his thoughts on building and maintaining brand trust. He highlighted the important role of customer support in your brand governance strategy. 

According to Taver, poor after-sales support and a lack of personalization can undo all your hard work to solidify your brand.

“Many brands focus solely on making sales without investing in long-term relationships with their customers. Poor after-sales support can further erode trust, showing that you’re only interested in making a sale but don’t want to offer further assistance after making one.”

Sergey Taver, Marketing Manager at Precision Watches

He recommends prioritizing personalization and customer engagement, making sure all communication aligns with your brand vision.

Reduces compliance issues

A solid brand governance framework can be a great form of defense against compliance breaches during the artwork management process. Why? Because it keeps all your teams aligned so your messaging, claims, and marketing content is always on point.

We’re creating more brand assets than ever before and sharing them across more communication channels. That’s great for exposure, but it also exposes you to more risks. It only takes one error in one piece of content (be it packaging artwork or a billboard campaign) to land you in hot water. 

Cue fines and damage to your brand reputation.

The average cost of a compliance incident ranges from $8,000 for SMEs up to more than $200,000 for enterprises, so that’s not a risk you want to take. 

The more comprehensive your governance strategy, the easier it is to maintain brand compliance.

I asked Roman Zrazhevskiy, the founder of MIRA Safety, how brand compliance impacts the consumer goods industry.

“In the consumer goods industry, particularly for a brand like ours that specializes in PPE, the biggest challenge we face related to content production is ensuring compliance with stringent regulations.”

Roman Zrazhevskiy, Founder & CEO at MIRA Safety

Zrazhevskiy added, 

“Our content must accurately represent product capabilities and meet regulatory standards, which means every piece undergoes a thorough review and approval process. This rigorous process can slow down content production significantly, but it’s crucial for maintaining trust and credibility.” 

His big takeaway is to supplement brand governance with clear content creation workflows.

Simplifies localization projects

65% of consumers prefer content in their own language, meaning most companies need a solid localization strategy.

A robust corporate brand management system makes this process a whole lot easier. You can align global and regional teams to make sure your content maintains your brand identity while appealing to a specific audience segment.

That allows you to expand into regional markets without diluting your brand. It also helps you build and maintain strong customer relationships across different regions.

How modern brand governance is changing

Back in the good old days, it was easy to police your branding. All you needed were some comprehensive brand guidelines and a governance team to keep everyone in check. 

The governance team would oversee every asset to make sure it aligned with the brand tone of voice, visual identity, and messaging.

But things are different now.

We have more stakeholders, more content, and more touchpoints. So naturally, modern brand governance best practices need to evolve.

Three killer brand governance examples from regulated industries

Now, let’s look at how the heavy hitters do it. I’ve rounded up some examples of successful brand governance from regulated industries. 

These three companies are famous for their consistent brand identity

1. Consumer goods – Heinz

Source: Heinz

Heinz is one of the most famous brands in the world, and it has been since 1869. Its consumers are known for their die-hard love of the brand, paying higher prices, and even getting tattoos of their favorite Heinz products. 

But what’s the secret sauce?

I think it boils down to a great product and exceptional brand consistency.

Every element of the Heinz brand is on point. From the bottle to the logo to the marketing campaigns. 

This success has led the brand on a new mission to become a global “food icon”. 

It recently launched its first platform, “It Has to be HEINZ”, in a bid to unify the brand even more.

“As we looked to unify the brand under one global brand platform, we dove into the world of our consumers and found that they all shared one thing: The irrational lengths they go to for HEINZ products.” –  Diana Frost, Chief Growth Officer, North American Zone at The Kraft HEINZ Company. 

heinz 2

Source: Heinz

2. Beauty – Charlotte Tilbury

charlotte tilbury

Source: Instagram

Charlotte Tilbury is a British beauty company with an impeccable brand strategy. The award-winning brand has earned over 300 global accolades and developed a cult following.

More specifically, Charlotte Tilbury is absolutely killing it on social media, with a reach of more than seven million.

In my opinion, the beauty brand’s huge success is down to several factors:

  • The founder is an amazing influencer – it always helps when the captain of the ship leads from the front with a strong personal brand
  • Great product branding – customers happily pay premium prices because they love the products
  • Amazing brand governance – Charlotte Tilbury presents a consistently pitch-perfect brand identity across every digital platform 
  • Excellent marketing campaigns – the brand isn’t afraid to take risks and be bold with its marketing strategies

I can’t mention Charlotte Tilbury without shouting out its latest email marketing stunt. 

Subscribers received an email that looked like it had been sent out by mistake. The “leaked” internal email talked about a new product that was about to launch and even included a top-secret waiting list.

It turns out it was just a very clever PR stunt to generate buzz ahead of the product launch. Genius! 

3. Consumer electronics – Apple

Apple

Source: Apple

Apple is officially the most valuable brand in the world. But how does it beat the competition?

It all starts with excellent positioning. Apple’s positioning is based on three pillars: 

  • Innovation
  • Design
  • Customer experience

These pillars act as a compass guiding every aspect of the Apple brand, from the product to the messaging to its marketing strategy.

Visual elements are always sleek and minimalist, helping it maintain its iconic brand identity. 

Just like McDonald’s, you know exactly where you are when you walk into an Apple store. The experience is consistent and cohesive.

Just like Heinz, Apple’s consistency turns customers into brand advocates who are happy to pay more for its products (and stand in line for hours when new products launch).

One thing’s for sure, its branding has come a long way since its first commercial back in 1984. 😱

1984 Apple’s First Macintosh Commercial

Three best practices for more effective brand governance

The average cost of non-compliance has risen 45% in the past decade. That puts even more pressure on businesses to nail their brand governance strategy. 

If it’s too lenient, that can lead to costly fines, reputation damage, and recalls. But if it’s too strict, you’ll never have any creative content to engage your audience and attract new customers.

Here are three best practices to help you.

1. Move from “brand police” to “brand enablers”

It’s time to hang up your Sheriff’s badge because it’s not possible to police brand governance like we used to.

With the sheer volume of content companies create these days, the role of brand governance teams (and other marketing compliance reviewers) has changed. 

Now it’s all about providing clear creative guidelines, prompts, and templates for getting branded content right.

What does that even look like? First, you have to know where you can be flexible and where you still need to rule with an iron fist. What are the non-negotiables?

For instance, inconsistent logos, typography, and messaging are a no-no. But there may be some wiggle-room when it comes to tone of voice across different social media platforms. 

Your brand identity guidelines should lay this out clearly, explaining the “why” behind your decisions. More on that below.

2. Nail your brand guidelines

Document everything. How do you talk about your brand? What do consumers feel when they see your logo? How do you talk to your customers? 

The clearer your guidelines, the more effective brand governance will be. It also allows you to de-centralize decision-making so more collaborators can make informed content choices.

This may seem obvious, but too many companies are falling short. Research from Marq revealed that while 85% of organizations have brand guidelines, just 30% enforce them consistently. 🤯

And don’t forget, external PR teams and press teams also need access to these guidelines.

Starbucks is a prime example of brand guidelines done right. It gives clear instructions on everything from brand voice to typography to color palettes.

I especially love the voice guidelines. They separate Starbuck’s two voices: “expressive” and “functional”. For clarity, the guidelines share examples of how to use each voice across different brand materials.

Source: Starbucks 

3. Build a rock-solid review and approval process

Our research shows it takes an average of eight days and three versions to get each branded asset approved. And approval processes can take much longer in regulated industries like beauty, consumer electronics, and travel.

This is where a solid review and approval process saves the day.

Building a structured workflow makes it easier to manage brand assets, review them efficiently, and maintain a clear record for auditing purposes.

The first step is to implement online proofing software.

For example, with Filestage you can:

  • Automate time-consuming tasks to speed up content reviews by 30%
  • Build custom reviewer groups to make sure the right stakeholders sign off at the relevant stage of the process
  • Annotate visual assets with in-context feedback and convert it into actionable to-do lists
  • Centralize all feedback and content versions for a streamlined review process

Here’s how your creative projects can look with Filestage.

project dashboard brochure

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Brand governance FAQs

What is brand governance?

Brand governance is a system of tools and strategies that helps companies present their brand consistently and cohesively across all touchpoints. 

Brand governance typically covers:

  • Your brand’s visual identity 
  • Messaging and tone of voice
  • Your brand story 
  • How branded assets are presented

What are the benefits of brand governance?

Successful brand governance can benefit your business in a number of ways:

  • Increases brand recognition – consistent brand elements make it easier for your audience to recognize and recall your business.
  • Enhances customer experience – it unifies brand experiences across all touchpoints for higher customer satisfaction.
  • Reduces the risk of misrepresentation – clear brand guidelines protect your business from inconsistencies and compliance errors.
  • Drives brand value – consistent messaging across all branded assets builds customer trust and loyalty.

Who’s in charge of brand governance?

That depends on your organization. Here are some common approaches:

  • Brand governance team – larger companies typically have a dedicated team to develop and enforce brand guidelines.
  • Brand manager – companies with a brand team usually appoint a manager who works closely with other departments to maintain brand consistency.
  • Marketing team – smaller companies typically rely on the marketing team to manage brand guidelines and creative assets.
  • Cross-functional teams – many organizations set up cross-functional teams (marketing, sales, legal, customer service) to oversee brand compliance.

External agencies and partners also play a role in effective brand management.

Solidify your brand governance strategy with Filestage

Brand management takes a village. Marketing teams, brand managers, and legal must all work together to maintain consistency.

Defining clear brand guidelines is the first step. But with brand compliance more important than ever, most companies need more.

That’s where a robust review and approval process comes in. With the right software, you can effectively manage all assets to meet compliance requirements and maintain a consistent brand identity.

Ready to optimize brand governance in your organization? Start a free seven-day Filestage trial today.