NBC has the peacock. Starbucks has the siren. And T.Rowe Price has it’s iconic bighorn sheep.
The bighorn sheep appears on all sorts of communications across the 80-year-old asset management firm, from social media accounts to brochures, TV ads to PowerPoint decks. A key visual element of the T. Rowe Price brand since 1983, the bighorn sheep is designed to convey confidence and competence, strength and sure-footedness. Audiences are increasingly encountering the symbol for the first time in a digital environment, so the company introduced a new, streamlined design in 2015 to better translate across all mediums and maintain sharp resolution.
The changes to the bighorn sheep are subtle; if you don’t look closely, you might not notice them. T. Rowe Price’s brand team wanted to ensure that the company’s associates not only knew about the modifications, but were using only the latest version in all internal and external communications. That’s why they created ‘Evolution of a Symbol,’ a video that educates internal audiences about the changes, why they were made, and how individuals can ensure they’re using the symbol correctly.
The video gets to the crux of much of what the brand team is responsible for: brand governance. It also speaks to a progressive approach to brand governance, one that’s less on compliance and more about offering strategic solutions. Creating content that educates and facilitates others to use the brand creatively and compellingly is a key tenet of this approach. The brand team can’t be in all places at all times, so the goal has to be to empower associates with the right tools and resources.
The right tools and resources are especially important when you’ve got a distributed workforce of more than 6,000 employees spread across 16 offices over four continents. T. Rowe Price’s tagline is ‘Invest with confidence.’ The experience its people deliver to customers is critical to how the brand is perceived. Associates need to reliably deliver excellence in helping clients achieve their financial goals – that’s what inspires confidence.
One of the resources in place is twice-yearly brand training sessions aimed at new marketers and content creators; sometimes marketing leaders will also send their teams through for a refresh. Though brand is given broad-strokes exposure during every associate’s onboarding, the brand trainings take it to another level – a different degree of depth is required for a marketer as opposed to, say, the Head of Institutional Sales. At these sessions, associates learn about BrandWorks, T. Rowe Price’s brand center.
Built on Monigle’s BEAM (Brand Engagement and Asset Management) platform, BrandWorks is the hub that supports its brand governance efforts. Put simply, the name conveys the promise of a “brand that works” – a place that’s personalized and relevant not only for marketers and agencies, but also where every associate can go for all things brand. The platform is the universal access point for the finished goods associates need, as well as for education on how to live the brand.
On BrandWorks they’ll find detailed information about facets of the brand framework, including the brand promise, brand persona and brand values; assets like logos and PowerPoint templates; and guidelines on employing the brand voice and visual identity. Their digital experience guide is leading-edge, bridging the gap that so often divides marketing and digital teams with a comprehensive set of digital guidelines, created using the atomic design methodology.
Other content on BrandWorks is more educational in nature, created to both engage associates and drive behavioral changes that will positively affect clients’ experiences of the T. Rowe Price brand. The ‘Evolution of a Symbol’ video is one such example; so is the ‘Your Role’ video, which conveys to associates the essential part they play in bringing the brand to life. Also in this vein are a filterable repository of leadership quotes as well as latest accolades, which at T. Rowe Price are any award or honor that enhances core messages about the company, its brand and its products, and has relevance with its key audiences.
Types of content on BrandWorks
|Corporate brand framework
Examples of brand in use
Brand guidelines (voice, visual, video, digital)
|‘Evolution of a Symbol’ video
‘Your Role’ video
Leadership perspective videos
Filterable leadership quotes
BrandWorks went live in 2016, replacing an internally built brand center that was unwieldy and difficult to use. The key reason for moving away from an internally built brand center is that once it’s done, there is no phase two. Updating the brand center to keep it fresh and relevant will almost always be superseded by other priorities for an IT team.
Becoming more autonomous was one of the biggest drivers in migrating to a new platform. Now, updating the site is no longer a technology ask. The brand team is leaps and bounds ahead of where they used to be when it comes to adding content, because the platform is more flexible and user-friendly, and the content team is quick to make updates. The entire process is much more agile, well-suited to the brand team’s iterative approach to enhancing brand content, assets and guidelines in response to feedback and needs.
Since launching BrandWorks the brand team has been active about augmenting and adjusting to increase site functionality and value. Site navigation is a major area of evolution, and where there continues to be opportunities for advancement. The brand team has been focused on creating clarity in the navigation, refining the placement of the different content areas to really narrow into brand assets. While they’ve made progress, there are still improvements they want to make, including increasing visibility and creating shorter menus with fewer layers.
Focusing on promotion and integrating it into the daily workflow of internal audiences are key to sustaining and increasing usage of BrandWorks. T. Rowe Price’s brand team will soon be ramping up site promotion, employing such tactics as showcasing it on the corporate intranet. They want to utilize the platform’s email capabilities, to keep users informed of new site developments and content. They also want to add analytical capacity to understand user journeys, so they can recognize where people are falling off and whether they’re getting to where they need to go.
Knowing that perfection is a moving target, the brand team at T. Rowe Price isn’t hung up on creating the ideal brand center. Rather, they treat BrandWorks as a living, breathing, growing organism. They’re dedicated to re-examining the platform at frequent intervals, and making improvements and additions accordingly. Just as the bighorn sheep has evolved, so has – and does – T. Rowe Price’s approach to brand governance.