The Two Types of Brand Strategist.


My practice, What’s The Idea?, works on master brand strategy not everyday strategy. I set the strategy for all brand activity, for now and ever after. Unless there’s a big business discontinuity or business model change I’m only needed once. Brand strategists who work at large ad agencies on the other hand, are more seen as ongoing problem solvers. Or creative department lion tamers. They’re a strategic lens for important projects — to keep them scientific and on track.

My work is upstream. Agency brand strategists tend to work downstream, closer to a sale, in project land. I’m not denigrating problem solvers, I love these people.

Both type of brand strategists are critical but if you ask me the most critical work, the fundamental brand work, is with the master brand. Think strategy for winning the war, not strategy for winning a battle. Without the former, the latter can be randomized.

My main competitors are large standalone brand strategy companies like Interbrand, Super Union, Landor and Siegel+Gale. But in addition to doing what I do, they also offer naming, logo development and graphic standards. That’s why an engagement from one of those standalone shops begins at $250,000 ish. I unbundle the paper strategy from all the add-ons. It’s a cleaner approach to master brand strategy.

In master brand planning we discuss the import of importance.

You feel me Jane Geraghty?