That’s a good question—and, regardless of how many years of experience you might have, it’s one that’s relevant. So, where do you start? Certainly, every situation is unique so there’s no one-size-fits-all, magic carpet that’ll transport you to brand and marketing nirvana. However, we’ve found that generating a comprehensive set of logically-progressing, distinct activities can be the most effective way to visualize and understand what you’ll need to accomplish, and in what order.
It’s no secret that breaking up any massive task into smaller, bite-sized chunks is the only way to make progress. You can’t simply “improve your brand and marketing.” You can, and should, outline and set out to diligently complete all the tasks that it’ll take to do so. Let’s take a very high-level look at the steps that might apply to your situation.
Step 1 :: Define Brand Strategy
Here at id29, we won’t proceed with any planning, creative work or tactics without first having 100% clarity and a firm foundation of intelligence. When done well, the Brand Strategy process not only creates that clarity and intelligence, it facilitates collaboration, management buy-in, focus and discipline in subsequent steps. Obviously, we could spend days discussing brand strategy, but here are a number of the components that you may want to explore:
Even if your company has done some or all of this work before, you are now in charge of it and it’s yours to own. Make sure what you have is comprehensive, current, actionable, intelligent and consolidated into one guiding document that’s been explicitly approved by top management.
Step 2 :: Define Traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies
Strategy sounds all kinds of complicated and painful but, in this case, at least, it’s not. The objective of this step is to clearly define and prioritize what your marketing resources need to accomplish. As absurd as it sounds, we’ve found that many companies and organizations skip this relatively simple step—resulting in bank-account-emptying shenanigans of aimless uncertainty and peril. Largely informed by your defined Brand Strategy, this step may include the creation of specific objectives for traditional/outbound marketing, digital marketing, e-commerce, content/inbound marketing, sales support and more. Those specific objectives should be prioritized and allocated a corresponding percentage of the overall marketing budget that you set during the Brand Strategy phase.
Step 3 :: Create the Brand’s Design, Narrative and Creative Platforms
This step is what most people think of when they think of building a brand building. It is here where you use the what you’ve discovered in Steps 1 and 2 to revitalize or overhaul your company’s foundational brand assets such as identity system, story and creative platform. These are the core assets you’ll use to represent your company or organization at every touchpoint in your customer experience. If you have a capable in-house team to work with, they’ll appreciate the detailed and thorough work you’ve done in Steps 1 and 2—trust me. Note: Since this step can take quite a bit of time, we often find that it makes sense to place this on a parallel track with Step 4.
Step 4 :: Define Traditional and Digital Marketing Plans
In Step 2, you defined what your marketing resources need to accomplish over a certain period of time. Now comes the hard part: determining precisely how you’ll accomplish those prioritized objectives given the approximate budget that you’ve allocated for each. To oversimplify, that entails systematically evaluating all reasonably possible means of meeting each objective and winnowing down those means based on projected ROI. Essential to this step is understanding the traditional and/or digital channels in which your target segments and personas are most engaged. This step is all about detailed research and iterative refinement until you’ve created a working tactical plan that clearly maps out every step you’ll take to meet each objective. In this step, you’ll also establish your key performance indicators and establish processes to track and respond to them. Assigning responsibilities to both in-house and outside resources should be a component of this step as well.
Step 5 :: Execute Traditional and Digital Marketing Plans
This is where you create, produce and deploy all the tactics outlined in your plans from Step 4—the day in, day out work that will (hopefully) deliver the results you need.
Step 6 :: Evaluate Key Performance Indicators and Refine Each Plan Iteratively
Establishing key performance indicators, analyzing those KPIs and refining your efforts to improve ROI is essential to securing an adequate marketing budget year after year. Gone are the days when marketers could provide only anecdotal evidence of a campaign’s success or point to a jump in brand equity measurements.
What I’ve outlined here is one of an infinite number of approaches you might choose to take. But, it’s a framework that has served us well over the past 14 years. It’s comprehensive (i.e., there are no important brand or marketing-related activities that don’t fall under one of the steps). It’s a logical progression. And, adopting it will show your boss that you’re taking this seriously and approaching your goal with intelligence.
About id29id29 is a brand strategy, design, web and marketing communications studio with big smarts, big chops and big experience. We are a team that truly cares about—and positively impacts—the success of people, companies and organizations who make the important decision to partner with us. We’re a full-service agency who has had the privilege of working for clients such as PUMA, Cobra Golf, SI Group, Bestpass, Sterling Rope and Scholastic (most notably creating and executing the national campaign for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). To learn more, visit id29.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.