Strategy--chest-1
stratigicwhite

Strategy

It all starts here.

Highlands has a proven track record of working collaboratively with the world’s best brands. Together, we create, develop, and implement strategic plans that are actioned quickly and cost effectively. Working alongside your leadership team, we will maximize the short and long term success of your brand. And, because we actually help deliver the strategic plan, we make sure it’s something that really works - in the real world.
Articles
Aligning-for-growth

Aligning for Growth

June 12, 2017

Sometimes market conditions change, sometimes you have to change the market conditions.  Regardless of which form of market transformation you face, successful navigation through choppy waters requires alignment.  That’s a broad term, so what do I mean by ‘alignment.’

In one sense, alignment is a go-to-market term.  Alignment of tactics and message across all touch points.  Making sure your point-of-sale programs are aligned with your online efforts.  Making sure your email campaign syncs up with your Groupon programs.  Making sure price points and product assortments are optimized across all platforms.  Tactical alignment is critical, but that can fall apart if there is not alignment of mindset.

Mindset alignment means those developing the strategy and isolating the opportunity fully grasp the reality.  It also means those on the front line (sales) can accurately explain the needs of the market.  The more you align mindset, the better the chances for success.  Those that are truly aligned and share the same vision can adjust to unforeseen situations with near flawless clairvoyance.

In business, going against a large player with a traditional approach is a recipe for disaster.  You’re walking right into their trap as they are massive and built their success on size and scale.  That doesn’t mean they cannot be beat!  To win, you must commit to a changed approach and align to it.  

In our experience, smaller players have a real opportunity as their business model is not predicated on massive in-store traffic.  Buyers have not stopped buying.  On the contrary, they’re buying more than ever.  It’s just that they’ve changed their buying patterns to include a healthy dose of online.  The mega retailers are too committed to their historic approach to adjust.  Much like an aircraft carrier; it takes a long time to turn.

Speaking of naval history, the Battle of Trafalgar is a great example of aligning to a new strategy against a much larger opponent.  That battle pitted an outnumbered British fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson against the combined French and Spanish armada.  Rather than line up and blast away at each other (where success always went to the larger fleet during this battle of attrition), Lord Nelson saw an opportunity to change market conditions.  He explained his plan to his supporting captains, who then implemented the tactics that forever changed naval warfare.  

Lord Nelson split his battle ships into two parallel lines and T-boned their opponents in two spots, breaking their ranks and leaving them open to their soft spots.  In the end, Lord Nelson sunk or captured 19 enemy ships and lost none and over 13,000 enemy sailors were killed or injured compared to 1,500 for the Royal Navy.  This battle forever sealed Britain’s naval superiority and protected the homeland from imminent invasion from Napoleon.

Sometimes conditions change.  Sometimes you have to change the conditions.  To win in either scenario, alignment of mindset is the first condition that must change.

Bob_Ogara
Bob O"Gara
CEO 
Highlands

Flight Kit 2

Who cares about the English language?

February 26, 2017


Language is important.  My business partners Bob O’Gara and Shannon Blake must get bored when I keep harping on about this.  But, it is, and they agree…really.


As an example, we recently rebranded from The Highlands Group to Highlands.  OK, not a radical name change however there were various reasons for this, one of which was that Bob really disliked the company being referred to as THG.


Easy, kill the “The” and kill the “Group”.  THG becomes Highlands.  Boom!  Well it’s not that simple because despite Bob’s dislike of “THG” it had become endemic both inside and outside the business.  Sure we could tolerate (with a pinched smile) clients calling us THG but we must be able to get it right internally.  Slowly but surely we are weeding out and changing all those documents lurking in the deepest recesses of SharePoint and we’re truly becoming Highlands.


Once again my daughter inspired me to write about this topic.  For my recent flight from London to Chicago my Flight Kit included a book called F****** Apostrophes by Simon Griffin, a copywriter from Leeds in England.  It’s a witty and informative rant about the correct use of apostrophes.


Those who know me well will fondly remember those fun and invigorating conversations about the correct use of grammar and punctuation.  Particularly rich from a Danish born Australian who went to a middling comprehensive school in the suburbs of Perth.


Simon says, “The single most important rule of any punctuation is to help the reader understand what it is you’re going to say.”  Too bloody right.  As Lynn Truss says in her 2003 book there is a big difference between “Eats shoots and leaves” and “Eats, shoots and leaves”.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not linguistic expert, perhaps just a bit of a smart-arse pedant, however if you want people to understand your message is it not unreasonable to spend the time to try and articulate it properly? You never know, if you take that time people might actually understand what it is you’re trying to say.


That’s why all the best organizations take care to get their communications right.  Governments, charities, businesses, media companies all employ highly qualified people to help get it right.  Sure, nothing works all the time and sometimes so much care is taken not to offend that a message can become too bland and lose its meaning.  That’s not a reason to shortcut the process.


Well-articulated messaging is only part of the journey.  What we say has to be backed up.  A friend called any brand “A promise, delivered”. I really like. As an example, with the Highlands’ brand refresh we stated that our number one determinant in the recruitment and retention of staff would be cultural fit.  We have articulated this well into the business, now we have to deliver against that promise.


Reading Simon’s book and thinking about this topic has reminded me that we need to continually reassure clients that as we create their brand’s communication strategy we will take every care to ensure their “voice” is communicated clearly.   Whether it’s a website, a corporate brochure, a product flyer, advert or a promotional piece we will ensure their voice has clarity, is effective and resonates with the target audience.


And we’ll do that by putting the apostrophes, commas, parentheses, semicolons and colons in the right place.


If it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.

 

Gordon Christiansen