Brand Strategy: 3 Common Preplanning Mistakes to Avoid (and Their Solutions)
What drives a company to think (or rethink) their brand strategy?
- Is it because the company asked customers what their brand stands for and everyone gave a different answer?
- Is it because they asked employees what the brand means and no one knew?
- Or is it because the competition refreshed their brand so they also should?
Companies undergo a brand strategy based on any one of these factors or some combination.
Either way, the company’s research indicates people are giving different answers about their brand message.
As a result, nobody has a clear idea of what the company does or what it stands for.
The company feels like it’s having an identity crisis
If a brand doesn’t have a clear identity, it becomes just another commodity.
The first step to avoid becoming another commodity is to put a plan together to create a brand. The first phase of putting a brand strategy plan together is the preplanning phase. Here’s how a typical preplanning phase would roll out for many companies.
The first stage
The company is still trying to get clear on what branding itself is. Maybe they think about changing their logo or tagline. Or they think about doing something differently with an advertising campaign. This approach doesn’t get to the root of the problem—but they carry on.
The second stage
If they have a deeper understanding of what branding is, they’ll start planning their strategy by perhaps looking at the competitive landscape. They will start thinking about what they would like their brand to be in the future, perhaps assembling a group of people internally who will be responsible for the brand strategy planning and possibly even reaching out to a consultant or two.
But what prompts companies to brand themselves when they’re not branding experts?
I’ve seen companies brand themselves when they feel like they have the knowledge and the horsepower internally to do it themselves. They think hiring somebody from the outside sounds expensive or they’ll receive a brand strategy that won’t fit them.
It’s like the person who takes on a home renovation project versus going out and hiring a licensed contractor. They think they can do it themselves because they can do it on their own time schedule and can keep costs down. Then what happens is they’ve made a mess because they didn’t know what they were getting into. Then they wind up hiring somebody anyway.
Starting with the right approach is critical for future success.
Three common preplanning branding mistakes to avoid (and their solutions)
Here are three common preplanning mistakes companies make (and their solutions) when going through a preplanning brand strategy by themselves.
Mistake #1: Not budgeting enough time
The first common mistake is not budgeting enough time. Creating a brand strategy is a big undertaking. If you’re creating a brand strategy internally, remember there are employees who have regular day-to-day jobs. Adding this strategy project on top of their current job will add a lot more time to the project than you think.
How to avoid not budgeting enough time
Know that when you’re thinking (or rethinking) a brand strategy, you’ll be digging deeply internally to understand how your company works. You’re going to need to spend a lot of time understanding your customers, the competitive landscape and what people think about you. You’re also going to need time to do lots of research and bring all this research together to create a plan.
Make realistic goals for how much time employees are going to be able to spend on the project. And then you’ll realize this isn’t going to take four weeks—it could take up to four months or longer.
Mistake #2: Poor communications
The second common mistake in preplanning is poor communications. For instance, many companies don’t tell employees that the company is planning a new brand strategy. Be sure to let people know what’s going to be happening. There are going to be a good number of people who will have responsibilities in this project.
How to avoid poor communications
One simple way to improve communications would be to write a letter from the CEO (or whoever is spearheading the broad brand strategy project) informing employees that the company is refreshing and relaunching their brand strategy.
The letter should include why the relaunch is going to benefit the company and the employees. If applicable, tell employees they might be involved in the planning as it goes along. This gives everybody a heads-up and people won’t feel blindsided.
Mistake #3: Not budgeting enough resources
The third common mistake is not budgeting enough resources. Even if you think it’s not going to cost a lot of money internally, you still need to have a budget to compensate people for the extra time they’ll be spending on the project.
You might find that even if you’re doing the preplanning internally, you’ll have expenses in research. Then, down the road, once you get your brand strategy realized, you’re going to have to pay designers to help you update logos, brand manuals and other branding collateral.
How to avoid not budgeting enough resources
In this preplanning phase, budget for the price of the project and your rollout.
- Do you have enough people in your company to help you with this project?
- Do they have enough time?
- What are the costs involved in the planning process?
- What are the costs for research?
- What are the costs for your rollout after the brand strategy is finished?
- What is your budget for designers to design logos or any collateral you’ll need?
- What about budgeting for an advertising campaign if you need to inform your market about your new brand direction?
Make sure you budget the resources to cover the branding efforts before you get going. You don’t want to get halfway into the project and then realize you don’t have enough people or money.
You can avoid these common preplanning brand strategy mistakes by having a clear map for brand strategy planning.