Strategy is often misunderstood and misused, argues Wavemaker’s Erge Güçlü Ayar  it’s time to reclaim it.

In the creative industry, if you use this magical word it looks fancy, sexy and smart. It sounds cool – I totally agree. But no: please do not use this word if it is not “strategy”.

Operational directives are not strategy. Strategy is about building a game plan, building systems, building a backbone with soul. The insight feeds the strategy and the creative activates the strategy. Those are completely different concepts.

So let's get back to the basics and start with “what is an insight?” – one of marketing’s other ‘cool’ words. It is the kickstarter of marketing intelligence. At Wavemaker we define an insight as “An informed understanding of the unmet consumer need that our strategy must address.”

Our insight must be based on knowledge and must connect to the client problem we’re trying to solve. The “unmet consumer need” is crucial because it shows where we can make a change. In an insight we’re also looking for something that demands a strategic response.

The eventual strategy includes ideas, content, activation, etc. but the most important thing is it should solve the business challenge with the support of the insight.

This is not a static game, this is a competitive game and we love it. Each brief starts another game with another challenge. New cards are dealt each game.

Often people say “insight” when they mean “data”.

Data is based on numbers and it is raw. We process it, make sense of it, make a connection between it and create the insight that will start the story. Streets are cities’ skeletons; insight is the frame for strategy.

What makes us human? I think the answer is winemaking. When the grapes are harvested in the spring, the data is being analysed. As the grapes are waiting in barrels, insight is developing. Once you're in a restaurant, drinking your wine as your favourite song plays in the background, you're listening to a clear strategy. If you go home and think about this joyful moment, the media plan has come to life.

“Strategy” originates from the Greek strategos, which means a general in command of an army.

Do we want to lead an army or be the smartest person at the table or be the Chief Simplicity Officer? As strategists, our job description is to make things simple, clear, understandable.

It is all about people. We should not forget that the group we will communicate with is not a robot or a number, but a human. A human with their emotions, sorrows, traumas, happiness, good and bad mornings, passions and tensions…

When I checked Google Trends for worldwide strategy searches over the last five years, the first breakout query was “female dating strategy”. We are not, ultimately, complex creatures, it seems. The context has changed, but since the first human, certain behaviors and the motivation for performing those behaviors have changed very little.

As Julian Cole, founder of Planning Dirty has said: “Strategists wear many hats. A hard hat to build the foundation of the campaign. A nurse’s cap to aid the consumer & business problem. A painter’s beret to translate their idea into media.”

To this mix I add “wizard hat”. In my opinion “turning intelligence into magic” is the best definition of what we do. Thanks, John Hegarty.

We wear many hats and we should not underestimate what we do. You need to read, observe, analyse 24/7 to create something, to say something. Let's not let people use this word undeservedly.

It's not a packaging method; it has a meaning, process and a philosophy in itself.