Thursday, August 5, 2010

Strategic Planning and Brand Management Must Align

I have always believed that brand management is an outgrowth of strategic planning. Too often, a so-called brand company--usually a firm focused primarily on design, or a PR or advertising agency--comes in to an organization and goes through a brand audit and proposal. Far too often, the recommendations of these firms have no connection with the overall strategy of the company. They do not look at the mission. They do not understand if the company has the internal culture to meet the brand promise. All they seem interested in is a creative solution in terms of design or messages. These activities are doomed to failure and are very costly to the organization in more ways than one.

The costs are not just monetary. Organizations that engage in superficial brand activities actually create a division between their brand promise and its actualization, both internal and external to the organization. Employees look at the brand as being disconnected to the reality they know, and customers learn that the organization makes promises it cannot keep. This creates additional cost in terms of diminished reputation. In one study by Majken Schultz and Mary Jo Hatch (the Expressive Organisation), it was found that some 70% of employees at companies the researchers studied, did not understand and were not committed to the brand strategy of the company. Considering that it is impossible to have a corporate brand if the organization cannot live it, what the authors found is a typical recipe for disaster.

Because of these problems, I developed a process called DIFFERS, which starts with strategy before getting organizations into branding, organizational engagement, and marketing communications activities. It forces companies to think strategically and not jump to the more creative aspects of branding.

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a strategic planning company, Ambler Growth Strategy Consultants, on a brand process for an organization. While strategy should be done before branding, the organization had actually engaged my firm first. We had developed a great positioning, tagline and new name for the organization. It was based upon the best available information we had. Then, the organization began working on its strategy for the future and we realized that everything we had done had to be changed. We developed a new positioning and tagline for the organization. The strategy consultant expressed happy surprise that we were so willing to change our direction and admit that we needed a new positioning since the target markets had changed. She indicated that many brand and advertising firms she had worked with would have remained committed to their original work. While this was nice praise, it was a poor statement on the brand industry. Most branding firms I have worked with in the past are more committed to the "artistic" aspects of what they do rather than the strategy.

Most organizations are suffering from a "trust deficit". Is it any wonder trust is diminished? Stakeholders have come to expect that companies care more about what they say rather than what they do. This is the fault of bad management, but it also is the fault of a marketing and communications industry that is not doing its job correctly.

13 comments:

黃子黃麗旺軒 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。............................................................

文王廷 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼.................................................................

罗韬 said...

要保持更新呦,加油!!!期待你的新文章!!!............................................................

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magna said...

i think this is the crux of the problem and your article a great lesson for all marketers

magna said...

i think this is the crux of the problem and your article a great lesson for all marketers

Cecilia Tyson said...

Great post! I think you have many great points. It is most important for a company to have a strong brand promise and mission, and to have everything else stem from there. Too many companies focus on solely advertising, when they don't realize the marketplae is already overcrowded by advetisements as it is. This is why brand management strategies and reputation management companies have become so important. These types of strategies help companies get ahead in a different way. Thanks for posting!

repfixer said...

A successful brand management is one of the easiest mean of communicating a simple and effective brand to customers. Thus, it is necessary to create a strong brand personality keeping in mind the views and reactions of the customers.
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Fred Edge said...

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Gal Kricheli said...

Thanks for the enlighting post. I came across this post while searching for Strategic planning of Reputation Management.

The milestones of every strategic planning is looking at the broader picture which is the brands' vision in terms of company management.

When there's a vision there is also a way. Ones there is a way - it is much easier to delegate it to it's Subordinates.

Gal

Reputation Management Company in Israel

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