The work plan for any type of initiative depends on the desired outcome — the tactical deliverables — and that calls for a custom approach to the work. Website redesigns are unique to digital campaigns, which are planned differently from print products or other marketing and communications engagements.
One thing is consistent, however: The Discovery.
The discovery is the foundation for knowledge sharing and fact-finding that informs and guides all work going forward. In itself, the discovery can entail several separate levels of work and focus:
Project Scope Review
The scope review and confirmation meeting can take on many forms, but generally serves as a forum for introductions and a utility briefing for all stakeholders to gain alignment and collective understanding of the basic project scope, timeframe and deliverables, and expectations for process and results.
Review of Existing Research
A transfer of any and all extant research is one of the first requests made of the client team. With a clear understanding of the research that has been conducted prior to the kickoff, this provides any agency or consultant with preliminary knowledge of the situation, and can be valuable to help determine what other front-end research may be required.
Almost all agencies or design firms conduct stakeholder interviews, and with this portion of research being such a common part of the methodology, many client executive managers are exhausted, having already participated in one form or another. However, there is no more important type of fact finding that this platform of experienced insight from organizational leadership. This work can take two or three weeks to schedule, when interviewing 10-15 subjects. In some instances, it may be considered important to collect one-on-one opinions from operational levels, management levels, and even Board levels. Wherever it is necessary and the budget allows further research, we strongly urge interviews among external audiences. According to Frank McGill, of McGill+Partners, “Over the years, I’ve learned through so many engagements just how critical a comprehensive discovery phase can be, especially where there’s robust research and data available. It’s like laying the foundation of a building; if you don’t get it perfect, if it’s not solid, the entire building is at risk. So, make the effort, spend the time at this critical point. It’ll be well worth it later.”
Inventory of Marketing and Communications
An assessment is done of all communications and marketing tactical assets. This includes a review of audiences reached, channel employed, messaging applied, and for the creative team especially, an understanding of how the brand has been applied to date. The work can include things like an analysis of themes, design and photography, but also an audit of consistency of brand approach. Gary Dolzall, Chief Communications Officer of OrgCentric, comments: The early step of taking an inventory — or audit, if you will — of audiences, of core messages, and of channels of communication employed — is invaluable. It is remarkable how often the process reveals that an organization’s emphasis, on outreach to its most critical audiences and the means by which it communicates, are not fully in sync with overall brand strategy. Identifying such issues in the discovery stage provides a platform, as brand strategy and vision takes form, to ensure that audiences, messages, and channels of communication will be fully aligned to desired outcomes and objectives.
Brand Assessment Report
The resulting report is termed different things, but in essence, it is a brand health report with benchmarking established, and clear recommendations for what the organization and brand requires in order to meet the strategic goals in their enterprise strategic plan. This can be a touchstone or road map for the initiative, which can as long as one full calendar year in the case of a full-scale rebranding.
Part I: Discovery
- Project Scope and Process
- Review of Existing Research (Industry, Customer, etc.)
- Original Qualitative Research (Internal/External)
- Inventory of Marketing and Communications
- Brand Assessment Report (Benchmarking and Recommendations)