Strategy development, brand strategy, and communications planning are intertwined elements in building and maintaining a successful organization. Though they serve different specific functions, they are interdependent and should be cohesively aligned to effectively meet business objectives. Here’s a breakdown of how they relate to one another and the sequence in which they should be developed.
1. Strategy Development: The Master Blueprint
This should generally come first. Strategy development encompasses the overall plan and roadmap for your business or project. It is the highest level of planning, setting the overall goals and objectives of the organization and the means to achieve them. This can involve market research, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, and other big-picture planning tools.
Components: Vision, mission, core values, long-term objectives, and tactical initiatives.
Outcomes: This provides a framework for all subsequent strategies, including brand and communications strategies.
2. Brand Strategy: The Identity of the Business
Once you have a broader strategy, you can delve into brand strategy. Brand strategy defines what your brand stands for and how you want consumers to perceive it. This involves positioning, differentiation, brand voice, and personality.
Components: Brand identity (logo, color schemes, etc.), positioning, target audience, unique value proposition, brand guidelines.
Outcomes: A brand strategy will inform how your business presents itself in every interaction it has with the world. This includes but is not limited to product design, customer service, and, of course, communication.
3. Communications Planning: Spreading the Message
The communications plan is often the last piece of the puzzle, as it focuses on how to communicate the business and brand strategy to various stakeholders, including customers, partners, investors, and employees. This plan typically involves multiple channels and methods, such as PR, social media, advertising, and internal communications.
Components: Communication objectives, key messages, communication channels, content calendar, and evaluation metrics.
Outcomes: A communications plan ensures that all the information about your company, both internal and external, aligns with your overall strategy and brand identity.
How They Fit Together:
Alignment: Your communications should reflect your brand, and your brand should fit within the framework set by your overall strategy. Failure in one can weaken or misdirect the others.
Consistency: Consistent branding and messaging are easier to achieve when all three plans are aligned. This consistency helps build a stronger, more recognizable brand.
Feedback Loop: Effective communication can provide insights into the effectiveness of your brand and overall strategy, allowing for adjustments and pivots as necessary.
What Are The Risks of Branding & Communicating Without an Overall Strategy?:
Embarking on brand strategy or communications plan without a foundational overall strategy can be a perilous endeavor. In can lead to misaligned objectives, wasted resources, and marketplace confusion. Without a guiding business strategy, there's a risk of creating a brand that doesn't resonate with the target audience or align with business goals, resulting in inconsistent messaging and strategic vulnerabilities. Such missteps can necessitate costly rebranding and make it challenging to measure success, all while leaving the business exposed to competitive threats and missed market opportunities.
To summarize, the development process generally starts with the overall strategy development, moves on to brand strategy, and then finalizes with communications planning. However, in reality, the three are often revisited and revised in an ongoing cycle of strategic adaptation and execution.