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  • Writer's pictureYakob Makonnen

3 Tips to Ensure Digital Doesn’t Become an After Thought During Brand Planning

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

Sticky Notes, Long Days, Muggy Conference Rooms...What comes to mind when you hear Brand Planning?

Does Digital come to mind?

Brand planning can seem like an intense process to go through. Some people get energized from it while others feel drained and exhausted. Whether you enjoy it or not, these planning sessions are a great time to get everyone in a room to identify and tackle the brand’s challenges.

Most marketers agree, tactics should come near the end of your planning, which makes total sense. You have to look at the big picture before diving into the smaller pieces. Often times, this leaves any consideration for digital marketing until the end of your planning. This is the number one reason why digital ends up as an afterthought. When digital is applied to address very specific challenges and not an overall strategy you end up with a set of siloed technical solutions - instead of integrated digital tactics.

We believe the best digital marketing plans are developed when digital is called out early in your planning sessions. Here are 3 simple ways to embed digital into your planning sessions.

1. Get your digital experts involved as early as possible (Internal or Vendor)

As a marketer, you’ve been a part of planning sessions with members from other functions like medical or regulatory. Most of the time, they end up highlighting challenges that you didn’t even know existed. They’re in the room because they see your brand and landscape from a different perspective. The same applies for your digital expert. Your digital expert (internal or vendor), sees and hears things differently than you do. They can bring to light major issues that can be addressed using a digital approach. Inviting them earlier gives them time to understand your overall challenges and strategy. They’ll use this as context when developing or recommending digital tactics.

2. Don't count out major challenges like physician access or patient disease awareness.

How many times have you seen physician access drop off the list of prioritized challenges? Just because it impacts virtually every Pharmaceutical and Biotech company, it shouldn’t get “chalked up” as the cost of doing business. Sometimes it doesn’t even get brought up and remains the elephant in the room year after year. When we treat challenges like these as “unfixable” or “out of our control”, we leave a lot of opportunity on the table. There may be a digital approach to a lot of these. By not prioritizing all the way through to your tactical stage, you don’t give your digital expert or team a chance to come up with an suitable approach.

3. Beware of sexy technology

Embedding cutting edge technologies like Virtual Reality or Artificial Intelligence in your brand plan is sure to get you attention from your peers and leadership team. Although they might get you attention initially, they might not be worth the cost or effort. Depending on which stage a technology is at, it could be very expensive and/or too advanced for your existing customers.


If you incorporate these 3 tips into your brand planning, you give your digital expert or team the best chance at helping you develop a truly multichannel marketing plan. Remember, the best digital plans are tied directly to big picture brand strategy - not a narrow set of issues or needs.

If you have any questions about how to embed digital in your marketing plans or would like to see examples of how digital became an integral part of brand planning, contact us.



Yakob Makonnen is the Chief Digital Officer for Oromo Digital Group Inc. based in Toronto. In past lives, he has studied the implementation of technology in healthcare at the University of Toronto and later lead Digital Marketing at Hoffmann-La Roche.



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