As Director of Strategy at Emotive Brand, Taylor works at the intersection of analytical rigor and creative inspiration. An account planner with a background in both research and creative strategy development, his work helps leaders and organizations discover and embrace positive change. In this post, he offers his thoughts on the significant role of planning when it comes to creating a meaningful brand strategy.
What’s your best definition of planning?
I spoke with a guy at NASCAR and when I asked him what he did he said: “I make the car go faster.” Simple as that. I would argue that planning isn’t just about speed. More important, it’s about the ability to adapt. It’s about flexibility. It’s a set of tools, perspectives, and practices that set organizations up for success – that out-adapt and out-mean the competition.
What is the goal of a planner in brand strategy?
The goal of the planner is to help leaders and organizations realize their purpose. Planning reshapes markets and creates more powerful and profitable bonds with people inside and outside of the organization.
In practical terms, it comes down to alignment. The planner asks: what is your purpose and how can we make that purpose meaningful to the people important to your success? To do this, planners have to consider how the brain works, how culture works, how humans behave. It’s not just about the product or benefits. It’s about meaning.
Good planning creates clarity in the face of information overload. It helps people to move forward feeling inspired and fired-up about common objectives that everyone can stand behind. A successful planner makes the complex easy to embrace.
How does planning help change how people see business challenges?
There is always a lot to do. Many of the executives, I’d say most, spend their days in ‘heads down’ mode, dealing with never-ending urgent issues. This can lead to laser focus or tunnel vision, usually both. My role is to help them see where they are and where they are going – making sense of the pace and direction of change in the outside world, identifying the evolution of expectations, and the shifts that will open up opportunities and possibilities.
We are all human, and we are prone to focus within the bubble in which we operate in on a day-to-day basis. It’s habit. Planning opens up the bubble and gives larger context to what’s happening. It opens the aperture so that the people who matter to your business can see the world from multiple points of view. These perspectives help build a new understanding of the challenges and give the organization the available tools to address those challenges.
How does planning play a key role in developing a meaningful strategy?
Planning aligns brand strategy with business strategy, and this alignment promotes more meaningful and inspired strategy. It empowers people to make meaningful, incremental, and disruptive strategic decisions with confidence.
Do you think planning promotes creativity in this way?
Yes, planning is inherently creative. Account planning comes from advertising and this type of planning is three-fold. First, planners work with clients to understand their purpose, situation, needs, and objectives. Second, they place the situation within the broader frame of culture, customer, and category. And third, they work with creative minds to make sure the strategy moves forward as powerfully as possible.
Planning is strategic, and strategy is intrinsically creative. And the first two stages of planning set the stage for creativity. Planning makes innovation less risky.