Understand your business situation before making your next move



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A smart brand strategy is a smart business strategy. Before moving towards a plan, you must understand the business situation you face. In this article, I will outline four distinct business situations your brand could face: Fuel the momentum, Fix it, Realignment, and a Start-up. 

You are running a live business, with a need to drive sales, manage costs, and produce profits. Importantly, you should do a deep-dive business review to understand what’s going on. Moreover, you need to understand your profit situation

Business Situation Smart Strategic Thinking on Brand Strategy

Apply the right strategy and leadership to the right business situation you face

When business results are healthy, fuel your momentum by staying on course and attacking small weaknesses. If things are going well, everyone within your organization will resist a change plan. This is a keep the momentum going business situation. 

When the external results are abysmal, your management team will look for opportunities to turn around those results quickly. They will be impatient. Manage the short-term and long-term fix it plans at the same time. We’ll show how to manage a fix it business situation.

When different silos operate entirely autonomously within your organization, it causes unnecessary conflict and confusion that holds your brand back from maximizing its full potential. We call this the realignment business situation.

Build a realignment plan to get everyone moving in the same direction. Whether you are in an entrepreneurial start-up or entering into a new business from within a corporation, follow the plan for a start-up business situation.

Fuel the momentum

Many marketers are notorious for wanting to make their mark. When they come into a brand situation, they see a long list of flaws left by the previous leader. They think it is time to do things right and change the way everyone operates. However, if you put a change plan in place when everything is going well, you will face significant resistance. 

When brands have a strong market share position, steady sales growth, strong profitability, strong underlying brand health measures, and they align the team on the direction for the future, the brand leader should keep the momentum going. It is harder than you think.

Your role as the leader should be to continue to fuel the growth drivers while resisting the temptation to make wholesale changes. Importantly, use the time to learn the success factors while looking at future scenarios that could threaten the current momentum. 

You can attack what you see as smaller weaknesses and gaps that you feel will add to the overall growth rate. Use a motivational leadership style that keeps everyone inspired, aligned, and focused.

Business Situation Fuel the momentum

To illustrate, click on the situational plan to zoom in.

Fix it

When a brand faces poor external results with a decline in sales, shrinking market share, and lower profit margins due to lower prices or rising costs, the brand leader needs to create a turnaround plan that will fix it. From my experience, you will need both a short-term and long-term fix. The quick fix helps address the hemorrhaging results that are impacting the bottom line of the company. 

However, most fix it business situations have a more in-depth cause, hidden beneath the surface level. You will need a change management leadership style that challenges everyone and everything. And, you will need a new plan, which includes a new vision filled with new ideas. Explore the need for different people to join the team. Losing can be contagious to the culture of a team. Clearly, you will need to create a new attitude.

The quick fix can buy you time with management to implement what you see as the longer-term fix it plan. Any immediate wins also give the team a much-needed boost of motivation. 

Dig deep into a full business review to understand the underlying causes happening in the market. Evaluate changing consumers needs, new competitors, changes in the retail landscape, and changes in technology. Close leaks using a brand funnel analysis. Go through every investment decision. Cut all spending that fails to drive results and reinvest in the new plan. Invest only in programs that give you an early breakthrough win and payback. Once you have the plan in place, make sure you have the right talent in place to make it happen. 

The quick fix plan

  • First, find early, and obvious potential wins to stop the hemorrhaging.
  • Then, emphasize results to fuel a performance-driven culture. 
  • Next, use all early wins to boost team motivation.
  • Celebrate every victory, big or small.  
  • Finally, eliminate wasteful spend, low margin or resource draining projects. 

The long-term fix

  • Importantly, conduct a deep-dive business review of the market, consumers, competitors, channels, and the brand. Focus on the top three issues emerging from the review.
  • Invest in a new marketing plan with a brand idea supported by a unique brand positioning. 
  • Make focused investment decisions, and take smart risks to fix the brand communication, product innovation, purchase moment, and the consumer experience. 
Business Situation Fix It

To illustrate, click on the situational plan to zoom in.

Take your brand knowledge to new heights with our Beloved Brands playbook

Beloved Brands is a comprehensive guide that covers the fundamentals of brand management. It goes deep on strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plan development, advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and the brand financials. This is an opportunity to build your marketing skills to help your career. And, it will provide you with the roadmap for driving growth on your brand. 

Beloved Brands book for marketers

Marketers see Beloved Brands playbook as a go-to resource, as they keep it within arm’s reach for any new project. We are thrilled to see that it has received a 5-star rating from nearly 90% of Amazon reviewers. Additionally, we have also created playbooks for B2B Brands and Healthcare Brands, catering to specific industries.


A brand itself needs a consistent delivery of the brand promise. Issues arise when the brand promise shows up inconsistently across the advertising, in-store, new products, the overall consumer experience. It creates a confused and cluttered mess in the marketplace. You do not want the team behind the scenes of the brand moving in different directions.

When different functions operate in silos, you see the marketing and sales team each delivering their distinct brand messages, and the product development team invents products in a lab without any direction from brand or input from consumers. The consumer experience team lacks cohesion and consistency, and consumers begin to notice a confused brand.

When I consult on a situation that looks splintered, I ask various leaders to describe the brand in seven seconds. The answers I get suggest a confused team. I hear:

  • It depends on who you ask.
  • Or, It’s complicated.
  • Actually, I’ve never thought about it.
  • I can’t.

In business situations like this, bring an energetic and focused leadership style to keep the team aligned. Use a highly participative leadership style to bring everyone together, to listen to all points of view and unite the team under a shared plan. 

Get everyone aligned by building a marketing plan

Everyone on the team must move in the same direction to the same marketing plan. A high-functioning team must agree on the following: 

Each functional team should then complete their plan to ensure it aligns with the overall brand plan. Clearly, the team needs clear marching orders, firm decisions, goals, budgets, and timelines. 

Business Situation Realignment

To illustrate, click on the situational plan to zoom in.

Startup Plan

Start-up business situations are either about the launch of a new brand in the market or the launch of a current brand in a new category. At this stage, you move quickly from blank slate to a new brand idea, a new brand plan, and a new team. 

The first mistake many start-ups make is believing a product alone is good enough. Even at the start-up stage, you need a brand idea to help organize everything. Consumers are more likely to buy into an idea than a product. 

The second mistake is to sell to anyone and even adjust your product or service to fit every different type of consumer who wants to buy. While you might feel desperate for revenue early on, you need to stay focused on your target and brand positioning. The goal for your brand is to build a reputation you can own. Importantly, if you try to be everything to anyone, you will end up as nothing to everyone.

Build a “blowfish” brand plan. 

A blowfish can make itself appear bigger than it is.

The idea of a blowfish brand plan is to make focused decisions and investments, so the brand appears bigger than it is, especially to those consumers or influencers who matter the most. 

For instance, when you focus and invest in a tight target market, those consumers will begin to think the brand is bigger than it is. On the other hand, resist the temptation of going after a broad target market too early, or you will stretch your dollars so thin no one will even notice you. Go after a niche consumer benefit, so your brand can eventually own a trusted reputation in narrow competitive space. 

Resist the temptation to try to be everywhere at once, as it spreads your resources so thin you will have a small presence anywhere. When you focus, your brand can start to dominate a focused distribution channel or media channel. 


Build the right team that fits the people to the strategy, not the strategy to the people. Build out the team’s capabilities by acquiring the skills, behaviors, relationships, and capacity to fit the needs of the brand plan and execution. As start-up brands are continually learning, keep in mind that it is okay to maneuver and adjust your strategies – but do not change your overall vision.  

To illustrate, click on the situational strategy to zoom in.

To illustrate, click on the situational strategy to zoom in.

Strategic Thinking

Smart strategic thinkers ask challenging questions.

To start, take the opportunity to improve your strategic thinking skills. Look to the five steps to building an effective brand strategy

We show how to use our Strategic ThinkBox, and lay out the five elements of strategic thinking. Next, go deeper on to challenge your brand’s core strength, engage with consumer strategy, or competitive strategy

Undoubtedly, you must understand the business situation before making your next move. We show how to write the ideal strategy statements you can use in your marketing plan

Video Lesson: Key Issues

To illustrate, watch our video on how to find the key issues on your brand that you can use in your marketing plan. Importantly, it helps you find the best possible questions. Subsequently, it sets up strategic solutions to answer those questions.

Play Video about Strategic Key Issues Video

To view, use the ▶️ controls to play our brand strategy video. 

Staying on strategy through execution.

As you move to the marketing execution, you need to use in-the-box creativity to stay on strategy. We map out the advertising process, and the innovation process. Take a look at  our Creative Brief and the good and bad creative brief examples. Then, we set you up to make marketing execution decisions using our advertising checklist to evaluate creative advertising ideas. And, you can use our innovation checklist to compare new product ideas.

Importantly, marketers need to understand media planningpricing strategy, and social media strategy

Our brand templates make it easier for you to do your job.

Moreover, we provide brand templates that help you run your brand. For instance, you can find templates for marketing plans, brand positioning, creative briefs, and business reviews. Altogether, we offer brand toolkits with all the presentation slides you need. 

Marketing Careers

On a classic marketing team, there are four key levels:

  • Assistant Brand Manager.
  • Brand Manager.
  • Marketing Director or Group Marketing Director.
  • VP Marketing or CMO.

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway. 

In simple terms, the Assistant Brand Manager role is about doing, analyzing and sending signals you have leadership skills for the future.

At the Brand Manager level, it becomes about ownership and strategic thinking within your brand plan. Most Brand Managers are honestly a disaster with their first direct report, and get better around the fifth report.

When you get to the Marketing Director role, it becomes more about managing and leading than it does about thinking and doing. To be great, you need to motivate the greatness from your team and let your best players to do their absolute best.

And finally, at the CMO level, you must create your own vision, focus on your people to make them better and shine, drive the business results, and run the processes.

Our Beloved Brands Marketing Training program will make your team smarter.

If you are running a marketing team, you will always benefit from having a smarter team. When you invest in our marketing training program, you will help your team gain the marketing skills they need to succeed. As a result, you will see them make smarter decisions and produce exceptional work that drives business growth.

We’ll work with your team to help them learn more about the five core marketing skills: Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. Most importantly, your marketers will learn new tools, concepts, and ideas to trigger new thinking. To help their skills, we get participants to take each tool on a test run. Then, we give feedback for them to keep improving. 

To illustrate, click to zoom in on the brand management career pathway. 

Strategic Thinking:

Our marketing training teaches brand leaders how to ask tough strategic questions to slow everyone down and engage in debate of options to move forward. To start, you will be given various tools to approach strategy in a thoughtful, analytical way. Importantly, marketers need learn how to change brain speeds to move from a strategic thinker style to uncover what is holding back a brand, and onto an instinctual thinker style on marketing execution. 

We introduce our Strategic ThinkBox that allows marketers to interrogate their brand. Importantly, our ThinkBox pushes you to take a holistic look at the brand’s core strength, competitive landscape, tightness of the consumer bond, and business situation.

Brand Positioning:

Our brand positioning process teaches how to decide on the target market, consumer benefits, and reasons to believe. To start, you will learn to define the ideal consumer and frame the definition with their biggest needs, consumer insights and their enemy. Then, we provide our benefit cheatsheets to help learn how to discover the functional benefits and emotional benefits that a brand can deliver. Importantly, marketers need to make a decision on trying to stake out a unique space that is motivating to consumers, and ownable for the brand. 

Learn to use our brand idea tool and see how it helps to communicate the brand idea to everyone across the organization. Finally, marketers will learn how to take the brand positioning work and translate it into a brand concept, brand story, and a brand credo.

Marketing Plans:

We see the marketing plan is a decision-making tool on how a brand will spend their limited resources. Moreover, the marketing plan communicates the expectations to everyone who works on the brand. Importantly, we teach marketers how to put together the vision, purpose, goals, key issues, strategies and marketing execution plans

Learn how to write key issue questions and strategic statements that forms the foundation of the marketing plan. In addition, our marketing training provides various marketing planning templates including our one-page brand plan and ideal Marketing Plan presentation deck

Marketing Execution:

Our marketing execution training starts with the concept of our Marketing PlayBox that matches up to the Strategic ThinkBox. To keep marketers on strategy throughout the execution stages, our Marketing PlayBox helps find in-the-box ideas that meet four dimensions: they are focused on our target, fit with the brand, deliver the message, and execute the strategy. 

To start, we show how the creative brief sets up the PlayBox, serving as the bridge between the plan and execution. We go through the creative brief line-by line  and give you examples of the best and worst. Importantly, you will learn to use our Creative Checklist to help make smarter decisions on creative communications. We workshop how to give feedback to your agency based on gaps you see with the checklist. 

Learn to make media decisions that match up to your consumer’s purchase journey. In addition, we provide a similar Innovation Checklist to compare innovation ideas. 

Brand Analytics:

Our comprehensive brand analytics training teach brand leaders how to lead a deep-dive business review. We outline the best analytical thinking so you can become a well-rounded marketer. 

Learn to look at the marketplace, consumer analytics, channels of distribution, competitors or other brands in their industry. And, learn assess the brand itself. Importantly, you will learn how marketing funnels can help assess the brand’s performance. We provide 64 analytical questions that marketers can ask of their brand. Finally, we show how to understand the financial performance indicators of the brand.

Our training looks at three specific streams; Consumer Marketing Training, B2B Marketing Training, and Healthcare Marketing Training. With each program, all the of the examples are tailored to the type of marketer. Undoubtedly, we believe marketers will be at their best when the can see the concepts or tools working on their type of brand.

Take a look at our Marketing Skills assessment tool to see how you or your marketing team measure up.

For more information on our Beloved Brands Marketing Training programs, click below or email Graham Robertson at [email protected]

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