Marketing Plots: The ends/means fallacy. Bare assertion and the world’s most common strategic error.

I have named my pain. At least one frequently reoccurring pain. It’s time I’ve put it in writing.
Here is the world’s most common strategic planning error. It is simply this:

Confusing a goal with a strategy.

One can call it an error, but the error, if to be honest, is seeing strategy where there is none.
In the philosophical study of logic, there is a logical flaw called "The bare assertion fallacy". This is the fallacy behind playground sentences like "I am right because I am.". The end/means fallacy works in a similar way.

It is obviously clear to the reader, that the sentence "I will become rich by making a lot of money."  does not cut it as a strategy for becoming rich, yet so many so-called strategies I comes across, especially brand strategies, and specifically "strategic" creative briefs, will have elements of Bare Assertion naively woven into them.

You wouldn’t expect big corporates to fall into such a simple logical pit, but here are some examples of bare assertion coming out of the woodwork, or at least telling sympthoms:

"to become the world’s top/best/ best known/most loved/leader…".
Mission/Vision/Positioning statements that are completely wishful thinking:  Don’t get me wrong, having a goal is important, but having an ambition does not solve the question of how to achieve said ambition. And I’m sorry, even if you’re one of the gullible many who believe in "the law of attraction", we cannot develop creative according to that.

"This brand will be cool, young, fun and fashionable. "
Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but if we want to have a strategy to make that happen, then no number of result-orientated aspirations, masquerading as brand values, drivers or attributes, will tell us what makes a brand all those things.

"Our strategy is to become customer centric / human touch champions / design driven / insight driven."
As opposed to all the brands out there who try to achieve the opposite?

"This is about encouraging brand love and speaking with an authentic voice."
"Love marks", is nothing more than branding rebranded, "be yourself" is useful only if you know yourself.

"Our goal in this project is to redefine the brand and maximise value to increase return on investment."
In other words, we want to succeed and get our money’s worth. Thanks for that valuable insight.

Building a brand is a long, trying, quest. Dreaming of the grail feels nice, and, yes, it might be useful to remember why we’re on the road in the first place, but seeing only the grail instead of keeping our senses open to the road  – that’s deadly. We have promises to keep.

Don’t be confused by the lack of insight in the examples to think that’s the solution. Insights alone do not make a strategy either, but that’s another story.

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