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What are the key issues (or opportunities) that stand in the way of your brand? Sometimes, the best opportunities for growth present themselves in front of us as key issues; identifying these key issues can help us achieve our goals.
Key issues can vary dramatically from brand to brand, and identifying them is the first step to identifying the right direction for your brand. Here are some tips for identifying your brand’s key issues.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR WHAT YOUR KEY ISSUES MIGHT BE
You can think of these “considerations” as questions to ask yourself—questions that will help generate ideas for what your brand’s key issues are.
What obstacles prevent us from achieving the vision? What is getting in the way of your brand having market share leadership?
What are the key negative takeaways from the homework (business analysis)? You may have some of those answers if you’ve done your homework and analyzed your current business situation.
Why are we here? In other words, why is it that your future vision doesn’t already exist now?
BEST PRACTICES WHEN IDENTIFYING KEY ISSUES IN YOUR STRATEGIC BRAND PLAN
Brainstorm first. After conducting your business analysis, start by collecting your thoughts and ideas for the key issues.
Group longer lists into themes. Generally, problems are easily categorized into bigger groups. This can help you to consolidate your thoughts and create a more focused approach. This grouping can be easily done by writing each of your smaller, individual problems onto Post-Its or notecards and looking for commonalities.
Edit. Don’t keep everything that you brainstorm. You could pick apart any business or brand and come up with a pretty long list of all kinds of issues and problems that you need to solve, but you don’t need everything. You want to focus on the biggest things. What are the biggest things that are inhibiting your growth?
WATCHOUTS WHEN IDENTIFYING KEY ISSUES IN YOUR STRATEGIC BRAND PLAN
Too many key issues lead to an exponential number of projects.
If you have twenty problems to solve, you will need twenty projects in order to solve them. That is too many projects for a brand team to reasonably achieve at once.
Not digging into the “why”.
Make sure your key issues aren’t vague statements like, “low sales”. You need to dig in and understand why the business is in the state that it’s in. Get specific.
Skipping the homework.
Trying to write a strategy out of thin air without doing the work to understand the story in the data. Don’t settle for hypotheses—what does the data tell you?
EXAMPLES OF GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD KEY ISSUES
Key Issues which are not so good…
- Low market share
- Low profitability
- Low loyalty/repeat customers
- Low projected growth rates
These issues are not specific enough.
Key Issues which are good!
- Retail won’t list us as they don’t consider us a serious player in the industry
- The category isn’t growing; consumers are leaving due to bad experiences
- Consumers perceive our product as lacking taste
- Lack if incremental innovation beyond 2022
- Current media approach is showing signs of weakness
These issues are more specific, explain “the why”, and are addressable through strategic action.
KEY ISSUE TAKEAWAYS
Generally, it is best to have a manageable number of specific key issues affecting your brand—ones that are keeping your brand from achieving its long-term goals. Once your key issues are identified, it makes your strategic choices clearer.
TEACH YOUR BRAND TEAM HOW TO WRITE A STRATEGIC PLAN
If you need help teaching your brand team to write a clear and compelling long-term strategy, check out our in-depth strategic plan training workshop.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.