Maintaining end-to-end brand consistency is a constant struggle in today’s world. Digital tools make it far too easy to squash, stretch or reverse out the company logo. Employees pick out the wrong fonts or use outdated messaging and taglines in documents and correspondence. Meanwhile, corporate brand guidelines sit on a shelf as everyone scurries to push projects out the door before the three-day weekend.
If all this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. One place where the fast and loose approach to corporate branding and messaging comes together in a not-so-positive way is in responding to RFPs. These response documents can be long and detailed, incorporating content from departments such as finance or manufacturing that may not be as attuned to corporate branding as say the marketing department.
A “final” RFP response with different fonts, styles, colors and inconsistent messaging hardly signals that your company is a finely oiled machine. Instead, your hard-hitting content and carefully worded appeals get lost as your prospects focus on branding miscues. The problem only gets worse when companies go through acquisitions or mergers, or have multiple brands for use in different markets or industries.
Such was the challenge facing Hope Henderson, a member of the marketing communications team at Alera Group where she was responsible for maintaining consistency across marketing materials, including RFP responses. Alera is an independent, national insurance and financial services firm created through the merger of over 75 similar firms from across the U.S. While the local firms still retain autonomy in their local markets, the RFP response process is handled by the corporate marketing team.
Henderson and the marketing team were spending a lot of time and effort on RFP responses, cobbling together content from past documents, emailing back and forth, and scrambling to format them into beautifully branded submissions. “Basically they were Frankenstein RFPs that took a lot of time and effort to create,” says Henderson.
It was also difficult to brand each RFP for the corresponding firm within the Alera Group, while still maintaining consistent corporate branding. “Much of the content can be shared across our firms, but they each have a distinct identity. We wanted every RFP to reflect those distinctive brands,” she says. “They can also use the Alera Group branding if they’re going after a bigger client for example.”
Like many companies struggling to maintain brand consistency, Alera needed a centralized, well-managed way to store properly branded templates along with the most up-to-date content and on-message responses to common RFP questions. This realization led Henderson to the RFPIO cloud-based response management platform, giving Alera a way to automate RFP responses and improve brand consistency.
What really sold Henderson and the team at Alera Group was the platform’s customizable export template feature. Instead of having to track down the right logos, fonts and color palette, everything was easily accessible. A content repository, called the Answer Library, gives Alera Group a centralized place for content and branding details that they can categorize by firms, owners, line-of-business and more.
“The RFP platform gives us the ability to easily find shared content, tailor it to specific firm offerings and then export it in a format that adheres to company brand guidelines,” Henderson explains.
The move to RFP automation also significantly streamlined the RFP response process for Alera Group.
“Since adopting RFPIO, we’ve seen a 20-hour turnaround for some RFPs, or even less,” Henderson relates. “In fact, I can think of one that we received in the morning and sent it out by that afternoon. Previously, each RFP would take at least two or three weeks to complete.”
And you can bet that every one of those RFP responses maintained brand consistency, putting Alera in the best possible position to win the business. Can your company make the same claim?