Key Differences Between Account Planner & Strategist That Are Worth Noting

Whilst strategists and account planners have separate roles, there exist confusions between these master-thinkers that will tell you what to do – and those tactical beings that will tell you how to do it.
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What is the difference between an account planner and a strategist? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

From my understanding (and at my agency) there are two very distinctive roles played by the Planner and the Strategist. Watch out – my metaphors are going to be a bit sloppy.

The Planner 

The Planner does a lot of what the role describes: determining the positioning of the brand in the market, looking at culture and how that influences the brand, and performing a lot of the research that help develop insights. To me, this is like a General – he sees and analyzes all of the overall troop movements and then makes the orders to deploy. The planner is very much the one with the 20,000-foot view, scoping out where we should move next.

The Strategist

The Strategist is then in charge of taking this overall brand promise, initiative, etc and effectively spreading that across campaigns. When developing briefs for individual campaigns (from Community Relations, to Superbowl Spots) their job is to distill the research make recommendations and develop unique insights ensuring that concepts and campaigns ladder up to this master strategy.

To give an example from a certain soda brand, the Brand Planners worked for several months to establish the unique viewpoint of the brand, which would be to stand for “One of a Kindness”. Now, the role of the Strategist (or Digital Strategist) would be to make sure that at every touchpoint from the Television Campaign, to the content generated online, to product partnerships – that each and every one of these touchpoints ladders up to that brand strategy of “One of a Kindness”. Makes sense?

Planners develop the “master plan” and Strategists make sure we execute effectively within that.

Now, there’s no doubt that Planners and Strategists can and should work in tandem on certain projects, but one is definitely a lot more in the weeds than the other. And that can certainly change from agency to agency.

Contributed by Rachel MercerProduct Designer + Strategist at full-service agencies.

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