The thing about planning is that every agency and some invidusals have their own process or schtick that's the answer to all the world's ills. That's great for creds and selling to clients but pretty useless to anyone trying to learn on the job because, to be honest, their is far more than one way of going about it.
All that matters is what works for you and whatever you happen to working on. If the outcomes is great, who cares how you got there?
In that spirit, I firmly believe that cultural strategy matters more now than ever, but that doesn't mean that the approach in the Account Planning School of the Web is the only way. If you haven't read Heather Lefevre's presentation on starting a cultural movement, you should. It's insanely helpful.
One thing to bare in mind in both cases though.
Great communications ideas tend to relieve tension in culture, they address real problems in people's lives. This matters of course, it gets you somewhere good since the real long term value of advertising in all its forms is to build distinctiveness and create strong and deep memory structures. In other words, it needs to make the brand stand out in a very cluttered world.
But that's only half the story. In the short to medium term, their should always be a 'hard' objective to solve. The IPA databank shows that campaigns that work to hard targets are far more successful than those with 'soft targets' like brand consideration, salience or, God forbid, awareness.
Therefore, whatever your doing, make sure you have a clear business issue and tightly defined communications task that will solve it first.
BUSINESS CHALLENGE Grow penetration by encouraging more people to consciously switch from buying standard fresh milk to Cravendale.
CREATIVE CHALLENGE Jolt people out of their milk-buying inertia. Create love and fame for the brand that gets people talking, buying and believing Cravendale’s milk is superior.
BUSINESS CHALLENGE IKEA can drive 24% increases in kitchen-related visitation by improving
awareness of IKEA kitchens by 10%. We hace to first make IKEA kitchens famous to get them to be considered
CREATIVE CHALLENGE The kitchen is the room, outside of the bedroom, where we spend the most time - it's the heart of the home.A common belief is that you always end up in the kitchen at parties. We need to dramatise this is the most culturally sticky way we can
(both taken from the respective APG case studies)