How You Can Avoid the Vicious Cycle of Yearly Brand Planning

Something strange happened recently. Just like that, in the blink of an eye – it all of a sudden became October. And just beyond packing up swimsuits, donning sweaters, and putting up Fall decorations, there lies something even more dark and sinister than Halloween if you’re in pharmaceutical communications.


It’s First Quarter, 2018: Brand Planning Time.


Last year’s tactical strategy has come full circle, having been the beacon that guided your firm over the past 12 months. Yes, it’s time to start the cycle anew for 2018, by putting together the brightest minds, compelling data, and brilliant ideas in a best-laid-plans document that will steer your content down the river of smashing success.


Now where is last year’s plan? A quick review would be helpful…


Ah, that’s right – you haven’t seen it in months. The once-lauded, admired, and respected brand plan has fallen by the wayside. You and other stakeholders have strayed away from your strategy as your new product launched, the FDA issued new Guidance documents, or you welcomed a new CEO.


So, now that it’s time to do it all over again, how do you avoid making the same mistakes? How do you develop a brand plan that remains relevant, flexible, scalable, and dynamic – while still delivering on business objectives?


You build a better brand plan. Here’s how.


Align Digital and Traditional: By now, you’ve realized that the lines between and among your channels have blurred. Yet, you’re still splitting your brand plan into digital and traditional. Stop with the disjointed approach already! Your digital strategy should seamlessly meld into your brand plan from the beginning – not slapped on top once you’re done. Smooth integration of digital into your comprehensive brand plan ensures better engagement across all of your target audiences.


Buck the Trends: Every December, you check out the tips and tricks that marketing gurus recommend for the coming months. And every year, these trends fail to fully align with your brand message. Instead of following them like lemmings over the cliff, question these trends and how they’ll likely sit with your target audience. If your community distrusts gamification, or is more active on Pinterest as compared to Instagram, go with your gut.


Know Your Regulatory: Nothing’s worse than investing time and resources into a brand plan that becomes obsolete the second new regulatory drops. Before you get too far into the process, send an outline over to your legal department. These guys know their stuff. They’ll tell you that your video strategy may need to change in light of potential FDA Guidance on presenting risk info, or that your mobile ads need to maintain fair balance.


Review, Revisit, Repeat: You promise every year that you’ll do a periodic check up on your brand plan. How’s that working out? If the “Last Modified” date goes back a few months, you haven’t been true to yourself. Use those metrics you so meticulously collect – to measure, assess, and adjust your strategy. Right now, before you forget, pull out your calendar and set up an event for your entire team: A once-per-quarter review of your brand plan.


And while you’re at it, include a bookmark to this blog in your event invitation – just as a reminder, so you’re not making the same mistakes over and over. You know what they say about insanity…


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