In today’s busy world, it’s easy to overlook marketing compliance responsibilities. With the pressure of deadlines and the volume and different types of content being produced every day, it can be challenging for the marketing team to ensure that all marketing collateral meets the legal and regulatory standards set by internal and external bodies. But in recent years this has become more important than ever, with the tightening of regulations as well as consumers being very aware of when a brand is not consistent in its brand image and story.
What is marketing compliance?
Marketing compliance refers to a set of external and internal regulations that businesses must adhere to in order to protect the consumer and the brand itself. It can be categorized into two areas: external and internal marketing compliance. Both areas need to be compliant to reassure consumers that the brand is meeting the highest of marketing standards.
Internal marketing compliance is regulated by the brand itself. Businesses must ensure that their brand is consistent across messages and overall identity. By doing this, a consistent brand story will be created and maintained. This kind of compliance builds instant brand recognition, loyalty, and trust. And therefore a vital link between the brand and the consumer.
Externally, regulatory laws and guidelines are in place to protect consumers and their data. These are created and monitored by government bodies and consumer watchdog organizations.
Protecting consumers from false claims
It is important that consumers are protected from false claims. This means that marketing, advertising, and sales content follow strict rules and standards. External marketing compliance is governed by regulatory bodies that monitor the marketing and advertising efforts of brands to ensure they do not mislead consumers. Examples of this are the truth in advertising laws such as those created by the Federal Trade Commission in the USA, or Advertising Standards Authority in the UK.
Consequences of violating these regulations could be serious legal consequences, such as a federal lawsuit if they do not immediately stop advertising false or misleading information.
Protecting personal data
In today’s digital world, the privacy of personal data is of the utmost importance. In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation that significantly enhances the protection of the personal data of its citizens. It regulates the obligations of any organization that collects or processes personal data. The regulation, which came into effect in 2018, builds on previous data privacy and security regulations, but bolsters the rights of data subjects and has harsher penalties for violations.
Why is marketing compliance important?
By being consistent in your brand execution and communication, you will be easily recognizable and therefore deemed reliable. This in turn builds loyalty and trust. On the other hand, if your branding is confusing, doesn’t meet expectations, or in fact is found to break any regulations – that trust will be lost.
The consequences of non-compliance with any rule or regulation can be brutal for your business.
- A brand’s reputation is damaged
- Loss of existing and new customers
- Being shadowed by a consumer watchdog for a few years
- Steep fines.
With consequences so high, no matter where your business operates, marketers need to ensure their websites and data management systems are compliant. Luckily, there are a number of tools out there to make this easier.
Tools to help meet marketing compliance
(1) Brand guidelines
Brand guidelines help demonstrate what the company is, what it does, and what it stands for. It comprises of clearly defined rules and standards that communicate how your brand should be represented to the world. Your brand guidelines should include all aspects of the visual design of the product, as well as the brand’s tone and message. In short, a capture of your brand identity.
When drawing up your brand guidelines, must-haves include:
- Brand Overview: Define your brand story, including its history and vision for the future. Include more specifics about your brand identity by sharing your mission statement, brand promise, values, tagline or slogan, and unique value proposition.
- Brand Strategy: List out your long-term goals and the brand’s plans to achieve them. You can even get as specific as drafting out strategies for different teams, product offers, or mediums.
- Style Guide: Spell out all of the details regarding your visual identity, imagery style, and how your brand design elements, such as logos, color palettes, and typography, should be displayed across print and web. Your style guide should also contain information about your communication style, including your brand’s tone of voice and messaging.
These guidelines should be easily accessible to all departments. They are there to help with writing marketing copy, designing creative, briefing external agencies and freelancers, and communicating with customers. They should be used as a standard tool for new and existing staff to refer to when they are not sure what to do.
Not only will adhering to the brand guidelines help with internal marketing compliance, but it will also mean that the brand is executed consistently. And this is the key to successful branding. In fact, consistently-presented brands are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than those with an inconsistent brand presentation. If people are aware of your product and know what your brand stands for, they are more likely to purchase items you produced.
(2) Digital asset management software
Today brands and ad agencies are moving towards a more advanced way of managing their assets with digital asset management (DAM). DAM software enables users to securely store all their logos, brand guidelines, artwork, images, and other media files in a central online platform.
DAMs are the perfect tool to ensure your brand remains compliant. It is easy to control who has access to your assets both internally and externally. With secure remote logins, approved team members worldwide always have access to all current files.
(3) Online proofing solutions
One way to ensure design consistency is by choosing an online proofing platform to review and approve creative work. Meaning all file types are checked following the same process.
Handy features to ensure that your design is on brand and therefore consistent include: color and font checkers, rulers and gridlines, and color plate previews for printed formats.
Some features that make marketing compliance checks faster and easier to control are:
The ability to add workflows to your review and approval process will make it easier to meet internal and external marketing compliance standards for creative work. It is essential that the workflow can be customized, meaning you can bring key decision-makers into the proof lifecycle at the right time.
PageProof has a range of roles that can be allocated to approvers in your workflow – a handy way to control that mandatory reviewers have given sign-off at the right time. And all automated without you needing to lift a finger.
Another powerful tool to ensure marketing compliance standards are met is checklists. Checklists are a list of actions or questions that stakeholders need to review and complete for different types of creative. These allow you to guide your reviewers through the proofing process to ensure essential elements have been considered for each creative project. It is important that a proof cannot be approved until each of the items noted on the checklist have been completed.
Checklists should be customizable for different clients or stakeholder groups, ensuring that each one is relevant for the project type. For example, the checklist for a video project would be different to one for a print campaign.
PageProof has on the most powerful checklist features, making marketing compliance a breeze.
Maintain an audit trail
Keeping an audit trail of marketing work is another important facet of managing marketing compliance. A brand needs to have a reliable way of tracking every step of its approval workflow. That means all communication and feedback, changes, any collected data, approvals and final artwork need to be accounted for. If a brand was to be investigated, an audit trail might be all that stands between the brand and legal action.
PageProof removes these challenges and complexities by providing a crucial audit log for every proof. With one click, it’s easy to deep-dive into each event in the proof’s life cycle, see the detail of every decision made, and export this information quickly – thus eliminating the worry and time to manually gather this information to meet audit requests.
Data encryption translates data into another form, or code, so that only people with access to a secret key or password can read it. Currently, encryption is one of the most popular and effective data security methods used by organizations. It is important for compliance that pre-release creative is securely shared and proofs are ‘for your eyes only’ until final signoff is achieved.
PageProof’s triple-layer encryption for online proofing and approval is a world-first. Data is encrypted on device before it travels, not simply just ‘at rest’. This is the highest data security available for online proofing platforms, and this unique technology has received patents worldwide to prove this.
To target consumers and personalize messaging, marketers need to collect significant amounts of consumer data, so that they can operate as effectively as possible. They can use a range of platforms and tools to do this, with the most common being a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
CRM software allows you to track and manage customer relationships in one place. A detailed profile is created for each customer. All relevant customer data like contact information, interaction and purchasing history, stage of the customer journey, etc. are added to a concise live record.
Having key information at your fingertips can dramatically improve your brand experience and your customer service satisfaction. Friendly and helpful customer service contributes greatly to forming a positive impression on customers, with almost three-quarters saying they love a brand precisely for that reason. A CRM also enables you to interact with team members consistently, which helps in internal brand compliance.
However, to ensure marketing compliance standards are met it is absolutely critical that customer data collected in this way meets all stringent rules and regulations.
(5) Information security framework
There are a number of security frameworks available that protect the security, confidentiality, and availability of data. Some of the most popular frameworks are ISO 27001 and SOC 2.
These systems both share the same focus. Both conduct an external audit that measures against security controls, including processes, policies, and technologies designed to protect sensitive information. It is their approach that is different.
PageProof chose ISO 27001 for its data security standard, due to having customers and data storage locations worldwide. The robustness of this framework with the implementation of an Information Security Management System(ISMS) also appealed as security measures are monitored, maintained, and approved on a continual basis.
Last word on marketing compliance
Marketing compliance is a crucial part of your marketing plan that you can’t afford to ignore. For successful companies, adherence to marketing compliance requirements is a cornerstone of business practices. Failure to meet standards could mean that a brand’s reputation is negatively impacted, or, even worse, being investigated by an external regulatory body for misconduct and having to pay a hefty price.
Thankfully, there are a number of tools that make this daunting task easier. Showing your users that you are serious about marketing compliance and respecting their privacy will set you apart from your competitors.
If you want to learn more about how PageProof can help with marketing compliance, book a time to chat with our team.