Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Penny Norman, Planning Director, Pound & Grain. Pound & Grain was founded with a belief that great digital needs two things; big strategic thinking (the pound) and pixel perfect execution (the grain). I joined the team as their lead planner three years ago and love how strategically we get to help brands with such diverse challenges from creating digital products and redefining brands through to SEO and nurture email strategies.

I am located in Vancouver and I joined the APG board as I saw a need to make strategy more accessible to all those working in communications, from brands to agencies. I believe a wider knowledge of great strategy can only make our industry more relevant and helpful to audiences.

What first attracted you to Planning?
For me, it came down to simplification. I couldn’t bear it when people over complicated and over talked issues. I love cutting through the clutter to find a simple new solution to a problem.

What advice do you have for people wanting to become a Planner

Start writing down your ideas. As an Account Manager I would sit in meetings and write down ideas of how I would solve a brief or business problem. To start with these were never shared but very often the strategist would end up in the same place. This gave me the confidence to start sharing my ideas, which got me writing decks and the rest is history.

For those not in the industry, start writing your ideas in a blog, it will help solidify your thinking and when you meet with people it will give you something to chat about and share later – “I have been thinking about this trend and would love your thoughts on it…” is a great opening conversation!

How do you explain Planning – and what you do – to new clients or to your parents?
I make sure people, users or audiences are central to everything we create and the decisions we make for a brand. Ultimately ensuring we are relevant and motivating. This can be everything from how we structure the IA of a website to follow a decision-making process, to how we embed behavior change within a campaign.
What Planning term/phrase is most over-used and misunderstood in your opinion?
“Insight”: Sure every once and a while there is an amazing insight that a brand does a great job at delivering and has a huge impact. But far more often the word “Insight” is wrongly applied, and instead you have a lazy truth that adds no value. “Busy mothers like ‘me’ time” is technically true but this adds nothing new to the conversation. Far better would be “Busy mums hide in the toilet to check their Facebook” now I have a real truth and a real picture of the lengths a mum might go to, to keep her sanity and connect with their network.

About PennyNorman

Penelope Johnson has written 1 post in this blog.

I'm a digital brand strategist at Pound & Grain out in Vancouver, BC. I'm passionate about making emotional digital spaces that are useful for people. I love playing around with data and studying human behavior and mindset. Previously I worked in traditional advertising agencies in London (AMV BBDO & Publicis) before moving over to focus on digital at Dare Vancouver and now Pound & Grain. I spend my spare time encouraging my toddler daughter to not eat something inappropriate and being outside.