brand engineering

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I’ve met some really great brand planners over the years. I don’t like to name drop — but on this side of the ocean they constitute a Who’s Who. (Yes, I’m a bit of a star-fucker when it comes to brand planners.)  These exploratories were part of my self-taught doctorate in brand study. Interestingly, they are not all good teachers. They were great listeners though, so intuiting was how I learned the craft. Intuiting and doing.

I’ve also met a good number of average brand planners. Nice people all. They talked the talk.  Sometimes communicating in what I call marko-babble or brand-babble. They deliver strategy on a brief (platter?). They create sparks. And use some research. Not a lot of there there.

The difference between the A listers and the B listers, in my opinion, is that the former are more engineers than planners. Do you want someone who engineers your car or plans it? Do you want someone who engineers your kidney operation or plans it?

What’s The Idea? has always been about brand engineering. About creating a product, experience and messaging template that is replicable, sustainable, evolvable — but always drives codified brand value and sales.

I presented 15 plus objectives once to a client who ran marketing for a $4B health system. He told me that was way too many. “How can we accomplish all that? We set ourselves up for failure.”  He was a planner. Not an engineer.



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Many brand planners, by title, do the daily strategic work of advertising agencies: “Let’s write a brief for a new customer acquisition program,” for instance.  At What’s The Idea?, I concern myself with work at the root level.   I work on the master brand strategy; the brand “claim and proof planks” that drive all aspects of marketing.  Important as tactics are, they only support and bring to life the master strategy.

Master strategy is brand planning at is most scientific. Done right, it is measurable and predictive of results. But, I’ve just come to learn planning is just that – planning. Only when the plan is followed, activated and enculturated can it work. When not followed, when not complied with, it lays fallow.

Hence “Brand Engineering.”  Brand engineering goes beyond planning. It take a plan through to implementation.  Brand engineering rolls out the plan – insuring understanding and adherence.  When a brand strategy is understood it frees brand managers, agents and consumers alike to participate.

Smart brand consultants get this.  Landor and Interbrand make brand books about this – textbooks really — to explain how to live by the brand. But, sadly, they sit on selves more often than not.

Stay tuned from more thinking on brand engineering. It’s going to be a thing.



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