In this article, I’ll give recommendations for top solutions I’ve found for reaching different branding goals. I will also share how you decide what you need in your branding tech stack, why you need one at all, and what criteria you should apply for all tools that you are considering.
This is not a complete list of dozens of solutions in the market. This is a short list of the ultimate stack that I’ve found works best during my years of working in branding, communications, and marketing.
What is a branding tech stack?
In a very simple form, your tech stack is the applications that you use to run your business. All companies have some sort of a tech stack, no matter what their size is or which industry they identify with. The term most likely originated from software companies that use a collection of integrated tools to build their product. Since then, it has quickly been adopted to other departments as well. We’ve all heard about the marketing or sales tech stacks, for example.
There is one area of business that is rarely talked about when it comes to tools or tech stacks: branding.
Good, consistent branding is key to most good things like building your audience, finding new customers and retaining old ones, growing revenue, and strengthening your position in the market. However, branding is still not seen as strategic enough to earn its own tech stack.
A branding tech stack is a collection of integrated tools and products that have been implemented with intention. Most tools can be used for many different purposes, so intention really matters. For example, Linkedin is a platform that can be used to both network and talk with likeminded people, and for growing revenue. Same tool, different ways of utilizing it. It’s not enough to reframe some of your existing tools for branding purposes if it doesn’t serve a goal. Some questions to ask yourself to get find your branding goals:
- Is my brand focused on growing rapidly or maintaining a leading position?
- Is my priority more attention/followers or more qualified leads?
- Is my brand represented consistently through all channels and regions?
- Does my audience trust my brand?
- Would I like to reinvent my brand, introduce new products or find new customers segments?
- Is my brand looking for talent but struggling to get the best people in?
There is a solution for every issue. When choosing your branding tech stack, it’s not about what you can solve but what will bring your team closer to your goal. There are many brand management strategies to consider and by defining your branding goals, you’ll know where to focus.
What to consider when building a tech stack?
Once you have your goal(s) for branding (and, ultimately, for your business), you will choose tools that best help your team accomplish and monitor those goals. But that’s not the only thing to consider.
A tech stack is called a tech stack and not a miscellaneous box of tools for a reason. There are three main things I would recommend for consideration:
Integrations. Ideally, the tools you use work together. Integrations allow your team to skip steps like constantly downloading and uploading files to move them to another. When your systems don’t communicate, you also risk work getting lost or being saved incorrectly.
Tools that interact and work smartly together will save you a lot of time and energy, that’s why advanced integrations with software solutions should be a priority when you are looking to build the optimal branding tech stack.
User experience. Some (especially older, more dated software vendors) argue that a complex and difficult system is only that in the beginning and with a bit of practice the user experience improves. Unfortunately, it’s challenging to get new employees to use your new branding tech stack if it’s not moderately intuitive.
It’s also not efficient to use a tool that has a lot of bugs or takes a ton of effort to get even the smallest thing done. Before implementing a new part for your branding tech stack, make sure it will be usable for the people that will operate in the tool every day.
Implementation and support. The rule of thumb here is that if the solution is really user-friendly, the implementation should be easy as well. While all strategic projects are complex, you should always be able to get the support you need and implement a system that works for all users.
Your key users, like marketers, designers and brand managers, will not adopt your new branding tools if working in the system is too difficult for them. It will also take longer for you to start seeing results and get a positive ROI if the implementation is slowed down by multiple necessary training sessions because the software is so complex.
Build your optimal stack
Those are my tips for deciding what kind of tools you need and what you need to take into account when looking for vendors that offer solutions that help you achieve your branding goals. Let’s look at the perfect tech stack that I’ve found via a lot of trial and error.
Brand awareness and brand trust
Is your goal building more brand awareness for your product or service? Are you not yet a household name for your target audience? Or are you looking for ways to build trust in your company? Then brand awareness and/or brand trust is something that you want to include in your branding tech stack.
Meltwater – social listening & press opportunities
Meltwater is a great example of a solution that can be used for a lot of things. They offer eight different products for tackling issues in marketing, PR and brand management. I have personally used Meltwater for social listening and tracking potential PR opportunities with their Media Monitoring tool. This solution provides media monitoring and analysis across online news, social media, print, broadcast, and podcasts, capturing more content and conversations than anyone else in the industry. I found it useful to:
- Find articles matching my keywords in real time (helps see who writes about your competitors and your niche)
- Understand how my brand is viewed across social media (social listening)
Some tools exist to make your brand team’s life easier, to reduce human errors and to minimize double work. If your goal is to become more streamlined, consistent, and focused, you may want to check out these tools.
Hootsuite – Social media management
Hootsuite’s promise is simple: “Create content and share it across multiple social channels from one easy-to-use platform.” This tool does what it promises, makes it easy and quick to post on all social channels and monitor your success from one place. The reason why I prefer it over some of its competitors is its integrations. Hootsuite connects with all the relevant software providers starting from design software and going all the way to content management platforms like Monday which is next on the list.
Monday – Content management
Monday is basically a project or content management platform that helps organize all your branded content work across teams. It’s flexible, it offers multiple ways of organizing your calendar, integrates with all the other tools you use and is easy to set up and use. As with any other tool, it can be used for different goals, but I have found Monday to be the most functional and intuitive place to organize the work of branding and marketing teams. It’s particularly valuable if you have a bigger team or if multiple people have stake and responsibilities in a single project.
Brand management solutions are a less-known, but essential, part of a branding tech stack. They offer a variety of different functionalities from storing your branded content to helping your team (or your external and internal partners like agencies and resellers) create more content like white papers, banners, and presentations
for print and digital. Using a brand management solution for managing your brand has many benefits, which can be roughly grouped into these four categories:
- Brand consistency: Make sure everything that comes out of your company is on-brand and top quality
- Marketing efficiency: Scale content and save time and money in marketing operations
- Improved collaboration: Help all colleagues and partners work on up-to-date versions and connect with your brand.
- Maximized talent: Take away mundane tasks and allow your team to truly contribute.
Lytho – brand safety & collaboration
Lytho strongly believes that for an organization to succeed, their brand should be managed efficiently and consistently. Everyone who uses images, creates presentations, or sends emails with a brand logo on them should benefit from smooth content operations and feel empowered to deliver their best with their company.
This platform works excellently if you are looking for a solution that is easy to use for storing, finding, and sharing images, templates, brand guidelines, and any other brand resources internally and externally. Lytho also offers a Create&Publish tool that helps teams easily create their own on-brand designs without the help of a professional designer or an agency. Their tools also integrate with the rest of the recommended solutions in this article.
Are you looking for solutions to help scale your content creation efforts, make your brand pop, and have consistent, quality visuals across your digital presence? Then perhaps you’d like to give brand visuals tools a onceover.
Adobe – all-around design
Most companies use Adobe’s tools because they are so incredibly versatile. If you have the capacity and resources to do so too, I can recommend it. There is nothing out there with the same ability to integrate with the rest of your stack and flexibility. If you are looking for an easy alternative to do some small design work that doesn’t require the same amount of effort, I’d recommend Canva. It’s an easy-to-use tool, especially for smaller companies or less-visual focused organizations.
Foleon – interactive content experiences
Is your brand heavy on white papers, reports, presentations and stories? Foleon helps create engaging, intelligent, and scalable B2B content experiences for every stage of the customer journey. They transform boring pdfs into interactive content, well, experiences that are intelligent and trackable. Finally, you have the means to see how far people got in your latest report, what interests them in your brand, and where they are at their customer journey.
That’s it for my recommendations! If you’re feeling overwhelmed with options, remember that you don’t need everything all at once. Start with your most important goal and implement a tool for that first. Once you are ready to tackle more of your brand management targets, you can build around your core tools. It’s good to also audit what is already being used in your organization and see if that could work for the brand team as well. Good luck and I hope this article gave some new ideas for looking at your brand more strategically.