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Bring the brand specialist in upfront

I hear it all the time and have been there too. The designer and the corporate marketing communications team (let's assume the typical setup - not integrated) are brought in at the last minute to "finish the job" on a project by "getting the word out". Nobody has consulted the marcom team to see if the project makes sense from a marketing perspective, is appealing to the customer, may have pitfalls, etc. And they think the designer is just there to slap a pretty picture on top, no need to coordinate with the strategic message or the overall brand. Lots of time and money wasted this way.

How to get over this if you are drawn into it?

1. Be honest - ask questions, raise specific concerns.
2. Stick to your core competency. Don't question the business model unless you have the technical knowledge to do so.
3. Partner with the designer if you're organizationally stovepiped. Get on the same page.
4. Do the best you can. Focus on simple, clear, credible messages about the project, even if it is not perfect.
5. Use and build a network of brand supporters to promote better brand alignment in the future.

25 Ways To Use Technology for Brand-Aligned Communication

This week I spoke at the ALI Strategic Internal Communication in Government conference about using technology to facilitate internal communication.

The starting point was that everything a communicator does, including the use of technology, should ultimately be in support of total brand alignment.

Then I progressed into a discussion of technology itself, and how to implement it effectively given a specific mission, culture, communication style, and desired brand.

Here is some actionable advice on this subject:
  1. Put your logo on every communication—external website, intranet, blog, etc.
  2. Work within the culture, not against it, to facilitate technology adoption.
  3. Keep your message consistent across channels/platforms.
  4. Purposely customize your external website to an internal audience.
  5. Use technology to facilitate human interaction, not replace it.
  6. Reassess user rights frequently to protect against information leaks.
  7. Accept criticism (e.g. via blog) but insist that employees put their name on it.
  8. Treat technology as a necessity not an option.
  9. Use technology strategically—filter information to the right people at the right time.
  10. Don’t over-write—short and simple is best online, where people scan and don’t read.
  11. Longer documents should be in deeper links that people can print if they need to.
  12. Use technology to inform your employees of an issue before the media does.
  13. Customize delivery of information according to employee usage habits—email, online, handheld device, etc.
  14. Start small and build on incremental success and word of mouth—start a revolution and it may backfire.
  15. Build in extensive support and training for new technologies.
  16. Keep print materials available—just use them sparingly.
  17. Use multiple and overlapping channels to communicate—not just one.
  18. Make the business case for incorporating new technologies—start with functional needs and move to cultural.
  19. Collaborate extensively to achieve buy-in around new technology initiatives.
  20. Keep technology simple—especially for the communicators who will use it.
  21. Evolve strategy and execution continuously—never rest on your laurels.
  22. Ask for feedback and act based on it.
  23. Obtain metrics where you can.
  24. Don’t use technology only for technology’s sake—make sure it has a communication purpose.
  25. Test your message before you send it—and check everything, to the smallest detail (including links!)