Tactical vs. Strategic Messaging

“Strategic” is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot in business. This is because it’s understood that to be “strategic” is an intrinsic good. Which makes sense, and is probably true. It’s easy to see how being strategic is better than the alternative.

Too often, though, what it actually means to be strategic, or to have a strategy, gets lost.

This breakdown generally occurs at the intersection of strategy and tactics. Because as much as these things get talked about, they are often difficult concepts to grasp.

When we develop brand messaging for our clients, we often find ourselves discussing the difference between strategic and tactical. Having a firm grasp on what separates the two, and how they work together, helps maintain brand consistency and alleviates the headaches that can often arrive during execution.

Strategic Messaging

Strategic messaging is one of our first deliverables on all large-scale (and many smaller scale) brand projects. The reason we start there is simple: the strategic components are the “why?” and “how?” components.

Strategic messaging sets the tone. It’s about articulating the fundamentals and bringing voice to the vision and purpose. It then provides a roadmap by which the vision will be achieved.

This step can often feel skippable because strategy does not always in itself feel like action. Nothing could be more inaccurate. Without strategic messaging, there is no way to understand, organize, or, ultimately, measure the tactical execution.

Which leads us to…

Tactical Messaging

Where strategic messaging expresses the “why?” and “how?”, tactical messaging expresses the “what?” and “where?”

If you think of it this way, you can start to see a logical rhythm and flow to how a core purpose animates a plan, and how specific actions then come into play to execute the plan.

Which is another way of saying that tactics follow strategy.

There’s more to it, of course, especially when dealing with on-the-ground realities. Entire books have been written on strategy and tactics because, to this day, it’s an evolving field of thinking. On a basic level, though, it’s not so complicated. By putting strategy first, and getting buy-in from all involved parties, you set yourself on a more effective path towards executing your plan and achieving your goal. Whatever tactics you use to do it.