What's in a brand?
Brands are a lot like people. They have personalities. They generally do things that are expected. The things they do out of character create the most unwanted attention. Just like the most interesting people, the best brands have a rich backstory.
Your brand is essentially the story you share and in turn how that story is perceived by others. This makes it all the more important to have your story straight and delivered consistently at every turn.
The application of your brand; from your logo, to your website and social media is your branding. A well considered brand definition should be the starting point for all of your branding. In fact, it’s often the start of a logo design, redesign of a website, or other communications initiative when the questions about an overarching brand surface.
Whether you’re a fresh start-up working to build an audience, a seasoned organization retooling to energize your base, or somewhere in between, you’ll still need to tackle the same questions and get to your own unique answers.
The questions that define your brand.
The questions that inform your story ultimately define your brand. Purpose, Mission and Vision are at the root of any strong brand though they aren’t always front and center. Think of your friends and how you’ve gotten to know them. You might have immediately recognized that someone was driven. Then several conversations later you learned of the inner purpose that is fueling their passion.
Here’s a closer look at the big three that form the foundation of your brand along with follow-up questions that dig deeper:
• Why do you do what you do?
• How well-aligned is the rest of your organization around this purpose?
• What do you do to deliver against this purpose?
• What else could you be doing to deliver against this purpose?
• What impact will you have on the world in one year? In two years?
• What outside forces can you influence to further your mission?
The next series of questions establish your personality–the tone in which you interact with others. Be true to yourself about what traits set you apart as well as what might stand out the most to others. Not all traits need to be apparent at all times and it’s natural for your tone to shift based on the situation.
• What personality traits should be reflected in all of the work that you do?
• Which traits are truly unique to you?
• Who do you need to reach in order to deliver on your mission?
• Do you see that changing over time?
• Who do you regularly compete against?
• Who do you aspire to compete against?
The answers that set your brand apart.
The questions are deceptively straightforward. Getting to the answers that elevate you is the hard part. If it’s just you, the questions are sure to generate a bit of soul searching. If you’re working with a larger team, you’re likely struggling to determine who best to include in a group conversation and how to get everyone on the same page.
With everything taken into account, a completed version of the following should become your guidepost.
A brand workshop is the critical first step to answering your brand questions, formalizing your backstory and getting to this differentiation statement. Workshops can take many forms–from coffee and a sounding board for a sole proprietor to leadership retreats that provide space for the team to develop a shared vision, align on the mission and clarify any assumptions.
Regardless of the situation reach out and let’s navigate your brand story together. We’ll know we’re on the right track when everyone agrees on what sets you apart and we have a concise guidepost.