A brand plan is essential for a successful small business, and creating a brand plan that you can actually use is key. Your plan should include certain elements, like mission, values, and vision statements, and avoid common pitfalls, like neglecting the specific needs of your organization, so it becomes your road map for success.
Major Components of a Brand Plan
Brand plans can come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have the following components. The list below describes each piece of a brand plan in the order that they’re typically developed.
Mission statement: The mission statement is an overarching, timeless expression of your purpose and aspiration, addressing both what you seek to accomplish and the manner in which the organization seeks to accomplish it. It’s a declaration of why you exist as an organization.
Vision statement: This short, concise statement of the organization’s future answers the question of what the company will look like in five or more years.
Values statement or guiding principles: These statements are enduring, passionate, and distinctive core beliefs. They’re guiding principles that never change and are part of your strategic foundation.
SWOT: The reason to include a SWOT analysis (analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) in your Brand Plan is to help you determine the best opportunities to pursue to achieve your growth goals. It also helps you identify which strengths you must develop in the near future to improve your company.
Dominant Value Point (Value Proposition): Your competitive advantage includes what you’re best at compared to the competition.
Target Customers: In this section of your strategic plan, you will identify the wants and needs of each of your target customer groups. This is important in focusing your marketing efforts and getting a higher return on investment on your advertising expenditures. This is because the more you can “speak” directly to your target customer wants and needs in your marketing, the better you will attract them.
Industry Analysis: Your industry analysis doesn’t have to be a comprehensive report on what’s going on in your market. However, you should conduct an analysis to ensure the market size is growing (if not, you might want to diversify), and to help identify new opportunities for growth.
Competitive Analysis: Similarly to your industry analysis, your competitive analysis doesn’t have to be a thorough report listing every detail about every competitor. Rather, in addition to defining who your key competitors are, you should list their strengths & weaknesses. Most importantly, use this analysis to determine your current competitive advantages and ways to develop additional advantages.
Long-term strategic objectives: These long-term brand focus areas span a three-year (or more) time horizon. They answer the question of what you must focus on to achieve your vision.
Strategies: Strategies are the general, umbrella methods you intend to use to reach your vision.
Short-term goals/priorities/initiatives: These items convert the brand objectives into specific performance targets that fall within the one- to two-year time horizon. They state what, when, and who and are measurable.
Action items/plans: These specific statements explain how a goal will be accomplished. They’re the areas that move the strategy to operations and are generally executed by teams or individuals within one to two years. The team section of your brand plan ensures you have the human resources to execute on the opportunities you’ve identified and to achieve the goals you established in section 5 of your plan.
Here you should list your current team members and identify the types of people you need to hire in the next year to achieve your goals.
TouchPoint Plan: Your touchpoint plan helps you transform your goals and opportunities into reality. In this section of your plan, you will identify each of the individual touchpoints that comprise your larger goals and how these projects will be completed. Finally, you’ll map out each of your initiatives, so you know when each project will start and who will lead them.
Scorecard: You use a scorecard to report the data of your key performance indicators (KPIs) and track your performance against the monthly targets.
Financial assessment: Based on historical record and future projections, this assessment helps plan and predict the future, allowing you to gain much better control over your organization’s financial performance
Your Brand Planning Framework
Brand planning has a basic overall framework. Not to oversimplify the brand planning process, but by placing all the parts of a plan into the following three areas, you can clearly see how the pieces of your plan fit together:
Where are we now? Review your current brand position and clarify your mission, vision, and values.
Where are we going? Establish your competitive advantage and your vision. Clearly see the direction your brand is headed.
How will we get there? Lay out the road to connect where you are now to where you’re going. Set your brand objectives, goals, and action items and how you’ll execute your plan.
You should develop your complete brand plan each year, and then update it monthly as actual results come in and you gain more clarity and intelligence. While you will rarely achieve the precise goals established in your brand plan, scores of research show that you’ll come much closer to them versus if you didn’t plan at all. So, develop your brand plan today, and achieve the goals you desire.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is a Branding Consultant/Coach and Copywriter who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 39 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or www.BranWorks.com.