Rashi Goel

Head of Consumer Communications, Nestlé

Eight Sins to Avoid While Building Annual Brand Plans

Article by: Rashi Goel, Director Marketing & Communications, Nestle

Rashi’s Blog: https://performonks.com/

It’s that time of the year again. All marketers burn the midnight oil to create brand plans for the next year. An excellent plan and an even more excellent presentation, can help you shine.

While building your plans, avoid these eight common sins.

#1 LEGACY THINKING

“We have always done things this way.”

You are following historical precedence and are playing in the zone where innovation goes to die.  Since you have ‘hand me down’ plans, maybe you are appealing to an older generation of consumers!

Shows risk avoidance mindset.

The only thing that belongs in the past when the world is changing so fast, are your memories…. of last year’s marketing plans. Build on last year’s plans to make them stronger. Retain the parts that work and add new activities that mirror the consumer’s changing world.

#2 YES SIR, NO SIR, THREE BAGS FULL SIR

“My Manager Asked Me To”

You are great at towing the line and executing what you have been asked to do by your manager. What’s more, you are quick to ‘blame’ all that goes wrong on your manager.

Shows you care more about career management than learning.

Develop independent thinking. Apply, learn, unlearn, apply again. If faced with resistance, ask for a small budget to try out your hypothesis.

#3 OSTRICH EFFECT

Brand plans that are tone deaf to the external environment, changing consumer trends or competition activity.

Shows an inward looking mindset.

Develop interests and curiosity in the outside world and allow it to inspire your marketing plans. Let consumer research inform your brand plans.

#4 TICK BOX

Not really going to the depth of the issue. Settling with a superficial consumer rationale. Going through the research superfically and not really getting to the real nub of what will move the consumer towards your brand. Following company processes, for instance, the innovation stage gate process, just to get through it, by filling the formats and saying the right things in meetings.

Shows a proficiency in understanding the company cuture and stakeholders, a very valuable skill. But absent deep consumer and marketing understanding, corporate maneuvering does not create successful brand portfolios in the long run.

Processes and consumer research are tools to enable you to zero in on sharp insights that will drive growth. Use these tools well. Only then, with deep conviction, align stakeholders around your plan.

#5 MIRRORING EFFECT

Unhealthy obsession with competition. Every acitvity and proposition of the competition is mirrored. Also shows lack of deep understanding of own brand’s unique strengths.

Shows fear. And lack of conviction.

Mirroring competition beyond a point is sub optimal. Develop a plan to create a differentiated and unique way of marketing that works best for your brand.

#6 SILOED THINKING

Multiple siloed marketing programs with no connective tissue of idea, visual identity, or common intent. Not taking into account how the interconnected processes within the company together, deliver consumer value. Ignoring the consumer journey to focus on only one or two touch points.

Shows lack of consumer centricity. Shows randomness in internal planning and weak brand thinking fundamentals. 

Marketing is all about integration – internal and external. An integrated marketing plan leverages the best parts of the internal eco system of the company to elevate consumer value. Additionally, a marketing plan addresses all relevant consumer touchpoints with consistency.

#7 NO CLARITY ON ACTION AND IMPACT ON CONSUMER

If you cannot explain the consumer response you expect from your marketing program, you just got lucky this time. Your luck will run out sooner or later.

Every marketing action must have an impact. And every marketing activity must be designed, keeping the consumer’s world in mind.

#8 BLAH LANGUAGE

Fuzzy and Superficial – plans that could have been for any brand and any category. Shows lack of homework.

Generic and Lazy words – imprecise words that could have any meaning in the context. Shows lack of interest and effort.

Buzz words – you consume social media relentlessly and have forgotten basic elementery school english. Reduces impact in the corporate board room.

Nobody wants “Shashi Tharoor Quality English”, but, simple, sharp, clear language will go a long way to increase your impact. Use precise words that refelect your brand language.