The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is your brand’s lifecycle

Recently, Noetic facilitated a brand positioning workshop with a client group of 20 leaders and “next generation” leaders. We divided the group into five tables of four to answer these key brand-building questions:

  • WHO do you serve?
  • WHAT do they want or need?
  • HOW can you – above all of your competitors – satisfy that want or need?

The result: The group had five different points of view on their brand positioning.

Most brand marketers would have been uncomfortable with that result. However, we were happy to see this in the room! The differences sparked a candid and passionate conversation about the brand and the value it creates for clients. Moreover, ideas and “a-ha” moments filled the room. In the end, the group agreed on a brand positioning that connected to its vision and mission.

The story continues

A few months later, our client rang us. The brand positioning exercise sparked deep internal conversations about their business strategy – specifically, their mission and vision. At the workshop, they were committed to their existing mission and vision statements but now wanted to revisit both.

Hearing this was music to our ears because although we all landed on a strong brand positioning, we know that a brand strategy not only connects to a business strategy but also emanates from it.

Noetic Brand-Building Framework

The Noetic Brand-Building Framework

Business strategy and brand strategy are what the first two stages of the Noetic Brand-Building Framework are all about. We use the framework to help brands see where they are in their lifecycle and within their broader business context. 

Each stage of the framework has a specific purpose and a set of hard-working questions to ask about your brand. Ask the questions at any point in your brand’s lifecycle to understand where it is, where it needs to go next, and what it needs to do to get there.

1. Define Your North Star

Purpose: To clarify your “north star” by asking questions like:

  • What is our vision for the company?
  • What is our mission?
  • Do we have a strong growth strategy?

2. Identify Your Brand Distinction

Purpose: To identify your brand distinction, we ask questions like:

  • Who is our core target audience?
  • Who are our main competitors?
  • What is our unique offering (vs. that of our competition)?

3. Bring Your Brand to Life

Purpose: To bring your brand to life internally and externally by asking questions like:

  • How do we educate, inspire and empower our internal teams to grow themselves and our business?
  • How do we prioritize messages and media spend?
  • What campaign metrics should we track?

4. Improve Your Brand Performance

Purpose: To improve your brand’s performance by asking questions like:

  • What are the right benchmarks for us to track against?
  • How will we adjust to optimize our brand?
  • How do we optimize our culture for growth?

A strong brand marketer embraces two things about the Noetic Brand-Building Framework.

  1. The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is cyclical. Your brand is a living, breathing entity that needs to be cared for continually. Last summer, I planted sunflowers in my garden. They grew over six feet tall, wilted, and went away. I decided not to plant new ones this year. To my surprise, little sprouts popped up in the soil a couple of months ago. Last year’s sunflowers dropped seeds that turned into new sunflowers this year. Similarly, a brand will root, grow, and produce the information needed to help develop or evolve into a new brand. Continually nurturing it will help it survive and, more importantly, thrive.

  2. Bringing Your Brand to Life and Improving Your Brand Performance are just as critical to a brand’s success as Defining Your North Star and Identifying Brand Distinction. We’ve seen brands come out swinging with a business strategy and brand strategy they love and wonder – a year later – why it seems no one is “living” their brand. The lack of traction is usually due to an ineffective activation or not keeping track of brand performance, the two stages in which most brands do not spend enough time. 

When a brand does not gain the traction marketers hoped for, we will conduct a brand audit to help uncover what may have gone wrong. 

The review usually reveals one or more of the following about the brand and its efforts:

  1. A business Strategy does not exist or has not been adequately communicated.

  2. The brand Strategy was developed in isolation without the contribution or – more importantly, the buy-in – of key stakeholders outside of marketing. (Read more about the perils of this approach in this article adapted by Fast Company).

  3. Internally bringing the brand to life was limited to making a brand guide available to employees who were expected to read and execute rather than understand and embrace. Limiting internal communication negatively impacts marketers’ ability to create brand experiences externally effectively.

  4. Brand performance elements were not put in place to ensure continued learning, innovative thinking, and progress measurement (i.e., learning programs, KPIs, etc.).

What do you do next?

In conclusion, we hope you use the Noetic Brand-Building Framework to look at your brands – and the business strategies from which they emanated – with fresh eyes and objectivity. If you feel you would benefit from help with this, we hope you reach out to Noetic Consultants. We are committed to strengthening brands and the people who build them. Guiding your brand through the lifecycle – in whole or in part – is a big part of that. We welcome the opportunity to explore with you.

goal without plan is just wish

Goals that achieve a greater sense of accomplishment in 2017

Now that you are recharged after the holiday break, consider thinking about (or re-thinking) your organization’s 2017 goals and how you will achieve them. Do you have a good plan in place for the year? Do you feel stuck or vague on what you are striving to achieve? If you feel that YOU are clear, are you sure that those who report to you feel the same way?

Goal setting is all about knowing where you want to go, and charting the steps to get there. Whether you manage a large organization or a small one, you undoubtedly have goals that you want to achieve. Here are six steps to help you set goals and create the steps needed to achieve them.

1. Create a hearty list of struggles you would like to address.
If you have a team, consider creating the list with them. Doing so will help everyone be invested from the start. Once the struggles are noted, narrow the list to 7 or 8 by having each team member vote for their top three. This narrowed list will become the basis for the goals you will set for the year.

2. Create S.M.A.R.T yearly goals to address the 7–8 struggles.

Craft goals using the S.M.A.R.T. format

Craft goals using the S.M.A.R.T. format

Each goal should be a direct response to a struggle, and written using the “S.M.A.R.T.” format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). For example, an “un-smart” goal might read, “Create a new training program.” A S.M.A.R.T. version of this might be, “Create a social media training program that will launch by Q3 this year.” The S.M.A.R.T. format lets the team know what “done” means when the goal has been achieved.

3. Brainstorm “bite-sized” quarterly goals.

Brainstorm with team members

Brainstorm with team members

List the actions that are necessary to achieve the yearly goal in chronological order. Then determine which of those actions will be realistic to implement within the three-month periods leading up to when the yearly goal should be achieved. Apply the S.M.A.R.T. format to the actions to create quarterly “bite-sized” goals. Using our same example, the training program’s quarterly goal might be, “Complete an assessment of social media skills and needs of the team by the end of March.” Like the struggles list, consider creating the list of actions across all four quarters of the year with your team members.

4. Assign quarterly goals to your team members.
When doing this, you may want to first ask each member which goal(s) they feel best suited to lead, and let their opinion help drive the decision. Consider that it may be best to have different people lead different yearly goals each quarter. This enables you to take advantage of the breadth and depth of your team’s skill sets, and could help generate a collective sense of success across the team.

5. Hold weekly check-ins.
Spend 10–15 minutes with each team member weekly to check in on their progress against their quarterly goals. This is important to ensure accountability and to give them the opportunity to ask for help if they aren’t progressing. The entire team could—and should—be leveraged to brainstorm how to move forward. But the person leading the quarterly goal is responsible for ensuring that action happens week to week.

6. Conduct quarterly meetings.

Conduct quarterly reviews to track progress

Conduct quarterly reviews to track progress

Meet with each team member toward the end of the quarter to assess quarterly progress toward achieving the yearly goal. This is also a good time to review (or recalibrate) the next quarter’s goals. If you have crafted the yearly and quarterly goals using S.M.A.R.T., determining if the goals are “done” or “not done” should be easy. Although achieving every yearly or quarterly goal may not be completely within a team member’s control, significant progress should be visible after each three-month period.

Good planning is all about knowing where you want to go and charting out the steps to get there. It’s not too late for your organization to create and follow a plan that will guide you to greater success in 2017!

Nancie Ruder Noetic Consultants

Nancie Ruder

Noetic Consultants knows that your ability to articulate your strategic vision then translate it into action—defines your path forward and, ultimately, your success. We provide the experience, guidance and know-how to focus your team and engage them in a collaborative, forward-thinking manner. We can work with you to facilitate structuring your annual strategic plans, setting your organization’s yearly, and much more.



5 Steps to Strategic Planning Success

Good strategic planning is all about knowing where you want to go and charting out the steps to get there.  As Yogi Berra famously said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” Whether you manage a large enterprise or a small one, you undoubtedly have goals that you would like to achieve. Here are five steps that will help you chart a strategic course to get there.

Here are five essential tips to help you and your organization get started.

1) Choose optimistic yet achievable objectives. Strategic goals should be ambitious enough to truly impact your bottom line when you achieve them. However, they shouldn’t be “pie in the sky” goals that your organization has little hope of achieving. You should have the human and financial resources needed to accomplish every goal on your list: if a goal is too costly and you won’t realistically be able to achieve it, place it in a “parking lot” for the future.

2) Define objectives first, then the key strategies you will use to achieve them. An objective is a simple and direct statement of what you wish to achieve. For example, “Grow the business” might be your primary business objective for 2016. Key strategies are game plans for how to achieve each objective. If your objective is to grow your business, one key strategy could be “Improve digital marketing.” Often, you will be able to think of more strategies than your organization will be able to accomplish. If this happens, whittle down the longer list by filtering for anticipated impact.

3) Identify tactics to make your strategies take flight. Tactics are the wings of strategic planning: they are the concrete actions that support your strategies and enable you to achieve your objectives. As such, they should be specific and concrete enough to serve as preliminary directives for key management. They should also include timing guidance that clearly articulates when each tactic needs to be completed in order to reach your larger goal.

4) Define who will be responsible for achieving each key strategy. When delegating, we have found the RASIC structure to be very useful in clarifying who will be Responsible, who will Approve, who will Support, who will be Informed and who will be Consulted. Defining these roles clearly and early will help you get and keep all of your key players on board and in the know.

5) Determine how you will judge success. Big goals are often vague. “Grow the Business” is a perfect case in point. This is why we articulate key strategies and concrete tactics in order to create manageable paths to achieve objectives. But how will your team know when you have achieved enough growth? Defining desired results and/or ROI is the final piece of the strategic puzzle that lets everyone involved know exactly what success looks like and when the organization has attained it.

Good planning is all about knowing where you want to go and charting out the steps to get there. It’s not too late for your organization to create and follow a plan that will guide you to greater success.

Nancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300Noetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.