Building your roadmap to the future

A brand is the reputation you want to earn. It’s about what you say—but even more importantly, it’s about what you do. It’s the experience others have with you. And how you bring your brand to life is critically important.

Which brings us to the strategic roadmap. This is your plan that bridges today with tomorrow in order to determine the things you can credibly say and do to support the promise you’re making to the marketplace. Using brand research as your guide, you can chart the things you need to keep doing, start doing, and stop doing to support your ideal brand positioning.

For example, your research should have told you what’s most important to your customers and key audiences. What do you perform well on that’s important to your customers and what things are you already doing to demonstrate that? These are activities you probably want to keep doing—and you’ll want to ensure you’re also doing them consistently across the organization.

In addition, research also should have told you what things are important to customers that you’re not doing (or not getting credit for) today. This should help you create new initiatives that will uphold your brand and resonate with your key audiences.

When creating “start doing” activities, you’re likely to come up with more ideas that can feasibly be done–almost every organization has limited resources. That’s why it’s important to prioritize a short-, medium- and long-term roadmap of initiatives that use the least amount of resources to get the greatest impact. Make sure you also define what short-, medium- and long-term mean and also describe affordable, mid-range, and significant investments in concrete dollar terms.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is determine what to stop doing. But by ceasing certain activities, you’ll free up resources for the “start-doing” category. Again, research can help you determine the things you thought were important to customers and key audiences that simply aren’t. Then you can recast some of the dollars spent on these activities to the things that will make the most strategic sense for your brand moving forward.

Finally, when you create your strategic roadmap, remember that you’ll want it to support your brand pillars. You’ll also want to consider any industry perceptions and/or brand barriers that need addressing too. And when creating ideas, don’t hold back. Be bold. Think about everything from championing legislation to empowering team members.

Once completed, a strategic roadmap is a plan that will allow you to live the brand for the long term.

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