The Importance of Compliance Management in Marketing

Gina Ghamo | May 15, 2023

Your products and services are only as good as the assets you use to promote them.

Let me explain. You could have the best product on the market, but if your marketing falls short, sales will likely struggle.

That’s why the marketing assets you use are a critical piece of the puzzle. However, these materials won’t do you any good if they aren’t marketing compliant. In fact, it’s more likely they’ll actually hurt your brand.

So, if your assets look like someone made them in Microsoft Paint… you might be in trouble.

Exhibit A:

Well, that’s one way to get customers’ attention.

Of course, you would never put out an eyesore like this yourself, but what do you do when your campaigns are in someone else’s hands?

The reality is that they actually are.

As a brand, your channel partners are responsible for your local marketing. By exercising compliance management, you can ensure that your marketing assets turn heads for all the right reasons.

What Is Marketing Compliance?

To understand what marketing compliance is, you must first familiarize yourself with the overarching concept of compliance.

Compliance refers to all rules and regulations organizations must follow regarding commercial processes, products, and services. While it’s easy to dub these standards excessive, they exist for good reason — to ensure consumer and environmental well-being. It’s the reason doctors can’t reuse needles and restaurants can’t store raw meat at room temperature.

Let’s face it, marketing compliance doesn’t prevent life-threatening medical emergencies or keep oil out of our oceans. But while the stakes may not seem as high, these compliance rules should be taken just as seriously.

Marketing compliance management is the process of ensuring that marketing assets adhere to strict regulatory guidelines. Some industries are more highly regulated than others (hello, Bev-Alc!), but all have the same goals:

  • Preventing consumers from being misled.
  • Ensuring consistent brand messaging.
  • Representing brands accurately and appropriately.
  • Avoiding legal repercussions.

Types of Compliance in Marketing

There are two primary types of marketing compliance — brand compliance and legal compliance. Though these areas are vastly different, they’re two sides of the same coin when it comes to marketing.

Brand Compliance

Brand compliance aims to ensure that all of a brand’s marketing materials align with its values, identity, and standards. These guidelines apply across the following areas:

  • Messaging: Brand messaging should remain consistent across a company’s marketing channels to convey a single, unified message to consumers.
  • Design: All branded content should feature imagery, colors, fonts, logos, and graphics that correlate with the brand’s visual style.
  • Voice: All messaging should be written in the appropriate brand voice, tone, and personality.

Take this McDonald’s logo, for example:

The above logo would not be considered compliant because though the font, messaging, and imagery are correct, the logo is not true to McDonald’s’ brand colors. This is a prime example of noncompliant brand materials.

Keep in mind: Brand compliance isn’t regulated by any governing body, but rather, it is enforced by corporate brands.

You don’t want your local partners getting creative and going rogue. That’s why it’s your job to ensure brand compliance not only within your own organization, but also across your channel partner ecosystem. That means ensuring that local affiliates only release brand-compliant marketing assets into the marketplace.

Legal Compliance

Legal compliance dictates how brands are allowed to promote certain products and services. These standards can be established on the federal, state, or industry level.

Marketing compliance laws cover many items, some of the most important being:

  • Trademarks and copyrights.
  • Licensing agreements.
  • Permission consent.
  • Truth-in-advertising laws.
  • Terms of service.
  • Data management.
  • Product risks.

Let’s take a look at a legal noncompliance example.

Beverage Alcohol brands are required to follow state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) guidelines, which dictate how alcohol can be promoted and sold in each state. Many Bev-Alc brands must also adhere to the Code of Responsible Practices established by The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) when marketing alcohol.

The below ad would be considered legally noncompliant according to these laws due to a number of compliance violations, including:

  • Imagery appealing to children (leprechaun and four-leaf clover graphics).
  • Violence (the term “Irish car bomb”).
  • Derogatory phrase (St. Patty’s).

Why Is Compliance Important for Businesses?

The benefits of adhering to legal and brand compliance standards in your marketing are twofold — it allows you to improve your marketing performance while preventing your brand from getting into legal hot water.

By exercising compliance management in your marketing, you can:

  • Increase marketing effectiveness: Brand-compliant marketing materials feature consistent messaging, enabling you to reach your target audience more effectively by conveying a stronger, more unified message.
  • Reduce legal risks: Following compliance laws protects you from suffering costly legal repercussions for your company.
  • Prevent reputational damage: Branding inconsistencies and misleading marketing materials can seriously damage your reputation, making your brand appear sloppy or deceptive. Practicing brand-compliant marketing prevents this faux pas.
  • Ensure marketing reimbursement: For affiliates, ensuring that marketing assets are compliant means receiving a co-op reimbursement for their marketing efforts. If they push noncompliant materials, they forfeit this return and lose money.
  • Improve brand recognition: Brand compliance breeds brand recognition. In other words, consistent brand imagery will make your brand more recognizable to consumers.

Compliance Risk Management Best Practices

Ensuring marketing compliance across your channel partner ecosystem isn’t easy, but there are ways to simplify the process. Consider the following compliance management tips.

1. Create Marketing Templates

Instead of leaving your affiliates to their own devices, give them access to flexible templates they can use when creating marketing content. With easy-to-use templates, your partners can build and execute brand-compliant materials seamlessly.

2. Provide Brand-Approved Assets

One of the best ways to ensure that your partners’ local marketing is compliant is by providing them with pre-approved assets. With a comprehensive selection of brand-compliant marketing materials at their fingertips, you can rest easy knowing your campaigns are compliant.

3. Invest in a Centralized Brand Management Solution

You can make compliance management easier for you and your affiliates by investing in a centralized compliance solution. These user-friendly platforms are designed to keep all your branded assets under a single location while allowing you to seamlessly manage permissions and approvals. As a result, you can enjoy fully compliant campaign execution on the local level with faster speed-to-market.

Ensure Brand Compliance With a Trusted Compliance Solution

Ready to nip compliance risks in the bud?

BrandMuscle makes marketing compliance effortless with our best-in-class brand management solution. With ultra-flexible marketing templates, custom creative services, and intuitive asset search features, our sophisticated solution empowers affiliates to personalize and execute brand- and legal-compliant campaigns without the hassle.

See a demo of our brand management solution today.

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