LONDON: There are various types of strategy, with a plethora of prefixes – business, marketing, brand, advertising – to further muddy the waters, but, says an industry expert, you will generally have one brand strategy and you can have many communication and creative strategies.

In a WARC Best Practice Paper, How to develop a creative strategy, planning consultant Merry Baskin cuts through the verbiage of shifting definitions and job titles to assert that the planner’s job remains developing communication strategies that deliver sustainable growth to the client’s business.

One of the problems of the advertising industry, she says, is that words like ‘strategy’, ‘insight’ and ‘idea’ – to name but a few – “can have as many different interpretations and definitions as people sitting in the meeting”.

The irony should not be lost on readers working in communications, she remarks dryly. “A shared vocabulary is key.”

For example, people often conflate the notions of strategy and objective. “Obviously one follows on from the other, but you can't develop a strategy until you have identified your objectives. One is what you want to achieve, the other is how you are going to achieve it.”

Planners need to take a multifaceted approach to their task – Baskin requires them to have a natural curiosity and ” kaleidoscopic minds” as well as rigorous thinking and problem solving practicality – and to understand the business context.

“You need to do your homework and ground the project in the business reality of the brand,” she stresses. “You need to identify the challenges it is facing and the business goals and strategies designed to address or redress them by the Board and CFO.”

In fact, “spend as much time nailing the problem as you do developing the strategic solution”, Baskin advises, “because the marketing goals and strategies will fall out of the business ones”.

Developing a creative strategy then becomes essentially a linear process, whereby the planner defines the communications objective and identifies potential barriers, considers market trends and drivers, looks at what assets the brand already possesses to help overcome barriers and then develops possible solutions for further research.

Finally comes the writing of the creative brief – the target audience is not the client or consumer but the creatives/designers – and “clever thinking” around channel choice for delivering it is required. 

Sourced from WARC