Don’t let your brand plan sit on the shelf

Written by Richard Baderin on Wednesday 13th March 2019

The brand plan should be a living document that a team can use to guide decision-making at any point in the year. Given the effort that goes into the annual planning process, failing to keep a plan up to date is a lost opportunity, and can have a significant impact on brand performance.
During our work supporting the optimisation of brand planning for life sciences companies, we have found that using the following three approaches successfully keeps a brand plan current and supports evidence based decision making throughout the year.
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1. The assumptions checklist

Even with the best market research and quantitative analysis, a brand plan will be based on a number of assumptions. We detail all the key assumptions in one place together with decisions each assumption helped support. Any new information that challenges an assumption can be quickly assessed to determine whether the decisions that resulted from the assumption should be revisited.

2. Insights aggregation

Once a product is actively promoted, new insights become available, to supplement those obtained from the research that took place in the pre-launch phase. Unless carefully documented, it can be easy to lose key pieces of information and to give too much weight to the opinions of the most vocal. Insights collected through structured means should be combined with weekly feedback from customer facing personnel and regular reviews of online resources to ensure that overall patterns of feedback are quantified. This allows a robust evaluation of the evolution of brand insights, enabling appropriate, evidence based adjustments to be made.

3. The nominated antagonist

Brand teams need to be passionate about doing the best for their brand and be fully immersed in many aspects of day-to-day performance management. Bringing a team member not involved in the brand to act as a ‘nominated antagonist’ supports challenger thinking. The antagonist is encouraged to uncover the basis for assumptions and decisions, point out potential gaps or missing pieces of information and generally be a counterpoint to the brand team. It is important that this person has the experience to understand what success looks like and understands the brand objectives, so they can provide strong supportive challenge.

Using these three approaches, together with the performance measurement metrics available, keeps brand plans current and guide team insight-led decision making. There is still a need for a larger-scale brand review at the appropriate time in the year to help with resource planning and budget management but this becomes a more fruitful exercise when arrived at with a team already actively reviewing and refreshing the plan on an ongoing basis.

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Richard Baderin, Managing Director, OPEN Health Consulting

+44 (0)7823 523 387 RichardBaderin@OpenHealthGroup.com