The Importance of Technical Brand Governance

July 12, 2016

Blog | Strategy | The Importance of Technical Brand Governance
The importance of technical brand governance in complex technical builds.

Simplify the complexity of managing a global digital ecosystem through governance.

Historically, technical brand governance was a process owned by corporate IT departments. As businesses digitize and roles become more specialized, technology solutions are often now managed by stakeholders outside of IT’s direct control – marketing, communications, legal, agencies, vendors, freelancers; the permutations and digital owners are limitless.

At GeekHive, we view technical brand governance as the overarching system of software that enables an organization to maintain a cohesive brand across all channels. As strategic partners to hundreds of brands, we often find ourselves helping our clients draw the lines of digital governance by explaining its importance, identifying its most appropriate practices, workflows and strategies, and implementing the systems that enable governance to be most effective and least bureaucratic. In short, we enable our partners to have complete brand control through technical governance.

Why is Governance Important?

Without governance, a digital brand can easily spin out of control. Various stakeholders and parties often lead to inconsistent implementations, disparate strategic underpinnings, and a wide variety of disconnected solutions. Before long, technology becomes a roadblock for organizational growth.

Here are the 3 biggest takeaways about technical brand governance we’ve learned over the years:

1. Use discovery to build consensus and make governance fundamental to every organization.

The adoption of governance principles should not be by one group alone, rather it must be adopted by the entire organization, from top to bottom. A global brand must align around core governing principles. Governance is more than technical tools; rather it’s a strategic decision-making process that supports the organization’s vision and is embedded in the enterprise overall.

If any process is overly complex, adoption will be low and people will be reluctant to comply, effectively abandoning the ‘gold standard’ in search of more flexible means.

While tools are great, our partners rely on us for our expertise in leveraging enterprise solutions to seamlessly control a brand’s digital footprint. Through discovery and cross-organizational dialogue, we move from defining roles and responsibilities, to mapping business goals and workflows, to documenting centralized controls. These conversations serve as the backbone of a good governance strategy and establish a baseline to enable various stakeholders, vendors, and agencies to uniformly drive digital brand efforts.

As simple as it sounds, this is often a task that is ignored until it is too late.

GeekHive Case Study: Crayola | For over 100 years Crayola has inspired creativity in children and adults with their products. As their brand continued to grow, they needed a solution that allowed their international branches to leverage the core experience on the US site, and also be able to show their own content and unique offerings for each country. We were called in to transform their CMS into a central platform, comprised of standards, rules, and deployment workflows that could easily roll out and launch international sites giving each country their own voice and footprint while staying on brand globally. Discovery and dialogue drove the entire process. | Learn More Here

2. Devise one (flexible) governance strategy to rule them all.

Technical platforms, like Sitecore, offer the resources for disseminating the message of a diverse brand and its ever growing ecosystem of websites. Multinational and multibrand organizations often turn to us to devise a singular solution to house, publish and power their disparate web properties.

Governance is not simply the use of a monolithic CMS solution, but rather the creation of a platform flexible enough to adapt to the multiple needs of various global stakeholders, and in turn, integrate those needs along with legacy applications.

Organizations comprised of hundreds of sub brands require a roadmap that carefully and thoughtfully evaluates and aligns each use case as a point of consideration in a system-wide strategy. Before we touch a stitch of code, we find that thorough documentation is critical to any governance implementation plan. Much like building a site, governance requires business analysis, requirements gathering, use case development, the definition of roles and responsibilities and ultimately the formation of an organization-wide governance manifest.

GeekHive Case Study: Church & Dwight | Our Discovery and analysis yielded a strategy that called for a single control panel to system-wide facilitates workflow across C&D’s 13 unique brand sites. Management of all of their sites was consolidated into a single instance enabling a wide variety of stakeholders from many disparate brands to remain true to a common C&D brand standard – all through the click of a single button (literally). To get there, we spent weeks with C&D devising and documenting a sound strategy.  | Learn More Here

3. Build a governance implementation plan to promote cross-organizational needs.

One size does not fit all.

Sitecore, Drupal, Episerver, etc. are the go-to solutions for large scale initiatives requiring easily configured functionality to manage websites. While these tools are amazing, they are not built for your specific business and neither are their workflows. We have learned that trying to squeeze an organization into an off-the-shelf solution is not feasible or advisable.

Discovery and Strategic planning lead us to the identification of a set of unique functionality and core components. Only when we have these items defined are we in a position to ensure governance can meet the needs of your organization.

GeekHive Case Study: Shire Pharmaceuticals | Our global governance plan enables 16 international destinations, each with widely varying needs, the ability to demonstrate their unique version of the Shire brand, all under a common corporate umbrella powered and controlled through central leadership. Version controls, language support, localization needs, as well as a myriad of unique functionality were accounted for to bring this diverse system to life. | Learn More Here

With all of this in mind, governance shouldn’t be an overbearing process but simply a plan and corresponding functionality to provide the necessary framework for high-level digital integrity across a brand ecosystem. Finding the appropriate level of governance ensures that your websites will present a quality, unified brand.

At GeekHive, we pride ourselves on being technical partners, capable of devising and developing solutions to meet any business need. Governance starts with a conversation and an exploration of your organization – we would love the opportunity discuss a sensible governance plan to achieve your business goals. Contact us here to let us know a bit about your project and we’ll be in touch right away.


Stephen Downs

Executive Vice President of Business Development
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