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Here’s one way to see if your company has a brand plan.  Summon department leaders and one random dept. employee into the conference room on a Monday morning. Ask each of them to create a PPT presentation describing the company mission in twelve pages — no more, no less. Make sure they explain what the company Is and what the company Does. (Here referred to as the Is-Does.)  Ask them to report back by 1 P.M., where sandwiches will be served and the work reviewed as a group.

As with any research, offer up that there are no right or wrong answers and grades will not be issued. 

Companies with strong brand cultures will share presentations containing similar organizational structure and language.  The other 92% will be a mash-up. What will they mash up?  Learnings from category-leading brands. Things they recall reading in the trade press and news.  A little bit of personal aspiration, maybe some lyrics from the company PR boiler plate and, likely, some CEO language. A doggy’s dinner as Fred Poppe might have said.

In companies with tight brand plans, every employee knows what business they’re in. They can articulate what products are sold, what customers care about and the business-winning goals. These are business fundies. This is strategy.  It’s worth sharing with employees.  

Try this brand plan test out and see what can be learned about from a few simple PPT sides. Peace.

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As a marketer, I’m not a big template guy. In fact, I believe templates can be harmful.  At Zude.com, the world’s first drag-and-drop web community, the secret sauce was that everyone, grandmothers included, could design and create their own web pages. (No code required.)   By dragging and dropping or copy and pasting objects onto a blank Zude page anyone could have a unique web site.  But by providing new users with a large assortment of design templates  took that secret sauce and short-circuited it.  Fail.

PPT templates hinder presentation creativity. Marketing brief templates reduce output quality. And website design templates make for a Levittown approach to digital marketing. Formula TV shows (80% of Americans know who the bad guy is by minute 40), Googled business plan formats, and repurposed corporate documents and RFPs are infecting the creative side of our brains.

Tables and graphs and well-organized data are still important time savers. As long as there are organized inputs, there will be templates. But we must learn to stop repurposing stuff and create things anew.  To all templates, perhaps we should add the line: “If this template could talk, what would it say?”  Go forth and try to de-templatize.  Peace in the Strait. 

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