Is a Brand Plan in Your Plan?
Most organizations have already done their plans before the beginning of the year. But it is never too late if you haven’t. Either way, January is a good month to revisit your plans for the year. Or create a new one. Everyone needs to be on board and ready to do their part. But has your planning included a Brand Plan?
The Business Plan. Relooking at the business plan is a good place to start. The business plan sets the objectives and strategy for growth. It defines operational budgets and other financial considerations. And it will ensure there is clarity around the structure, roles, responsibilities, and accountability within the organization. Among many other things, the business plan defines how the plan will be implemented and used. Regardless of when the plan was developed a leadership review in the first month of the year will keep the business priorities top of mind.
The Marketing Plan. The primary objective of the marketing plan is to provide the strategy and tactics to drive revenue and profitability. It includes specific initiatives to broaden brand awareness, attract new customers, and strengthen relationships with current customers. Among many other things, a marketing plan defines budgets and the allocation of resources. A marketing plan is more dynamic in nature than a business plan. It has to be agile enough to adapt to changes in the market. Reviewing it on a frequent basis is necessary to ensure it is achieving its goals.
The Brand Plan. Don’t have a brand plan? Don’t know what it is? Few companies do. But that does not diminish the value of one.
5 Essential Elements of a Brand Plan?
The objective of the Brand Plan is to maintain and build brand value and equity. The Brand Plan identifies the opportunities for advancing the brand in the coming year. It lays out the strategy and tactics for what and how the brand can move forward. Although there is an overlap with a marketing plan there is one key difference. It takes the long-term view of building value.
A Brand Plan for each company will be different. But there are some common and essential elements that typically comprise the plan.
1. Health Check
An annual brand health check is a good way to keep the brand operating at peak performance. As with anything, it’s important to know what’s working and what’s not. We are living in a rapidly changing environment. The brand needs continuous monitoring to ensure it is adapting to that change. Including a health check into a Brand Plan often will reveal areas to strengthen and overlooked opportunities.
2. Strategy Evolution
The value of brand strategy is its enduring strength. It provides a long-term view of where the brand is headed and what it aspires to. However, it’s always good to revisit the vision, mission, and value proposition to ensure that its evolving in a discerning and disciplined way.
3. Performance Metrics
In order to build brand value and equity, it is essential to define what metrics will be used to measure progress. Each company will have its own priorities. Reinforcing or shifting perceptions about the brand may be important. Brand reach to a broader audience is essential for growth. Reputation management may be another important metric to understand and manage. Setting a benchmark is the first step. Then it’s a matter of having a plan as to what and how to measure progress.
4. Brand Culture
Many companies overlook the importance of their strongest brand advocates – their employees. The health of the brand starts within the organization. It’s the culture that motivates, inspires and keeps employees actively engaged. A good brand plan should include provisions to keep employees informed about what the brand is all about. And, most importantly, what they can do every day to deliver on the brand promise.
5. Brand Management
Typically small to medium-size businesses do not have someone in a dedicated brand management role. But that doesn’t mean that brand management shouldn’t be a function. It can be a shared responsibility. The Brand Plan should identify who is responsible for brand management and who makes brand decisions. A plan for protocol and brand management processes are equally important. And finally the brand management part of the plan should include a budget so that the plan can be executed.
But There’s More. These are the building blocks of a good Brand Plan. But the plan can include much more. It’s a good place to factor in external brand research and internal employ surveys. It can also lay the groundwork for brand extensions, co-branding, and ingredient branding initiatives. Plus keeping the brand relevant means speaking to the shared values of its customers.
Don’t Make This Mistake
Not making a plan is leaving too much to chance. Brand is one of the most important assets of the organization. It is what builds long-term value. Not planning how to manage and take care of it is a mistake easily avoided. Plans can be scaled to fit the business. Don’t be deterred that it takes too much time or resources. And remember that a plan is just that. It’s a starting point guaranteed to change. The investment will pay dividends. That’s how a great brand works.