The only valuable place your brand exists is in the mind of your customers.
Our Plan Path has nine simple steps.
let's dance
Planning Research
The idea is to discover the likes and dislikes of people who purchase and use client products. What do they like most about them? What do they like least? What's important to them when purchasing in the category, and what's not? The goal is to take our opinion out of the equation. Replace what "we think" with what actual users tell us "they know." It's easy to argue with what an agency guy is saying. It's hard to argue with what the client customer is saying.
ATTRIBUTE RANKINGSIn every survey tool, we ask respondents to attach an importance value (1= Extremely Important, 5 = Not at all Important) to a set of brand/product attributes. "Attributes" are defined as any factor (tangible or intangible) that may impact the decision to purchase (positively or negatively).

We do this to determine how each brand/product attribute might have influenced the final decision to purchase our client brand over a competitor. Across the body of responses, we net a weighted average score for each attribute. In rank order they become a listing of attributes ranging from the most influential to the purchase to the least! These then become the basis for identifying the factors of competition.
Factors of CompetitionThe top 10 to 12 ranking attributes are then reduced to five to seven factors or elements of competition. Factors of competition are the screening questions we raise, either consciously or subconsciously, when considering a purchase. These are the questions a brand choice must positively pass through before a decision to purchase is made.
Brand Vs. CompetitionNext, we explore and examine competitors' websites to learn how aggressively they are investing communication-wise in each of these factors of competition. The logic is this. If our customers are saying these are the attributes most influential to moving one to purchase our brand, it stands to reason they will be important to people when considering brands that compete with ours. We use what customers say was important in their decision to purchase our brand to fuel and develop a value proposition for the brand.
Strategy MapWe plot a curve on a grid showing how the individual competitors invest in each competition factor. The notion is to create a separation between the client brand and its competition.

This grid allows us to find an uninhabited space on the strategy map, a space we and you, our client alone, can own. It is wasteful to try out-yelling the competition; it is much better to go where they are not, making it an unfair fight, if at all possible.
Value PropositionWe develop a statement that articulates what value it is that the client brand will deliver more of and more often than any who compete for the same dollar. The value statement usually contains five sub-statements or value planks that come directly from the factors of competition. Some combination or recipe of these five statements will effectively add to or result in the decision to purchase. It is the forerunner to and basis for a messaging platform.
Brand positionWhat is this product or service, and who is it for? What is the brand about, and who do we want to buy it? We work hard in this section to get an answer to the following question, "If you could only say one thing to me about the client brand, what would it be?" The answer is a single sentence that speaks to what sets this product apart from its competition. The brand position also tells why the client brand is different and why it is relevant.
Blueprint CreativeNext, we develop a set of creative examples that define the brand's look, feel, and sound. Original creative concepts are generated for each of the several (usually five) value planks. They often look like ads, but they are not. We sometimes call them "adcepts." They're creative concepts that can be repurposed in many tactical forms ranging from web images to banners, brochures, commercials, videos, direct mail, and all sorts of things.
MediaThe emotional, call it art and copy, messaging side of the assignment is now complete. The brand's look, feel, and sound are approved and ready to be repurposed across the many platforms. Now, we look to build a media strategy and delivery plan. With a stack of digital delivery vehicles available, creative thinking is as essential here as it is in developing the creative the science before us will deliver. Our job is to create a plan unique to each brand, which will deliver the most brand growth for the budget. The delivery vehicles are there, lots of them. The question now is, what is the recipe for media ingredients that'll bring the most efficient and productive measure of growth?
PLAN PATHSo that's it—a simple explanation of the discipline we follow. We use it because it works.

The process includes nine steps, beginning with fundamental customer/user research that takes our opinion out of the discussion and leads us toward creative that sets our clients apart from their competitors--creative that lets us go where the competitors aren't; creative that helps to make it an unfair fight!


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