First an exclaimer, there are two kinds of brand planning: Master Brand Planning, which sets the strategy for all brand activity and Everyday Brand Planning, where strategic planners solve tactical, temporal challenges. Whichever your brand planning approach — mine happens to be in master brand planning — there is a new wave planning rigor that lasers in on the problem. With the main commercial or attitudinal problem in hand, the thinking goes, the solutions can flow freely. There’s a famous quote often attributed to Einstein “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
This hyper focus on the problem is where I take issue — not with the importance of the problem but with the resulting lack of specificity about the solution.
My brand framework focuses on a single solution. That solution is supported, proven and seeded in the consumer mind by three proof planks. The most famous and lasting brand strategy for Coca-Cola is “refreshment.” The proof planks for refreshment are: 1. unique kola nut taste, which hits the mouth and throat with a jolt, 2. served icy cold as evidenced by sweating bottle pictures, and 3. (still working on that one.)
The wood behind the arrow at Whats The Idea? is the solution. A codified, constant pulse of a single solution…supported by 3 proof planks. When a master brand uses this framework, the design of the work is easier, approvals of the marketing simpler, and muscle memory of the consuming public less complicated.
Problem and solution are critical components of brand planning. But I contend singularizing the solution is the critical job of the brand planner.