So you have your purpose, vision, mission, values and big idea all set. Your leadership team and people are excited, aligned and inspired. Now what?
Most businesses, having done the work on their brand strategy, use it to inform the look and feel of their marketing and then pop it in a draw and forget about it until, some years later, they realise they have splintered their efforts, they are not aligned or joined up and some activities are not making strategic sense. They then dust off the old brand statements, re-write them and go again. The cycle continues.
I'm finding more and more leadership teams who know this is broken. They want to do more. To be more. To create authentic brands. They want to use brands to help operationalise their business. To be brand led not simply commercially led - knowing that if they create the value and meaning they have for their brand the commercials will follow.
But how do you use the principles of brand-strategy to actually make a difference? How do you operationalise your brand?
To “operationalise” a brand means that strategic brand principles are integrated it into the businesses core operations, culture, routines and cadences. It is constantly referred to. There are metrics attached to it. Everyone knows how that what they individually are doing ladders into the overall purpose, vision, mission and big idea of the brand.
Of course, a lot goes into the mechanics of such an enterprise. You need the right people. Engaged leaders. A culture ready to embrace new ways of doing things. But at the heart of things there are some core principles I've been using in my work to help leadership teams live their brands.
In this post I'll run you through a high level overview and the framework I use in my consultancy work. I call it The Brand Operational Framework™ or The BrandOps Framework™ for short. I hope it helps you to operationalise your brand.
The Brand Operational Framework™
The above diagram shows the key elements of the BrandOps Framework™. I'll walk you through the key elements.
BrandOps Framework™ - WHY
These are the key areas of a brand strategy. They help you position your brand and understand its value beyond making money. Defining these helps to align your leadership and people. It helps to attract the right customers. It helps your people innovate effectively, make good decisions and contribute towards something bigger than this quarters numbers.
Purpose: The reason the brand exists beyond making money.
Vision: The improved future we envisage.
Big idea: The simple, powerful and inspirational idea that runs through everything the brand does.
BrandOps Framework™ - HOW
Having ideas and wishing for a better future is one thing. The question is how is the brand going to achieve it?
Mission: This is a short statement which sums up what the brand will do, each day and every day, to make its vision a reality.
SMART Goals: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound. This way of defining goals was developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham in 1981. You can set company wide goals or, as some of my clients like to do, set departmental SMART goals. These are the big goals which the brand is going to hold itself accountable for achieving. These need to be set at a leadership level. Some might be commercial in nature - but remember commercials should only be there to fuel the 'Why' tip of the triangle.
BrandOps Framework™ - WHAT
So what specifically is each leader doing to achieve these goals? This is where I like to use the OKr framework. OKrs are generally credited to being invented by Andrew Grove who introduced the approach to Intel in the 1970s.
Objectives: These connects to a SMART Goal. It describes what that team or individual is going to accomplish in relation to the goal.
Key results: These describes how the team will get there, or the actions that will be taken to accomplish an objective.
KPI: KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. This is an ongoing measuring metric that will be monitored on an ongoing basis to help alert leaders to any course-correction that might be needed.
This framework is flexible and can be used for different sized businesses. Small businesses might like to se their SMART Goals at a corporate level. Large organisations might set them at a departmental or regional level and then use multiple tiers of OKrs if needed to cascade actions down through their organisations.
How to use The Brand Operational Framework™ for planning
I've recently been using this frameworks a lot to help my clients set goals, and hold themselves accountable. It's great to get leaders together for an offsite for a few days and use this framework to help them create a roadmap plan for the next few years.
Here's an example from an upcoming workshop of how you can use the framework for planning purposes:
For each Smart Goal you can see leaders can begin to define the Objectives and Key Results that will contribute to achieving success.
I like to work with leadership teams of clients on a quarterly basis to check-in and see progress. Celebrate wins. Review blockers. Course correct as needed.
What I love about it is it's simple and it puts Brand thinking at the heart of business operations. If set up correctly, it helps to show everyone how their work contributes to improving the world and the lives of customers.
So - as you begin to give your brand life I hope this framework might be helpful to you. I wish you all the best in opperationalising your brand so that your brand strategy is not simply a veneer of what you say. Its a tool for decision making that ensures that you genuinely and authentically add the value to customers so that they say the right things about you!