In my last blog I very briefly touched on Brand Control as a medium strength problem you can solve for your customers using Web to Print. This got me thinking about why this is the case and the conclusion I came to is that it’s because most SMEs don’t think about their brand much at all. It is one of those low priority problems that many just never get round to sorting out.
I have been very fortunate over my career so far to work for a wide variety of companies in terms of industries and sizes. From companies with tens of thousands of employees in hundreds of offices to companies with a few people in a porta cabin. From what I have seen, big companies just respect their brand more. In fact they go further than respect, they fight to keep brand integrity intact all the time. Of course their brands have huge valuations attached to them so they have to think like this.
There are no reasons why SMEs can’t control their brand and quite a few why they should. Just as an example, when more than one person from a company comes to visit you and they hand you different business cards, one with current branding, one with the old (or even one with the old branding, one with even older!), it does stand out, even to someone like me who is not very observant. In fact the one with the older branded cards will often try to explain it away or apologise for it, which highlights it even further. It is not business critical, but at the back of my mind it has been filed away as an oddity.
Why does it happen? Well I would argue that it is either that there is no brand control or no quantity control. No one likes waste and so the “I will get through these business cards first” approach kicks in. The fact that you ordered 1000 business cards when you only needed 100 because it was better value but now have enough for 10 years of meetings means that you are going to be behind on brand all the time.
A lot of your business customers have this problem, if not all of them, including some very large companies. It is a problem you can solve for them, in fact it is a problem you can define for them, demonstrate the importance of solving and then solve. Here is the thing though, if you are going to go to a meeting on the pretence of being a brand control specialist, then make sure you practise what you preach. Make sure you are controlling your own brand (2 different business cards in this circumstance is a red flag for potential customers).
In fact how you control your own brand and the solutions you use can be a great demonstration of your services. In RedTie for example, we do use our own Web to Print software for brand protection of printed materials. We have a webstore with the latest version of our business card so that employees can go online and only get the correct version, it has a set maximum you can order and an approval process before the order is sent directly to our preferred printer.
It is not only printed materials that are set up in our software. For example, our latest licence agreements are online, so we can enter customers’ details and get the PDF contract delivered by email. So we are protecting our brand in the digital medium too, not to mention the fact that we are protecting our business by making sure everything is done to the latest terms of the contract. No one is editing a Word document that could be very out of date. We really do need to come up with a new name for Web to Print, the solution is so much more than that now. It is ideal for solving brand protection in both the printed and digital document form. Of course we use other solutions as well to maintain brand integrity, from defined processes and version control to a simple bit of software to make sure everyone has the same email signature.
There really is no reason why you shouldn’t take a leaf out of the big corporation book of brand protection for your own company. It doesn’t have to be complicated and once set up doesn’t take up much time. The great thing is that once you have done it for your own company you can demonstrate you have the skills to help your customers achieve the same.