The 5 biggest brand planning mistakes


You know the scene: a boardroom set-up, with free coffee and biscuits aplenty and your most trusted agencies, all enjoying a friendly chat about how to make sure your upcoming campaign will bring home the Lions from next year’s Cannes Festival.You’ve brought these specialists together from the worlds of experiential marketing, PR, media planning, digital and creative to plan your brand activation. Individually, they’ve delivered time and again so to your mind, when asked to collaborate, the results are certain to be mind-blowing.brandplanfails.jpg

After all, a room full of this much creative talent all working towards a common brand goal? What could possibly go wrong? Well, let’s see…

1) You let go of the reins

If you’re watching this boardroom scene through the glass from another room, you’ve most likely let go of the reins. What you’re seeing as a harmonious creative collaboration may in fact be a scene from Game of Thrones, where each agency is plotting the demise of its rivals.

Unfortunately, not all agencies will collaborate amicably. Some will put their own business interests first. As such, it’s essential to have someone overseeing things who is genuinely media neutral, and able to manage how the brand activity gets divided up.

Without this, the most dominant personality could end up with the lion’s share of the budget.

2) You forget ‘less is more’

I’ve sat in these meetings as the experiential agency representative before and counted as many as 25 other people around the table, representing five or more agencies. I’ve met the trade PR, the consumer PR, the social agency, the digital agency, the outdoor creative, the content creative … the list goes on and on.

Simply put, the more people involved with brand planning, the harder it becomes to dovetail ideas, create synergies and prevent time and money from getting wasted.

3) You wanted the sky too blue

Do you really need all those grandiose ideas or does your brand actually require just a targeted, simple concept, executed extremely effectively?

Too many brands waste time on blue-sky thinking and then spend more precious resources distilling all those ideas down into what’s actually achievable, affordable and will produce the desired objectives. In these cases, it would have been better to have just started out small and worked upwards.

Don’t forget to always ask at the beginning, ‘what benefit will that actually have on my business?’ and ‘how does that idea align with my brand’s values?’

4) Ignoring the fact that different disciplines need different lenses 

It’s all too easy to brief everyone on a unified brand mission and forget that each person in the boat will be performing a different function and therefore needs different objectives.

One brief won’t produce the full-range of results that are necessary to analyse the success of your campaign. Consider what KPIs are important for each area and then brief accordingly.

The best agencies will plan how to hit their own KPIs and then look to see how they can contribute to the success of other campaign elements.

5) You released the traps all at the same time 

As the experiential experts, we regularly get asked to bring the above-the-line creative to life. But when we ask what the creative in question is, often it hasn’t been decided or briefed yet.

If you let all your horses out of the gate at the same time, they will spend time and money running around the houses. Equally if you brief one agency too late, you may lose out on their valuable insight.

That boardroom scene we know all too well should revolve around the client, meeting with individual agencies, to progress an evolving brief that gets enriched with the input and ideas of each and every agency that walks through the door.

That’s a plan that’s sure to impress, and one we relish being a part of.

Play hard, plan harder

It takes careful planning, experience, expertise and insight to get a campaign right. Take a look at the essential brand experience workbook for step-by-step planning tips.{{cta(‘93420c56-06c0-41f7-ab9c-91b7c75d0f4b’)}}


Author bio


I'm an award-winning entrepreneur, a passionate business mentor, and I believe that great things can happen when we work together to help others.