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Smart project leaders know that doing a job well isn’t enough. As a project leader, you have to sell the project to internal audiences to get it funded, to rally teams, to create visibility and engagement.
Figuring out just the right ways and just the right time to communicate core messages means adapting the principles of traditional brand management to the planning, development, launch and delivery of project initiatives: figuring out the project’s unique value proposition and expressing it in a way that creates something akin to actual brand loyalty among key audiences.
How to do it? Check out this “5P framework” chart for a typical project branding sequence: Pitch, Plan, Platform, Performance and Payoff:
The chart comes from Karen A. Brown, Richard Ettenson and Nancy Lea Hyer’s popular story in the Summer 2011 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, “Why Every Project Needs a Brand (and How to Create One).”
“With an understanding of the five branding phases, the project leader will be in a strong position to assess the roles and motivations of specific target audiences and offer a compelling set of relevant benefits to each,” the authors write. “Project-specific benefits will include functional elements (e.g., an improved process that better serves customers) as well as emotional elements (e.g., personal satisfaction derived from working as part of a cohesive and energetic project team) that stakeholders can expect to receive if they support a project or participate in its delivery.”
Authors Brown and Ettenson are both at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona. Hyer is at Vanderbilt. Brown and Hyer are coauthors of Managing Projects: A Team-Based Approach (McGraw-Hill, 2009). (See their website, teambasedapproach.com.)
Here, Brown talks about how skills like being able to brand a project make for better leaders: