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5 brand consistency myths: How a multisite CMS can get branded sites back in line

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CMS use cases
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Many enterprises with large and diverse brand portfolios struggle to efficiently create and maintain a cohesive brand identity across their digital properties. Why?

In our webinar on brand storytelling, we asked attendees: "What challenges do you currently experience publishing your content?" Seventy-five percent of responders selected one of these answers:

  • Dependency on other departments
  • Too many disparate systems to work across

The common thread? Most of their brand experiences are built and maintained on different CMS platforms, run by different departments, that roll up to a non-centralized IT department. Working across disparate, inefficient systems leaves the teams behind these sub-brands stuck working in a vacuum, resulting in inconsistent messaging, design styles, and publishing approaches. Often, teams quarrel amongst each other to achieve brand harmony and engage in turf wars to leverage their favorite CMS technology solution.

This situation can cause issues with not just internal teams, but potentially for consumers too, as they are faced with different brand experiences depending on the entity they choose. If any of this describes your business, it’s time to move to a modern CMS solution that guarantees efficient publishing with multisite flexibility. To further drive this point home, we've dispelled five common myths associated with upgrading to a single CMS below.

Multisite myth #1: As long a we have branding guidelines in place, the experience we provide should be consistent—even on multiple CMS systems.

Reality: As stated in Forbes, “brands are built through the consistent delivery of brand promise through all touchpoints.” Branded consistency is a crucial part of any brand’s growth and longevity, as it helps users understand how the various areas of your brand come together. But while the development of branding guidelines and style guides is important, content governance—the system or set of guidelines for how your content gets created and published—is key to consistency.

Using multiple CMS platforms means multiple variations of front and backends, each with its own codebase and its own way of doing things. This results in slightly (or completely) different user experiences across separate CMS systems, even when branding guidelines have been met. Because developmental workarounds are expensive and only go so far, even minor functional differences make it difficult to maintain a consistent look and feel.

Think about a company like Starbucks. If you order a caramel macchiato, you expect the look and taste to be consistent no matter which location you’re visiting. With multiple CMS systems, you may get what looks like a caramel macchiato, but if one element is different, it's not going to taste exactly the same. Maintaining a consistent digital experience is all in the details and no matter how hard you try, using multiple systems will always create variations—particularly when delivering to multiple channels.

One example of this is Indigo Golf Partners, one of the largest privately owned golf course management companies in the country. Because Indigo was using several different CMS solutions to manage and update all of its course websites, site experiences were inconsistent, the creation and maintenance process was incredibly cumbersome, and designing and launching a new site for each new golf course created significant overhead.

After migrating all of its web properties onto Brightspot, Indigo was able to gain more control over digital experiences and corporate branding, manage all sites from one CMS, and launch beautiful new, brand-consistent sites in a matter of days.

Multisite myth #2: Using multiple CMS platforms does not make you more dependent on IT or other departments.

Reality: The biggest problem reported by businesses is dependency on other departments. Whether your IT department is centralized or not, there are often independent IT teams trained on different CMS platforms. And when you use multiple systems across brands, you find yourself with disjointed workflows. Multiple IT teams, developers, tools and systems can lead to a resource management nightmare. Even if teams don’t have to work together regularly, shouldn’t it be possible for them to do so as needed?

Multisite myth #3: Integrating multiple brand sites into a single CMS is a lengthy and expensive effort.

Reality: Modern CMS systems actually make it possible to stand up new sites in weeks rather than months, meaning you can get to market faster and more efficiently than with a legacy system like Adobe AEM or Drupal. In addition, by replacing complicated legacy CMS platforms with user-centric, low-code systems, you can lessen IT dependency. Not only does this independence give you the publishing freedom you need, but it also makes it possible for IT teams to focus on other projects. All this culminates in saving not only money but also valuable time which you can reinvest into your business.

Multisite myth #4: Cross-platform delivery is possible using multiple CMS systems.

Reality: It is possible to deliver a single piece of content through multiple CMS systems, but the same consistency and inefficiency issues persist. Remember that survey answer about depending on other departments? This is where you see that problem magnified.

As an example, consider a business that has four different CMS platforms. This organization likely has four different departments or teams updating each CMS to publish the same piece of content. This leads to four separate workflows that constantly disrupt your content delivery process.

But with content governance, a key component is assigning ownership. It’s difficult to assign ownership when you have multiple teams needing separate workflows to publish a piece of content. These four separate entities, if merged into one single CMS within a unified team, would have a clear point of central ownership.

Multisite myth #5: Content sharing and cross-promotion happens off-site, so the CMS doesn’t matter.

Reality: With a single CMS, your team can publish content once and easily deliver it across multiple platforms. With multiple platforms, that same piece of content needs to be redeveloped and published each and every time. You can continue to expect one bottleneck after another.

A single CMS makes omnichannel delivery easy with a “create once, publish everywhere” mentality. With a flexible, multisite CMS, content is centralized, which makes it easier to find and share—giving a larger organic portfolio of content to pull from and allowing for the potential of cross-brand promotion. If I’m a customer looking for information on Company X’s website and their sub-brand Company Q pops up with related services, you may have just won a customer across both brands or at least made available resources you didn’t even know you had available.

Ultimately the goal is to find a CMS that saves you time and money while delivering a great user experience. And a single CMS that is easy to use and can power all your global sites is key.


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