Which comes first, the brand strategy or the marketing plan?

It’s the marketing version of the chicken and the egg debate.

Last week we were approached by a potential client asking for help in deciding how and where to advertise.

“I have my logo and tagline, now I just need a marketing plan”.

It would have been easy to leap straight in and help him. After all, he was full of ideas to promote his new brand and he’d been inundated with great ‘first time discounts’ from local advertisers.

But our advice is always to go back to your strategy. Your brand strategy, that is.

The brand strategy is the why and how your brand does what it does. And it really matters. The brand strategy looks at how customers (and other key stakeholders) will experience the totality of your brand.

It should include your vision and mission statements – the why and how your brand operates. The company core values should also form part of the strategy; research has consistently shown that consumers are the most loyal to those brands whose values align with their own. Developing clear customer personas for your brand allows you to understand them in a truly meaningful way.

The brand strategy is the blueprint, the touchstone for all that your brand does. And having a clear strategy can save you money when it comes to developing your marketing plan.

It helps you to:

  • Focus on communicating the messages that are most relevant to your customers
  • Assess creative work in an unbiased way. You may love an ad concept, but having a strong brand strategy gives you the means of evaluating whether it will resonate with your customers and get them to take action
  • Remain objective, avoiding ‘shiny object syndrome’ or the temptation of a ‘great deal’
  • Create internal communications that keep your employees engaged, increasing productivity and lowering turnover

So although we may not be able to resolve the question of the chicken and the egg, we are certain that your brand strategy should come before you spend any money on your marketing plan.

Sara's Hot Take: Invest in your brand strategy if you want marketing success.

Sara Macauley

Senior Strategist, Americas

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