Activating strategy is an integral part of moving your brand and business forward. Your brand strategy is a road map for success that positions your business for the future. It’s the set of tools meant to bring your brand to life and move your business forward.
Activating strategy means you need a strong go-to-market plan in the hands of a motivated, aligned marketing team to steer how the brand looks, behaves, and speaks – inside and outside your business walls.
Strategy is Set. So, What’s next?
The value of a strong strategy can’t be fully realized until the strategy comes into real life execution. And often times, strategy never fully moves forward. There are lots of reasons for failed execution. And without a plan for really implementing your strategy and bringing your brand to life, any strategy (no matter how good) loses its value.
So when developing a brand strategy, one should always be simultaneously asking “What’s next?” This purposeful mentality helps ensure that the brand strategy is carried through, and all the strategic hard work pays off for your brand and your business.
How Activating Strategy Can Go Wrong
So ensure all the work, time, and resources you dedicated to creating a powerful strategy for your brand pay offs for your business in the end. We’ve identified some common mistakes to avoid when activating strategy:
1. Inviting too many stakeholders to the table:
Activating strategy with swift, efficient, and peak-impact is hard when there are too many stakeholders involved. Making things happen shouldn’t be that challenging. Often, large organizations struggle because too many people are involved, and too many levels of approval are needed to move the strategy forward. It’s important that leadership gets aligned from the start about who the key decision makers are and how the chain of command will be structured to ensure a smooth roll-out. This is often a question of pinpointing who’s in charge. Getting approval to move something forward shouldn’t be a matter of jumping through loops.
2. Poor communication between key stakeholders:
Even with a narrowed down group of key stakeholders, when everyone is on a different page about what’s happening and when, activating strategy is difficult. If stakeholders span across departments (as they often do), make sure there is constant communication between individuals. Work as a team and schedule meetings, create calendars, and document progress so that everyone can get aligned.
3. Forgetting to delegate:
Any leader knows that it’s hard to give up power. But part of being a successful leader is being able to delegate, giving work to the right people at the right time. Let people help you meet your goals and objectives, and make them shared goals and objectives. Trust that your people can help bring the strategy to life, bringing them along on the journey. In fact, taking it all on is not realistic or conducive to how the strategy should be brought to life. Delegating from the start helps get everyone within your organization on board with the strategy. This means a better lived brand promise and a better understanding about where your brand is headed, for everyone within your organization. This means people are more engaged, fired-up, and involved in the future.
4. A timeline that isn’t working:
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself. You’ve created an exciting strategy and everyone is ready for it to come to life. But creating an unrealistic timeline for execution isn’t going to help you. So make sure you’re realistic about how long goals and objectives are going to take. Do your research, add time in for mistakes, and accommodate for blips in the road. Set realistic expectations that keep everyone in line. Furthermore, ensure that your timeline is actually followed. Hold people accountable for deadlines and stay true to your allocation of time. Following a timeline will help move the project forward at the right speed for strategic execution success.
5. Always shifting strategic priorities:
Strategic execution is not a time to be going back and forth or flip flopping from decision to decision. Stick to the strategy you’ve created and stay true to your plans. Often times constantly shifting priorities are due to previously mentioned problems like lack of communication between stakeholders, or putting too many people at the table. If priorities do shift, take the time to explain the shift to everyone involved. It’s important that the process is fully understood by everyone working towards the project’s success. A brand strategy is a time of change, make sure this change is clear, directed, and not diluted by unnecessary shifts in plans.
6. Lack of budget:
This is one of the most common mistakes we see during strategic executions. Often times, people don’t realize that investing in brand strategy is only step one. It’s easy to underestimate and overlook the resources needed to actually execute the strategy you’ve worked so hard to create. That’s why planning from the start of the strategic project is key. As a result, when you invest in a strategy, make sure you consider what resources you’ll have available to execute.
And be realistic: change comes with a price-tag. A new visual identity that refreshes your brand and moves it into the future needs a brand logo, photography, all branded material, and a new website. Creating a knock-out visual identity is great, but until it actually lives in the real world it’s not worth anything. Make sure you have the resources allocated for every aspect of the strategy to pay off. So you don’t have to change everything overnight, but you do need to consider what your business can afford to change before you embark on a new strategy.
We know that the best and most meaningful strategy in the world can only make a positive impact on your business if it’s implemented thoughtfully and effectively. Managing and executing change is no easy task. In the end, a go-to-market plan is essential to bring the strategy to life. Avoid these common mistakes when activating strategy and help transform your strategy into a successful, living reality for your brand.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy agency.