What to look for in a brand management software in 2023

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Brand management(opens in a new tab or window) is about creating a memorable image and voice, helping your whole company adhere to the standards set by your brand team(opens in a new tab or window), and ensuring your customers can recognize your company in seconds. But it’s also about knowing when it’s time to make changes, because even the strongest brands can use a refresh from time to time.

All of these tasks can be challenging to keep up with if your brand team doesn't have the right training, experience, and a brand strategy that serves as a guiding light.

And one of the most important elements that helps any team develop and stick to a strategy is the use of brand management tools(opens in a new tab or window) that increase efficiency and performance.

A brand management software can help you have more control over your brand reputation. When you select the right tools, you’ll be able to help your team be more productive, give them what they need to produce streamlined work, measure brand ROI and success, and get the brand marketing results you’re looking for.

Table of Contents

What is brand management software?

Brand management software(opens in a new tab or window) is a set of tools that allow brand managers to set standards for the brand, and maintain an organized library of all branded marketing assets. Brand managers are responsible for ensuring that all marketing collateral adequately reflects their brand guidelines(opens in a new tab or window), and with a brand management tool, it’s much easier.

Implementing a brand management software helps provide both your internal and external teams with accurate branding materials that reflect the current brand identity, streamlining the creative process.

Brand asset management helps organizations maintain control over how their brand is represented. This software is especially useful for larger distributed teams in which branding becomes more complicated to keep consistent.

However, smaller and medium-sized teams also benefit from the organizational(opens in a new tab or window) and tracking power of marketing software solutions. From managing marketing campaigns to monitoring the flow of multi-channel content production, using software helps optimize your overall marketing efforts and stay relevant.

Canva’s Brand Kit(opens in a new tab or window) is a great example of one of the core functions of great brand management software. You simply upload your approved logos and imagery, select your brand colors with the exact hex codes you want used, and choose the fonts that your brand team has selected. Then, anyone in your team who designs any asset in Canva can select the right colors, fonts, and imagery without having to spend time digging for the approved brand style guide(opens in a new tab or window).

You can set up your brand kit in Canva in just a few easy steps.

Why is brand management software important?

Whether your brand is large, small, or somewhere in between, the goal of any great brand marketer is to control the messaging and perception of their brand. The more people that recognize and positively associate with your brand image, the higher the likelihood you will notice an increase in brand conversions and revenue. The best brand management solutions(opens in a new tab or window) offer users digital asset management (DAM) capabilities(opens in a new tab or window) that help maintain brand consistency.

As your brand grows, stakeholder numbers increase, and brand management software becomes even more important. With more people editing and working with brand assets, you need a way to monitor usage.

“Imagine one of your most beloved brands with the wrong color logo, for example, or a disproportionate image-to-background ratio. Without a place to create and store branded assets and important documents for teams to access at scale, brands run the risk of foregoing some of the control every brand needs to generate growth.” – Ashley Gilgrist, Canva Product Marketing Manager

Increases organization and productivity

As your digital marketing initiatives expand, so does your content library of endless digital files. Whether you’re looking for examples or need to reuse assets, brands of all sizes are already reaping the benefits of DAM systems. In fact, by 2025, the US DAM market is expected to reach $8.5 billion(opens in a new tab or window).

Example of structuring your projects into folders and teams within Canva’s brand management features - available in Canva for Teams.

If you don’t have to spend time looking for your marketing materials, you’ll have more time for focused work. A searchable DAM system increases productivity by allowing you and all stakeholders to quickly find what you’re looking for.

Fosters efficient, asynchronous collaboration

As more people work remotely(opens in a new tab or window), the status quo of in-office synchronous working hours becomes less and less popular(opens in a new tab or window). For distributed teams, a brand management platform helps streamline collaboration asynchronously. Creative teams with members working in different time zones can rely on brand management tools to keep everyone informed on their own schedules.

For those who continue to work synchronously, brand assets can be shared with other team members(opens in a new tab or window) or departments in real time, but without having to schedule an entire meeting or draft up a long email with any changes and updates. Not only can this help increase workplace satisfaction, but it can increase efficiency and reduce creative bottlenecks.

Produces consistent representation

When a brand updates a brand asset, like a logo, every internal and external stakeholder needs to be made aware of this change. Brand management and brand control features allow you to make updates to your assets and ensure that everyone uses the updated versions going forward.

Presenting a consistent image to your audience helps your brand’s reputation remain intact and thriving. In fact, companies who use consistent branding and messaging across all of their channels see 10 - 20% higher revenue(opens in a new tab or window).

Canva’s brand management features for example include branded templates make designing on-brand assets easy — with or without design experience.

When getting started with Canva, your design team invests the time in building brand templates for your most frequently used content formats, from presentations to packaging to business cards. Then, the templates will be ready for everyone else at your company to use and quickly design on-brand materials that represent your company exactly how you want them to.

Knowing when to invest in brand management software

Whether you work for a global brand or a small startup, investing in new tools comes with its share of challenges. Maybe you have the budget but don’t know when exactly it makes sense to invest in brand management software. Or maybe pricing is a serious concern.

If you are on a tight budget and need to convince your boss that paying for brand management software(opens in a new tab or window) is worth the investment, you’ll need to establish a few important points.

  • Increased organization, increased efficiency, increased performance: You should invest in brand asset management software when you have enough assets and brand materials that it is a struggle to find what you need when you need it. Not only will it help you keep everything organized, but it will also take up less space and remove clutter from your desktop.
  • Security concerns: Investing in software can keep all your files safe and secure in one centralized place.
  • Maintaining brand control: If you work on a growing team, especially with external stakeholders, then it’s time to invest in brand management tools. They allow you to maintain control over asset creation and distribute approved branding materials to the right people in real time.
  • Analyzing brand performance: Digital brand management has the added benefit of providing insights into how your team uses your branded materials, where you should invest more, and what’s slowing your team down.

Doing thorough research on the brand asset management software options available to you will help you as you conduct your cost-benefit analysis and put together a business proposal(opens in a new tab or window). The cost of this software depends on the size of your team and the features you’re looking for. The more you can get out of one product, the better!

“Canva is a one-stop shop for teams, meaning it’s one tool to import and store branded assets and create on-brand content through branded templates and Canva’s brand kits feature.” – Ashley Gilgrist, Canva Senior Product Marketing Manager

Evaluating brand asset management software

There are many brand software management options for you and your team to choose from. To mitigate any overwhelm you may be feeling, ask the right questions to narrow down your options. Some of these questions will also aid you in defining an overall brand management strategy that will guide you in future decision-making.

Questions to consider when choosing brand management software:

  • Does this software fit in my budget?
  • Who can/should have access to my brand management software?
  • How many people can access this software?
  • What are my top five needs that this software should meet?
  • Will this platform have an easy enough learning curve to be worth my time?
  • Does this tool have a robust support team available?
  • Is the software updated often?
  • What automation features does this software have?
  • What integration capabilities does this software have?
  • How will this tool work with our current tech stack?
  • What do the reviews say about customer experience?

The best brand management software depends on your needs and bandwidth. Consider that you or a member of your team will need to learn a new product, educate others on how to access and use the product, and create a process that consistently works best for all of you.

For example, you may discover that your budget limits you to a small team account with only basic capabilities. This may lead you to find a more affordable brand management software, while a global enterprise may invest in a more expensive and robust tool. Or, you might have a lengthy contract with your marketing automation software or your CMS — in that case, look for a brand management tool that integrates with your current systems.

Key features of a brand management tool

For some, their brand management priorities lie in enhancing brand messaging with consistent fonts and formats(opens in a new tab or window). For others, collaborating, proofing, and organizing assets is the top priority. But regardless of size or priorities, the following are the key features that every marketing team needs to have in their brand management solution.

Organized and searchable assets

One of the most important features of a brand asset management software is the ability to organize and search for brand assets. Brand management software with a DAM system(opens in a new tab or window) allows users to create folders and use a tagging system to quickly and easily store, find, and update their brand assets.

Canva’s DAM capabilities enable teams of all sizes and competence levels to generate content at scale.

Whether they’re in the social media department or internal communications, having a centralized location of all accurately branded assets helps users produce reliable, professional, and consistent content.

Keeping folders organized in Canva(opens in a new tab or window) is easy, and helps anyone designing any kind of asset to find the right templates, imagery, and content right away.

“What we typically see at Canva is that large teams and enterprises are generally storing a large volume of assets and content(opens in a new tab or window), and are also looking for ways to manage large teams working with those assets in a streamlined workflow.” – Ashley Gilgrist, Canva -Senior Product Marketing Manager

Example of how you can organize your digital assets and designs into projects, folders and even different teams.

Editing, commenting, and design collaboration

Some brand asset management software(opens in a new tab or window) can also act as a collaboration tool where users can edit, comment on, and convert files as needed.

This way, teams can adjust their brand assets right inside the platform. It will save you and your design team time if you don’t have to switch to a different tool and re-upload your files every time they need to be resized or saved as a different file type(opens in a new tab or window).

Canva’s Magic Switch(opens in a new tab or window) feature allows users to easily resize their assets by custom size or preset sizes specific to a use case.

If a team member is unsure of how to resize or adjust a file, they can also leave a comment and make an edit request to another team member. Rather than going back and forth through email or Slack messages, Canva users can tag each other in the comments right on the assets themselves.

And brand management wouldn’t be brand management without ensuring your brand stays consistent. Your brand manager or anyone you choose to be your brand guardian, can ensure no off-brand content gets published using design approval workflows.

Privacy and permission settings

Your ability to define and set rules and usage rights can help you protect your assets from being used or accessed without your explicit permission. This is helpful for brand teams who work with publishers and media companies, partners, or clients. Look for features such as asset approvals and access requests to ensure that your privacy and security needs are being met.

“For large teams, in particular, the work of designers is built to scale out to large teams through the creation of branded templates and the option to turn on things like design approvals or even brand controls, so the right members have access to the right tools. In a visual world, we know the importance of powerful, professional designs, which Canva makes possible to do together.” – Ashley Gilgrist, Canva Product Marketing Manager

Customized views

Every user of your brand management software(opens in a new tab or window) should be independent and rely less on the owner of the software for approvals. A customized view or portal feature allows you to create custom views for different user segments, empowering each to find the exact materials they need for their respective purposes.

This is especially relevant for larger interdepartmental teams with external stakeholders. For example, your sales team might have a portal that includes only pitch deck templates and email signature logos, while influencers may have social media templates and logos. If each only has access to the necessary branding materials, it will save time and increase productivity.

Canva has integrations with other marketing solutions like Brandfolder. You can send your Canva designs directly to your Brandfolder account and take advantage of some of its robust features.

Canva integrates with Brandfolder to access assets directly from within Canva.

Automation and integrations

Automation and integrations can increase your marketing or design team’s efficiency and performance. With automation, predetermined workflows can help save time by automatically tagging files and organizing them by file type. With integrations, you can quickly and easily upload your assets to other apps, sharing your campaigns faster and to a wider audience.

Typically, software as a service (SaaS) companies understand the power and importance of integrating with other SaaS companies. When evaluating software, check if it integrates with other tools and apps(opens in a new tab or window) you currently use or might want to use in the future.

For example, an email marketing manager might find it useful to integrate with Mailchimp. In Canva, you can send your designs directly to your Mailchimp account. You don’t have to worry about sharing the assets with the right person, downloading, and uploading. Every integration saves you time and energy.

Analytics and usage metrics

Brand asset management software like Brandfolder can track brand asset usage history. This helps brand managers determine which assets are most popular and should be regularly reviewed and updated and which are no longer used and can be discarded to remove clutter.

Analytics and usage metrics also provide you with info on which team members use which features and reveal how branding materials can impact your brand goals. The data can also influence how you continue to manage and assign tasks in your brand management workflows. The more information you collect, the better you can adjust your systems and processes to improve performance.

Content calendar for social media and marketing campaigns

A content calendar within your brand management software helps you easily see when and how often assets are used so you can avoid repeating content and losing your audience’s interest.

A brand management calendar can be shared not just with your marketing team but with everyone that uses your branding materials. This feature helps teams identify content gaps that can be filled with new and exciting social media posts, increasing the novelty factor for your audience.

Canva’s Content Planner(opens in a new tab or window) feature helps you manage your brand assets and publishing schedule all in one place. Being able to design, create, schedule, and publish(opens in a new tab or window) social posts across all platforms, all in one place is a huge time-saver for busy social teams.

Analyzing and measuring brand management progress

Like any system or process, there’s always room for improvement. Once you and your team have had a chance to explore using brand management software(opens in a new tab or window), it can be helpful to schedule periodic check-ins. During these check-ins, evaluate what areas need improvement. Working collaboratively(opens in a new tab or window), you may uncover missed content management opportunities or time-saving automations to implement.

Ask yourself:

  • Who needs to be included or removed as a user in your software?
  • Do you need to do a clean-up and remove old or irrelevant assets from your account?
  • Are you making full use of all the features and automation options?
  • Is everyone following protocols, or should you host an educational meeting?

Answering these questions and more can shape your brand management experience, strengthen collaboration, and ultimately lead to business growth.

Find out more about Canva’s brand management capabilities and other features at Canva for Teams(opens in a new tab or window).

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