Should strategy be more agile? We think so.
Rapid market changes, disruptive business models, and growing M&A activity are all contributing to why companies small and large are making adjustments to their branding approaches. And the trend is to make these changes at increasingly rapid speed. This is putting a great deal of pressure on brands and their agencies to deliver brand strategies within extremely compressed timeframes. Does this mean we need to ditch a rigorous brand strategy processes in favor of just getting it done?
Strategy is more important than ever.
The answer is that we need strategy more than ever to provide a framework for integrating business and brand, and for providing a set of filters for shaping the brand experience. However, the world is moving faster—and some of the old models for delivering strategy are being left behind. Agencies and their clients need to consider a new approach that allows for timely turns, more collaboration across disciplines and built-in flexibility. In other words, strategy needs to become more agile.
The linear model is no longer working.
Traditionally, strategy has been used as the foundation for the activities that define a brand in the context of the competitive landscape and the consumer audience. The process of developing the strategic foundation have typically included research, analysis and recommendations. Once these recommendations are approved they become the drivers for creative execution. This linear process is time consuming, expensive and no longer aligned with the need for rapid response.
Strategy needs a new strategy.
It has become apparent that brands and their strategic branding agencies need to move faster, however we can’t move forward without considering the role of strategy in helping brands move towards success. The solution is Agile Strategy. Agile Strategy is a new approach designed to deliver strategy faster and more efficiently than ever before. Borrowing a page from the way that engineers develop hardware and software innovations in Silicon Valley, we’re pioneering an innovative iterative process to strategy development. Agile Strategy is one of the fundamental tools that are part of our Silicon Valley Thinking methodology. In this new approach, we move back and forth between “thinking” (understanding customer needs, thinking strategically) and “making” (creating and prototyping possible solutions). And this does not just happen within the agency, but also in conjunction with the client.
This new approach will require a shift in attitudes.
Our description for Agile Strategy might sound simple, but it requires considerable shifts in mindset. On the agency side, we need to check our egos at the door and create collaborative cross-disciplinary teams that truly work together. This means that strategists and planners need to understand that “thinking” without “making” is an academic exercise. And creatives need to recognize that “making” without “thinking” is an aesthetic exercise. For clients, this new approach requires that brands truly engage their agencies as strategic partners in the co-creation of the work. Agile Strategy means sharing work that may not be perfect—and the process may get a little messy along the way—but if we approach this with confidence in the idea that by collaborating we can arrive at better solutions faster, then Agile Strategy and Silicon Valley Thinking can deliver amazing results.
The old way or the new way? What do you say?
We are at a critical juncture. This is the perfect time to re-examine the role of brand strategy and the process we use to deliver. Brand strategy can either reaffirm its business value and relevance, or it can continue to slowly become a barrier to moving business forward. We believe that it’s time to evolve to a more agile way of creating strategy. What do you think? What have you been experiencing? Any ideas or suggestions you’d like to share? We would love to hear your thoughts. In the meanwhile, we have listed a few other sources of information about the new direction in which strategy is heading. There are some interesting ideas and viewpoints expressed in these articles, so—if you are interested in how the strategic approach can be re-envisioned to address today’s fast paced market challenges—we definitely encourage you to take a peek.