I’d say that most of us who work in marketing are quite well organised. We manage to implement campaigns, manage agencies and we usually manage to keep a smile on our faces while explaining what “unreasonable demand” means to our sales colleagues.
But for the best of us, electronic filing can sometimes get a little out of hand. I’m sure I’m not alone in occasionally having 1,724 unread messages in my inbox (you know it’s happened), or spending hours searching for a particular spreadsheet that turned out to be already open on my laptop.
Mostly, I don’t think this is a very serious problem. But there’s one area where marketers and brand managers really can’t afford to take their eye off the ball and it’s pretty fundamental.
We carried out a survey of 200 UK marketing decision-makers and found that only 42% could confidently say where their company brand guidelines were saved. What’s more, over a third (37%) said that they were aware of multiple versions saved in different locations and almost half (46%) of the marketers surveyed said they couldn’t completely describe their brand’s most up-to-date logo.
This is where problems begin. Most of us have an inner dread of sending out a campaign featuring the old logo, the wrong set of statistics, or that customer quote they asked us to remove. People are upset, threats are made, tears are shed. And it gets worse. Our research also revealed that 23% of marketing professionals have accidentally used stock images that they didn’t have the rights for. It’s an easy thing to do, but the consequences of the unauthorised use of images can be financial penalties or public bad-mouthing from the rightful owner. Sometimes both.
Having multiple versions of brand assets in a less than optimal filing system can also be expensive in terms of digital storage and time. And approval processes are still often managed via email – who among us can honestly say that they have never forgotten to download and store one of these vital attachments?
So what’s the answer? As I work for a software company, I have to point out that technology can help. Photo libraries, workflow systems, and Digital Asset Management software all make the management of different versions infinitely easier. You can create different permissions, ensure that only one authorised version of a piece of content exists and even set up “modular” content management systems so that teams can only use chunks of pre-approved copy within assets.
Ultimately, however, no computer system is completely human-proof. We’re all prone to taking the easy route and if I know there’s an image that I temporarily stored on my desktop and it’s a bit quicker to use than the official version in the system, there’s a strong temptation to do so.
The best way forward is a combination of the two. If you’re looking for a piece of software to help, make sure it’s one that people will find easy to use. The most sophisticated features are pointless if nobody is logging on. Think self-interest - invest in training so that your team can see how much time and hassle they can save themselves. And practise what you preach. Speaking personally, I am now heading back to my desktop to delete 1700 emails.