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NOT NECESSARILY in the right order

Some people are naturally more outside-in when developing a brand strategy. Market orientation, start with the consumer, you are not the customer.


Others are more inside-out. Why do we exist? How do we do things? What do we do? The circle of we’s.


But wherever you start, you need to cover the same ground. Diagnosis, strategy, tactics.


If you break that down, there are probably nine steps involved, which sounds a good number:


1. Understand your consumer


2. Study your competition


3. Interrogate your brand


4. Decide on your strategy


5. Develop your product


6. Widen your availability


7. Set your pricing


8. Create your communication


9. Validate your decisions


But businesses don’t always follow a straight path.


There might be pressing matters, like the cost of everything going through the roof.


Or a product experience falling behind a competitor’s.


Or nine separate steps feels too long and laboured. Maybe you did have the answer coming out of that first meeting.


Or you and the team follow the process, only to find no one’s excited by the outcome. Post-its flutter silently to the floor.


It’s that old tension between evidence and intuition, science and art.


Marketers versus marketeers.


It also reminds me of trying to answer a maths question.


There’ll be the textbook approach. Do this, then do this, then do this. Don’t forget to show your workings.


And then there’ll be the elegant solution. Sit back, look at the problem, find a clever way to solve it.


Like the Folded Paper Proof of Pythagoras’s Theorem (here).


Or how do you tell if a number’s divisible by three?


So the ideal process for your brand strategy development may well be 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9. It’ll look good on the Gantt chart.


But it might be 2-5-3-1-6-4-9-7-8. Because, you know, real life.


And a hunch.


In the end, it won’t matter as long as you get there. As long as your strategy defines your target, positioning and objectives. As long as you make choices.


Both those numbers are divisible by three, by the way.


123,456,789 and 253,164,978.


Add the digits together and see if the total’s divisible by three.


It’s magic.


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