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5 Ways to Protect Your Brand and Avoid Million Dollar Errors

Safety needs to start with the creative process

There is no shortage of ads gone wrong and most marketers can recite plenty of examples of tone-deaf messaging, insensitive imagery and misinformed creative. What’s different today, of course, is the speed at which these scandals spread across the public consciousness. Which is why it is more important than ever for advertisers to avoid any kind of misstep.

Brand marketers know that any kind of public outcry can result in a loss of consumer trust and brand value, but that’s only part of the story. Snapchat saw its stock take a $800 million hit in 2018 after Rihanna publicly protested an ad that had appeared on the app.

To escape situations like these, brands and agencies need to take back control of their messages and reputations. That means that brand protection has to begin with the earliest stages of the asset creation process. Bottom line: if you don’t have the right processes in place, you’re risky behavior could be jeopardizing your hard-won brand equity.

These are five key ways to ensure that an ad is brand safe before it gets to its end destination.

1. Create a culture of collaboration

Fostering a team approach among key internal and external stakeholders ensures that the right people are in the room early on in the creative process. To avoid siloed information and miscommunication, establish stakeholder responsibilities and ownership at the very start of the process. Additionally, exploring and championing diversity can be the key to addressing potential issues with creative content before it hits the market.

2. Keep track of your talent

Talent costs are more than just residuals—it can also include legal fees. Your talent needs to be a part of the data and information collection before, during and after the creative process. Remember, the talent you use is exposed to the same risks as your content. With different versions of creative being distributed to multiple endpoints, brands need to have a talent-centric view of their exposure. The use of unapproved or expired talent can mean a million-dollar disaster. To guarantee safety, brands must know which talent has been used and where.

3. Create a defined workflow and approval process

The workflow is a project map with no shortcuts from point A to point B. Stakeholders must follow the map. Transparency and clearly defined benchmarks in the workflow and approval process mean that ads can be blocked from distribution until each approval on the map is met.

4. Mind your usage rights

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. This holds especially true in the creative process when failing to obtain proper permissions for objects or talent means wasted time and money. To avoid this, add usage rights as a mandatory item on a project checklist, and track them using technology that all stakeholders can access. Look for tech that enables easy publishing, unpublishing and tracking of content. And of course, don’t forget about your metadata.

5. Choose your technology wisely

Using carefully sourced technology for management, sharing, collaboration and distribution of the final ads means that you’ll have access to all of your pre and post-delivery data.

Technology solutions are critical to preventing or mitigating human error in the production and creative process. They also have the power to halt an ad before it causes controversy with consumers or lands in a precarious location. And remember, its cost pales in comparison to the cost of a public brand meltdown.

Morgan Martins is the marketing director for Adstream North America. A Strategic B2B marketer and highly creative leader, she brings over 15 years of experience in executing marketing and communications campaigns and strategies for Fortune 500 corporations, educational institutions, not-for-profit organizations and technology companies.