Client Direction. No Thanks.

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I’m a fan of Sweathead, the brand-centric consultancy of Mark Pollard.  He does what I do but way more publicly. We’re likeminds I think.  In a missive today about ChatGBT he mentioned brand planners have a problem when clients provide a lack of clear direction.  He wrote:

“Strategists may struggle when clients or stakeholders provide vague or inconsistent guidance, making it challenging to develop effective strategies.” 

This seems very sound advice. In fact, I recently read somewhere that this a potential weakness of AI — the AI response is only as good at the question posed. Again, sensible.

Interestingly though, in my work, I don’t care if a client provides clear direction. When doing master brand strategy, I’m not looking for direction.  First, I follow the money. Then I interview key stakeholders, happy customers, SMEs and maybe the disaffected (if I can find them). We talk. I query, I follow the threads and look for anything resembling “proof of quality.”  The word direction doesn’t come up. 

What comes out of the sausage maker when all the info is gathered, assembled, boiled down and repatriated? That’s direction. Direction in the form of an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging. The definition of brand strategy.

Peace.