Traditionally, developing a brand strategy has been like a chess match. Slow, calculating, methodical moves that unfold over time to hopefully set a marketer up for success. While we can agree that taking all the steps necessary to create a compelling brand strategy is important, there are instances when the budget and timeline don’t cooperate.
When a 3-month timeline and 6-figure budget isn’t in the cards, marketers are sometimes left developing a strategy solely based on gut without the benefit of research or simply jumping right to creative development and hoping that a brilliant strategy articulation will be a serendipitous byproduct of the creative development process. Both situations are less than ideal and can end up creating months of rework and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in missed opportunities.
So, what’s the alternative?
INTRODUCING THE BRAND STRATEGY SPRINT™
Over the past decade, The PARAGRAPH Project has worked with over 200 brands across dozens of industries. Through these experiences, we’ve scrutinized every component of the process used to develop brand strategies and have identified the most essential steps, the most important conversations to have and the most efficient research methods.
This has allowed us to condense the process down to two weeks. We call it our Brand Strategy Sprint. The Brand Strategy Sprint lifts the veil on the often too-cerebral strategy process of yesterday. It’s an antidote to over-analyzed processes, over-thought methodologies, and long approval processes. It’s just enough to get any brand started down the right path.
WHAT IS IT?
The Brand Strategy Sprint is designed to help any brand – big or small – uncover and articulate its core essence with clarity, quickly. It is a two-week, hands-on process for answering critical business and communications questions through collaborative worksessions, scrappy research, prototyping solutions, pressure testing potential directions and crafting a compelling brand positioning recommendation. There are four key phases of the process with each day serving a specific purpose.
The Brand Strategy Sprint is a two-week process that toggles between divergent and convergent thinking, simultaneously stretching the boundaries of what a brand can represent while providing clarity and focus.
The Brand Strategy Sprint offers a different approach. There are a few conditions that need to be understood and accepted in order to make it work.
Embrace the 90% Solution. With this approach, we must prioritize scrappiness over exhaustiveness. Without huge budgets and timelines, we might not be able to get to a 100% solution. However, with the two-week-long sprint – which utilizes any number of a dozen research tools and techniques that cost less than $500 apiece – we can land on a 90% solution for a fraction of the cost.
Adopt a Mission Mindset. Think in terms of “research missions” rather than “research projects.” Research projects are big and often try to check off on a number of objectives simultaneously, making them unwieldy and expensive. Missions, however, are laser focused. Creating a single research mission to tackle a single research objective is a quicker and more enlightening way to go about things. A few missions can come together to uncover new opportunities for a brand, in a matter of days.
Reframe, Don’t Reinvent. With an expedited approach, it’s important to start with what we know and build from there. Rather than start from scratch, The Brand Strategy Sprint leverages existing research and knowledge and sheds light on where the information gaps are. Often times, team members already have an answer in mind. Our process uses intuition as a starting point but elevates it to new, more inspiring places.
Make Decisions Quickly. Decisive thinking is a must. The activities built into the process are designed to gather input and distill thinking quickly so that decisions can be made efficiently and before moving from one step to the next.
WHO IS THIS FOR?
While the Brand Strategy Sprint approach might not be right for every assignment, every brand at some point in time runs into situations where this approach can be beneficial.
For marketers, this approach can be especially helpful if their company is more entrepreneurial with limited budgets but big-brand aspirations. Non-profits can also leverage the Brand Strategy Sprint to fine tune their messaging without incurring huge costs. Even larger companies may opt for this approach when launching new products or supporting sub-brands with smaller research and strategy budgets.
For agencies, this can be a turnkey approach for developing a killer pitch deck for new business. And for occasions when existing clients ask an agency to develop creative concepts but still have unanswered strategic questions, the Brand Strategy Sprint is a way to get to a concise, compelling brief quickly. Convincing a client to invest in a two-week sprint can ultimately save a lot of time and money on the backend by eliminating potential rounds of rework due to an unfocused or off-the-mark brief.