rearview mirror planners

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Conde Nast just announced its intention to sell its Fairchild Fashion Media to Penske Media for a $100M so it can focus on its core brands. References to core brands and core business is what you hear from companies under financial pressure or companies with slowed growth. There was a lot of talk about core during the recession. The opposite is growth into new tangential businesses. It is what really profitable companies do. Growth companies are looking for that next big business thing. They are investing in futures. Finding places to write down taxes. Google’s self-driving cars, energy initiatives and hardware escapades are non-core.

Brand planners love the core. It helps them see what a company does really, really well. It helps them articulate and cluster competencies. It allows the planner to plumb the depths of consumer resonance. Understanding the core is important groundwork for beyond the dashboard planners. Those who do planning that is future-based. Before Steve Jobs and team came up with the iPod and iPhone, they had to understand the core. Then translate it into futures.

There are rearview mirror planners, sideview mirror planners, dashboard planners and beyond the dashboard planners. The best are a combination of all 4 — but focus beyond the dash. Peace. 

 

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At the end of the day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (now poorly named) has gone up, journalists and pundits are quick to say why.  Good earnings reports. Better unemployment numbers.  And when the Dow is down, there too, is always an explanation. Concerns about interest rates.  Poor weather in the spring.  This seems revisionist theory. Once the day is over someone decides what historical event made it so.  If the weather was reported like this, we’d skewer that profession less.

Two Approached to Planning
There are two approaches to brand planning: forecasting and reporting.  In my brand planning practice I often talk about rearview mirror planners and side view mirror planners. I’ve even begun to talk about dashboard planners. All three classifications operate in reporting mode. But it is the “beyond the dashboard planner” that I enjoy and choose to learn from. Those who see and look into the future.  Be you one?  It’s scary. You may pizzle yourself if big money is involved.  The best planners are about the future.  They are not bound to repeat the future. They are create it.

A lot of ad agencies like to talk about culture.  Creating culture. Many people in the business scoff that the notion. Not me. I’m all up in it. It’s daring, exciting and fulfilling.  Creating a selling and buying culture is more than infusing new language into the lexicon. Where’s the beef? It goes deeper than that. That’s where anthropology meets brand planning. Where the past informs the future.

Peace.

PS. Is Weiner becoming more of a weiner or is it me?

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Find or Form

In brand planning there are typically two approaches.  Find  the brand Idea, which is a bit like a truffle hunt or form the brand idea, more akin to gestation. They are both fun and both hard. 

Find usually takes the planner through the grasses and woodlands of the brand’s past. Readers know I’m not a rearview mirror planner, but the past contains many clues. Hard and soft.  It helps to know where you’ve trod in order to know where you are going. But going forward you are. Understand the product, people, place, price and promotion fore and aft – and those of competitors — and you should be able to locate a brand idea that suits your business strategy.

Form focuses on new products and services; those that have never seen the light of day. Form brand ideas require mad context.  Who, with what, and where will this new product be competing?  If in a completely a new category, what person, place or thing will this new product replace?  A rich new rich jungle tea might, for instance, compete with coffee not other teas.

And remember be it find or form, your idea needs organized support planks — planks that prove the idea.  Lastly, do not confuse a brand idea with a campaign.  As we all know, campaigns come and go. Peace!

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