Plan Element #2: Creating an Overarching Strategy, Brand, and Market Position
StrategyThrough strategic communications, an organization tightly focuses its communications activities on achieving its goals. A group that communicates strategically takes into account:
A strategically sound communications plan therefore recognizes the department, program, or project’s pressing and horizon issues, its capacity to implement specific communication ideas, and how it can “work smarter, not harder.” A group that doesn’t take a strategic approach is at risk of falling into common traps:
The overarching strategy identifies the main communications activities that will be deployed, communication vehicles, key players, and some form of timeline. The strategy is not etched in stone and should lend itself to be revised as necessary.
Some sample overarching strategies are:
The BrandStrategy is strongly linked to an often misunderstood concept, branding. Branding is about meaning: what does the name of the department, program, or project mean to key audiences? Some firms, organizations, and prominent individuals enjoy very positive brand identification, while others suffer from negative brand identification. If you think about it, you will come up with examples on both sides.
To illustrate, generally positive brand identities belong to Google, which is associated with technological innovation, integrity, reliability, and user-friendliness, and the U.S. Marine Corps, associated with courage, patriotism, strong individuals, and effectiveness. Similarly, the Red Cross is associated with volunteerism, readiness, impartiality, and competence.
In recent years, entities of all kinds have worked hard to create a solid brand. The brand becomes part-and-parcel of everything the entity does. It enhances visibility, which contributes to influence, helping the entity achieve its goals.
NACCHO is developing a brand identity for LHDs nationwide. This effort is needed, because local public health in the United States has long been overlooked, taken for granted, and misunderstood. Individual LHDs can make use of NACCHO’s work. See http://www.naccho.org/advocacy/marketing/nationalidentity/index.cfm.
Not only LHDs but also specific local health projects, or coalitions, can benefit from a positive brand.
Tip: Organize an Event
Events garner publicity, solidify your team, and reinforce your brand—for example, a local summit, media conference, or workshop on blood pressure awareness could help establish a group’s identity as the “blood pressure experts.”
Market PositionWhile a brand is absolute, market position is relative: It differentiates one entity from potential competitors. To develop a market position, a group should:
The main challenge in developing a market position is to figure out how to maximize your position. Examples of techniques for improving market position include:
Conduct this type of strategic exercise—developing ways to improve market position—from time to time, to stay ahead of the competition.
Subliminal MarketingOn the other hand, to avoid spending a lot of time and scarce resources on branding and market position, here’s a shortcut also known as subliminal marketing.
As a group, decide on one to three attributes to include in all communications. Examples of attributes include, but are not limited to, passion, consistency, science, quality, hope, babies, pain-free, wise decisions, wellness, confidence, family, disease prevention, and partnership. These one to three attributes should be mentioned in one way or another in all news releases, interviews, testimony, brochures, announcements, website updates, and other formal communications. This approach will convey a sense of what the organization, program, or project is about.