The research and analytical components of the Discovery provide a solid foundation for the more proactive steps taken in Part II: Development. Each step of this phase of work is intended to enact the research and build the tangible assets of the brand. The process is informed and guided strategically by the thorough, if not exhaustive, Discovery phase. It includes development of an overarching value proposition of the organization — one which grows out of the enterprise strategic plan — as well as key messages focused on all defined sectors, audiences, needs, and desired outcomes. It also includes an audit of all communications and marketing assets to determine which are most effective and in some cases, which can be eliminated to open the door to new tactical products or events, or even cost reduction. As with most things, it begins with the creation of a roadmap:
Strategic Planning (Core Value Proposition, Positioning, Differentiation, Mission/Vision/Values)
Jack Welch once said, “Look, I realize that defining a good mission and developing the values that support it takes time and enormous commitment. There will be long, contentious meetings when you would rather go home. There will be email debates when you wish you could just go do real work. There will be painful times when you have to say goodbye to people you really like who just do not get the mission or live the values. On days like those, you might wish your mission and values were vague and generic. They can’t be. Take the time. Spend the energy. Make them real.”
Building a clear consensus on the principles of the organization is critical. Without that clarity of mission — and an understanding and agreement of the unique differentiation of your brand, its position among competitors and peers, and an alignment of the brand strategy with the enterprise strategy — any subsequent work will be compromised. From this initial step, progressive steps can be taken to define and architect the portfolio of brands and service offerings.
Brand Assets and Architecture
Some organizations have proliferated other products and service lines or sub-brands that require an occasional review or audit to define and structure those brand assets. In many instances, this work is focused on valuations of the sub-brands, how they are performing financially, how they support the parent brand within the context of all operations, and how they might be better leveraged to deliver even more value.
“Within the brand architecture of a company or an organization, much care and attention need to be devoted to how we associate divisions, subsidiaries, sub-brands, etc. with the parent brand. Think: Chevrolet as it relates to GM – and to Cadillac, and to Buick, etc.,” says Frank McGill, McGill + Partners Consulting. “Or in a nonprofit environment, the organization to, say, its Foundation.”
Communications Matrix (Audiences, Key Messages, Channels, Desired Outcomes)
Obviously, every organization has the need to consistently project an overarching brand promise — or a core value proposition. However, there are key messages that serve to promote benefits to each audience, or to build recognition for distinct offerings.
We often see ineffective or inappropriate applications and confusion in the alignment of key messages being directed to the right audience, at the right time, across the right channel, in order to achieve a desired outcome. It’s understandable that this occurs, given the plethora of touchpoints and channels available, all of which require a fluid stream of content. During this process, we aim to identify and list all relevant audiences — and there are more than one would think. With this information, we focus on the desired outcome for each audience communication, and map the key messages that best resonate with each audience in order to achieve the desired result. Based on this work, we begin listing and cross-hatching to match the most effective channels and tools with each audience segment. Ultimately, the final deliverable is a matrix or “message-map” that is both a touchstone for all future marketing and communications and a very practical “tool.”
(Brand Development: Part II(b) – to be continued)