I was reading a fascinating article today on the grid system of NYC and the original map that laid it out. Quite the transformative event, that grid system. Did you know city blocks are 200 feet long? Broadway was a path that meandered the length of the island and was left alone, as were the funky streets of Greenwich Village. Back in the late 1800s the grid thing was not well received by everyone, especially those whose houses were located on parts of the gird that were to be torn down to create the streets. But it was this planning and forethought that made NYC the great place it is. Albeit, “great” with an internal design and art tension.
Brand planning is analogous. Smart people have asked me “How do you define a brand plan?” And I my answer, though somewhat fluid, is generally “a single brand promise, supported by three planks or proofs of that promise.” In effect, it’s a grid. What resides in the grid is open for discussion and debate, but everything must fit. The artistry that is brought to life within the grid is what give the brand it’s life, but whether you like the grid word or not the brand plan is an organizing principle for selling more, to more, for more, more times. The brand plan is not just about messaging either, it guides the product itself.
And the tension referred to in the city planning grid analog applies to brand planning. Sometimes an amazing idea is created inspired by a brand brief that does not fit perfectly. It may be just a little off kilter. What to do? Debate it. Study it. Perhaps even build it — and compare it to the plan. Humans organize. Humans also like the unexpected. So build a brand plan, see and live its beauty, and count the change (double entendre). Too many markets today start by counting the change. Peace!