I’ve met some really great brand planners over the years. I don’t like to name drop — but on this side of the ocean they constitute a Who’s Who. (Yes, I’m a bit of a star-fucker when it comes to brand planners.) These exploratories were part of my self-taught doctorate in brand study. Interestingly, they are not all good teachers. They were great listeners though, so intuiting was how I learned the craft. Intuiting and doing.
I’ve also met a good number of average brand planners. Nice people all. They talked the talk. Sometimes communicating in what I call marko-babble or brand-babble. They deliver strategy on a brief (platter?). They create sparks. And use some research. Not a lot of there there.
The difference between the A listers and the B listers, in my opinion, is that the former are more engineers than planners. Do you want someone who engineers your car or plans it? Do you want someone who engineers your kidney operation or plans it?
What’s The Idea? has always been about brand engineering. About creating a product, experience and messaging template that is replicable, sustainable, evolvable — but always drives codified brand value and sales.
I presented 15 plus objectives once to a client who ran marketing for a $4B health system. He told me that was way too many. “How can we accomplish all that? We set ourselves up for failure.” He was a planner. Not an engineer.