When you ask leaders of any organization whether they have an online brand portal, most often the answer is yes. But while the idea of a central location to house brand assets is ubiquitous—all brand portals are not created equal.
The question is no longer, do you need a brand portal—it’s whether what you have in place is working hard enough for your business.
Your online portal needs to be more than just the hub for assets and guidelines of yesteryear. The best modern brand portal is closely tied to your organization’s needs, plays nicely with your current IT environment, and is a fully-integrated resource that anyone who touches the brand relies on. Further, more and more your workforce will expect that the tools they use to do their jobs be akin to the kind of experiences they have daily with consumer technology products. If the platform doesn’t fit nicely into the ecosystems of today’s tech-savvy employees, then they won’t use it.
Let’s look at the key considerations for how your platform can and should support your people and your business.
Meeting the needs of your organization
The ability to foster growth is a priority for brands—and growth comes in many forms. Whether you’re in the midst of global expansion, acquisition, or just generally focused on driving efficiency to increase the bottom line, your brand portal is an opportunity to help move the needle.
The first steps to honing in on the appropriate technology solutions for managing your brand and empowering your marketers and partners are:
1. Identifying your organization’s key efficiency drivers
2. Assessing your operational archetype
3. Understanding your cultural identity
4. Aligning to the needs of the business
Considering the following questions will help you to define your platform goals:
Whatever your needs and goals, acknowledging them and ensuring your stakeholders are aligned to a shared vision will put you on the path toward a best-in-class platform.
Know your audience well
While knowing your organizational archetype is important, at the heart of this effort are your target audiences. You need to know who they are, how they work, and how they could be working even smarter—don’t exclude them from this process. Whether through surveys, interviews, or hosting work sessions, you have an opportunity at the start to listen and ask questions, at all levels of the organization. Do it.
Simplify and streamline
Chances are, there are already plenty of disparate tools deployed across your organization to varying ends. If this sounds familiar, take this as a golden opportunity to reduce redundancy and clean up house. You’ll create more common ways of working while decreasing overall spend.
It’s okay to leverage more than one technology solution—for example, a social listening tool to provide services that other systems do not—but consider bringing them together under one roof and make sure they’re being leveraged as widely as possible. If they’re not, consider whether there’s a smarter option that would be more broadly adopted and provide more value—or whether it’s needed at all.
If your needs are plentiful, so are the options available: on-premise, cloud-based, hybrid approaches, SaaS, out-of-box solutions, custom builds…there are pros and cons to each. You owe it to yourself to understand how they align to your organization’s IT requirements and onsite support capabilities.
While there’s no arguing the value and economies of scale in leveraging something off the rack, sometimes it’s still not the right solution. If you’re in possession of strong IT resources that are closely aligned to the needs of the business, with the right enterprise platform at their disposal, you may be a perfect candidate for an on-premise solution that is configured internally.
However, if an out-of-the-box solution is more appropriate, be crystal clear on what you’re getting and how that aligns to your needs, otherwise you could find yourself in customization territory, accruing ancillary costs and pushing out timelines. Make sure the solution you choose has enough configuration options that all your bases are covered. Remember, you’re trying to make things easier, not introduce new roadblocks to user satisfaction. Bonus: this type of solution is typically compatible with future product releases—ongoing upgrades are a feature to take full advantage of as you grow.
There is no one right approach for any particular business or organizational structure. You must do the legwork to identify which direction is right for you.
Build a solid foundation
Identifying the right platform does not a homerun make. Once you’ve defined the broader goals, you’ll need to dive deep into the details to set yourself up for success. If you don’t address the basics in a meaningful way, you’re in for a world of hurt in the form of never-ending workarounds and system tweaks—not to mention dissatisfied users.
Designing the underlying information structure is both an art and a science. A good partner can guide you through the process of defining the right information architecture, taxonomy, and metadata strategies. Equally important is clarifying roles and responsibilities for the user-base (think access-levels and permissions) and those that will become owners and administrators of the tool.
If you’ve established the right foundation, an optimal user experience is just around the bend. Your UX should be purposeful and drive engagement—not just a look-and-feel-of-the-moment reskin. An intuitive interface that gets users to where they’re going quickly and logically is attainable, and this goal should serve as your guiding light. And of course content is key—make it engaging, relevant, and tailored to specific audiences.
These systems—and all of the associated implementation efforts—are an investment, and any investment should have measurable returns. Make sure to track your progress from go-live and beyond—and tie those measurements back to your original business goals. Some metrics to consider:
Defined KPI’s and progress not only rationalize the expense to support a central hub, they also keep you honest about how well it’s being kept up after the initial rollout.
To that point, give your users a reason to keep coming back. Take advantage of the platform to keep driving engagement and creating relationships across the organization: Share regular insights. Publish thought-provoking content. Simply put, be compelling. Use your portal to prove that the brand is a resource for cultivating ongoing growth within the organization, and a key driver of business success.