Taking time away from business-as-usual to complete a strategic brand plan is often seen as a luxury or a resource burden for many organisations. They are just too busy and are under enough pressure delivering the expected short term results.
But strategic brand planning is ESSENTIAL!
Strategic Planning not only creates a long term vision & maps out a robust, sustainable growth path for the business.
Strategic Planning and clear direction will also make your business-as-usual more effective & efficient. It will aid fast & informed decision making as you execute the plans. Furthermore, it ensures your increasingly scarce resources and time are allocated to the right initiatives to deliver the growth you desire.
So here are my top tips for running an effective, agile strategic brand planning process.
Side note: These tips can be applied more broadly than brand planning. They are just as relevant when developing an organisation-wide commercial plan.
1. Take the time to understand and articulate the main problem your brand is currently facing. As a brilliant man once said, if you have an hour to solve a problem, take 50 mins to define the problem and then you will only need10 mins to solve it. This problem definition will set the scope for your situation assessment, ensuring it is targeted and time-efficient. It will also guide the strategic choices and prioritisations you will need to make throughout the process. You will not be able to chase every opportunity you uncover so choices will need to be made and it will be those that best answer the Brand Challenge that rise to the top.
2. Ensure your situation assessment is based in fact and data. No one can dispute an insight or strategy that has been born from the cold hard facts. These facts should then be connected together to understand the 'why' behind the data and the 'so-what are we going to do about it'?
3. Look extremely hard for new news and dig deep beyond the obvious observations. Unique insights lead to unique strategy. Finding insights your competitors have not is a form of competitive advantage.
4. As you assess the situation, always look outside first. Understand the opportunities and threats that are present in your sector or category before you start to look inside your business/brand for solutions. Strategic plans should be externally-led. Growth comes from outside. Capability to unlock that growth comes from the inside.
5. After the situation assessment, commence your first round of prioritisation and selection. Prioritise the opportunities or threats that will have the most significant impact on your business/brand and where the ease of execution is most likely. By removing the superfluous or the impossible, you are already streamlining your options before you write objectives & strategies.
6. Set measurable objectives before you write strategy. Be very clear on WHAT you need to achieve, i.e. the action & the impact, before you lay out the HOW. Each objective should be clearly linked to the findings of situation assessment to build credibility & logic. No new news should appear.
7. With a prioritised list of opportunities & threats and specific, measurable objectives to achieve, the strategy and activity ideas should flow. One final round of prioritisation remains to ensure your action plans are realistic and achievable. You have two criteria to pass the ideas through:
a. Which strategies and actions are going to solve the Brand Challenge you defined upfront?
b. Which strategies and action will achieve the measurable objectives you laid out as the result of a rigorous situation assessment?
A robust strategic plan will ease the burden and make your day-to-day, business-as-usual more effective & efficient. Clear direction, fast decision making, logical resource allocation. In the big scheme of things, it is a small investment of time to make .......5 days spread over the course of 3 months or more simply put.....2% of your working year!
So block out the time in your team's diary and if you'd like some help with the process, give us a call. We'd be love to partner with you and ease the burden of planning a planning process.