Building ‘operating principles’ for brand strategy over ‘brand values’ can offer more flexibility to marketers and offer measurable and actionable goals rather than vague value statements, according to a leading planner.

Writing for WARC, Tom Donald, Head of Strategy at Re Agency in Australia, argues that brand strategy processes too often descend into generic platitudes that don’t serve the brand.

“When brand strategy maps are thoughtfully constructed and fit-for-purpose, they can be a critical tool for helping a company navigate its way to success,” he writes.

“But when the map is a one-size-fits-all template, it is usually the definition of ‘bad strategy’.” (For more on developing measurable, actionable operating values for your brand, read the WARC article Rethinking brand strategy: operating principles vs values).

If agencies are to serve their clients properly and avoid a ‘template-style strategy’, says Donald, “we need to interrogate every element on our brand strategy maps at the beginning of each project to ensure they are fit-for-purpose for the client in front of us.

“Don’t get lazy. Don’t assume one approach suits all clients when it comes to documenting a brand strategy,” he advises.

Developing core ‘operating principles’ for the brand, over prescriptive brand values, can be a helpful tool for marketers, he suggests. Inspired by and taken from military strategy, operating principles outline exactly how a team requires its members to operate in the field while executing the mission. Operating principles are action-focused, not attitudinally-focused.

“It is very difficult to develop products, branding, and advertising that adhere to all of your company’s values,” he points out. “Use your brand’s positioning, proposition and personality as your creative ‘jumping off points’ instead.”

Crucially, operating principles should set a structure for brand activity, and be easily measurable.

“To execute a complex mission, including reaching ambitious business goals, more important than what your employees believe or value is what they do,” Donald states. “The same is true for delivering consistent, high quality brand experiences – action is key.”

Sourced from WARC