Without a structured approach, strategic planning fails to touch the ground. Here are the three ways a well-structured brand strategy workshop — and importantly, the deliverables — give you everything you need to turn your vision into an organized, almost-tangible set of tasks.
Strategic planning is great, but what happens when everyone leaves the planning meeting? The excitement is gone and the work needs to start.
- Stakeholders change their minds. As time passes, stakeholders forget the focus they brought with them.
- Stakeholders never bought in. People didn’t really understand the purpose when real life hits because they were never really involved.
- No follow-through. Ideas were exchanged, but nobody had a plan and a clear process.
- Nobody really gets it. Nobody has time, especially since they don’t know which part was theirs.
It’s a bummer when people show up not really understanding the meeting topic and then are expected to be involved. They soon lose interest, failing to contribute and take ownership. Especially when their comments are off-target. But a good workshop offers an explanation, creating consensus, accountability, and confidence.
Consensus Among Leaders
Without agreement among leaders, nothing downstream can be done with any confidence. And without the ability to examine ideas and communicate them — test them against goals, running them through the gauntlet of several points of view from your team and ours — it can be difficult to a) feel like you’re in agreement and b) actually be in agreement, even if you think you are.
- Define the goal. A conversation that leads to a strong idea of where you are and where you need to be.
- Verify unanimity. Diversity is great for some things; but you need everyone on the same page when it comes to goals. There’s just not much room for interpretation here. So ideas about the goal need to be brought quickly from the various versions that are in everyone’s head, in a step-by-step fashion, onto a whiteboard.
- Refine. Once you’re sure you have clear agreement within the leadership, you need several opportunities to clarify, object and refine.
To reach this goal, you need a clear process that brings the thinking onto a whiteboard with clear decisions having been made for each thing. At Resound, the typical brand workshop brings together brand values, personality traits and brand story, so you know how to tell everyone about your brand.
How do we do it? Without getting into detail, let’s just say we use Sharpies, Post-its, a slideshow, whiteboards, worksheets and a lot of hard work and engagement on the part of the participants. And there’s no reason you can’t do the same for content strategy, brand strategy or even product development.
Accountability for Leaders
Without agreement and involvement, leaders can’t be held accountable. They can go their own way, letting someone else make the decision. And if it doesn’t work out, they can parachute in and accuse the other person of failing.
And this doesn’t just happen in big, evil corporations full of self-serving executives. It’s also practical. Remember, everyone’s trying to do a good job, and when you’re busy, you can’t do everything. So if some bright-eyed marketing director sends you an email with brand values, colors and a logo, you have to decide, “Is this really worth a bunch of my time and energy?”
But a brand workshop invites everyone to collaborate, in real-time. It’s a chance to make decisions for the company and to engage with colleagues. It brings all of the leaders on the same page. And if they don’t engage, everyone in the workshop knows it. But if they do decide to engage, bringing their unique point of view to the table, you now have consensus, on which you can build accountability.
Now that the leaders have participated in the day-long workshop and have had the chance to disagree and test ideas, Resound turns their decisions into a description of their company. We clean out all of the noise and focus on what we heard the company say as a whole. And if we stick closely to what we heard in the workshop, delivering a report that accurately reflects what was said, there’s now accountability for the whole organization to move as one.
In other words, when we deliver the final deliverables, they’re written in black and white, with the permission of the team.
Clear Deliverables Mean Nobody Can:
- Change direction.
- Accuse someone else of making a bad decision, as long as it reflects the brand values or traits.
- Fail to execute or support the general direction of the company.
Deliverables for Resound’s workshops typically include a clearly written and thorough set of values, personality traits, and brand story.
And this brings unity to the leadership team.
Confidence for Doers
Perhaps where most plans fail is in how those plans get interpreted for the doers — those people who aren’t on the management team, but end up being asked to do the tasks.
The delegation could be incomplete because the manager doesn’t know what the front-line worker doesn’t know. Sometimes the manager forgets why he was asked to get the task done. Delegation can also fail to convince if the doers are not able to see the “why” behind what they’re being asked to do.
Maybe they just don’t understand that the management is behind the work, in favor of it and in support of it.
For the rubber to meet the road, you need deliverables that reflect the workshop and bring it down to ground level. For Resound’s brand strategy workshops, this is a set of visual and verbal guidelines that front-line designers and writers can use to create brand executions that reflect the brand’s values, personality traits, and brand story in an accurate way.
- Verbal guidelines show writers how to speak for you, delivering meaningful messages with the tone and attitude of the brand.
- Visual guidelines define the colors, shapes, photography and other elements that guide designers to give you a unified look and feel.
- Values, personally traits and brand story all work together as the foundation of these other things.
And when these things are well-done, they help everyone — both inside and outside of the brand — to know what the brand is all about. And you know you’ve reached success when the writers and designers are so consistent that people can even know what the brand would and wouldn’t say.
Convince Your Culture. Start with a Brand Strategy Workshop
Brand workshops are a great example of strategic planning that makes the rubber meet the road. It wrangles disparate leadership goals and ideas into a list of values, personality traits and brand story. It delivers them in a way that encourages accountability since it’s clear and concise. And it empowers creatives by giving them well-documented guidance for how to create what they’re creating.
All this works together to move your brand forward with confidence in a shared vision and express it to the world without friction or confusion.
If you’re looking for more brand strategy thinking just like this, consider signing up for our newsletter, or joining in on our next Brand Roundtablewhere we’ll be discussing creating compelling content and building remarkable brands with an intimate group of brand leaders and marketers like yourself.