What we learnt about the struggles of brand management in public sector comms at CommsCamp

by Candi Underwood, Brand Stencil

In August we sponsored #commscampathome, an conference for comms people working in the Public Sector.

From the police to local councils and everything in between, we relished the opportunity to hear the troubles people experience in the industry and to look at practical solutions to how we can make their lives easier while encouraging digital transformation in the public sector.

With over 242 unique attendees across both days we weren’t short of a few horror stories and tell tales, so we’re rounding up what we learnt about the struggles of brand management in public sector comms:

People are seen as the brand police

As comms people this is a perception that can often be placed upon you and once you’ve been tarnished with that brush it can be hard to change people’s minds. In the public sector this term is more common as it’s usually one person in the organisation who is seen to be almost militant in their brand management. The struggle they face however is that other people just don’t care about the brand as they do. This is a really common issue we hear, which is why we wrote this article on Brand governance made easy: tips for managing your brand to help with getting people onboard and caring about your brand.

Going rogue is more common that you think

During our session there was no shortage of anecdotal evidence that people going rogue with the brand is a normality. It was relayed several times to us that people will often make and distribute their own things without consulting the comms team. In order to work towards a solution the real question we were asking here is why is that? Some mentioned it was more about saving time or just getting the job done themselves, some mentioned the fact that some people just don’t think about the brand or understand why it’s important. And for those that did want to stay on brand there were more limited resources available.

Templates based in Word documents or sometimes even Publisher

Templates are not a new idea and everybody was on the same page with using them. However they were a lot more ad-hoc, with Microsoft Word or Publisher documents drifting about. These were stored in a central place, but people were frequently saving them locally onto their desktop and thereby using out of date templates.

There is an appetite for digital transformation internally & externally

Throughout the day the attendees at #commscampstaysathome talked about digital transformation in the public sector and how, although progress may be slow, the wheels are turning. A lot of people were looking to go digital to increase comms efficiency: for example to introduce briefing forms or to create digital templates to help with their brand management.

Others were looking more to use digital tools to increase engagement; having had all face to face events stopped due to the pandemic they were finding it harder to reach their target audience and looking for advice on social media and other engagement tools to bridge the gap.

Throughout the conference the ideas on digital transformation were certainly flowing. There was talk of a utopia where everyone stayed on brand and clip art calamities were never seen again; of introducing something like BrandStencil where digital templates could make comms people’s time and spend more effective and they could stop being the brand police; of a world where you didn’t have to make poor designs from word templates and get into a time sink of fixing people’s artwork.

And the main outcome was that this is possible, but with baby steps. With budget constraints, technological constraints and uncertainty over how it could work digital transformation in the public sector wasn’t something that would happen overnight but it’s something that is at the forefront of future plans.

Brand Stencil are a main sponsor of #commscampstayshome.

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