Strategy is foreplay.  It’s the upfront work that prepares the way for the big event. In brand planning, though, it’s about many big events. As they say in the technology business, a strategy is extensible.

Marketers who get branding understand the role of the brand plan. (Noah Brier –name drop– once asked me “How do you define a brand plan?”)  Creating a brand plan is the most important work a marketer can do, yet ironically less than 1% of all money spent in marketing goes to it.  Go to ConAgra, Microsoft or Heineken or, or, or.  They’ll provide project plans and briefs containing lots of paper and digits on sales and targets. And one page on message.  This most important page is often not message-restrictive…it’s about tonality, goals and insights. You can drive trucks through these pages.  A good brand plan has a tight message strategy. You either hit the claim and support planks or you don’t.  If you don’t, go back to work.

Creative people who hate strategy don’t really hate strategy, they hate bad strategy. Mealy mouthed strategy. Strategy is not about making creative people color between the lines, it’s about using a brand language that helps them speak to consumers through a brand-positive, business-building organizing principle.

Tomorrow, marketers will go off and spend the 99% of their budgets on ads, agencies, video and interactive.  (Cannes rewards the beautiful and funny.) But the Jay Chiat Awards is where the 1%ers are headed. Peace.