Why does your company exist?
There are many, many answers to this question. Some people start their companies to give back to the world in a way they didn’t see existing. Others start their companies to give back to their wallets. Neither is wrong, just a different motivation for you getting up every day to do what you do.
I ask because if you don’t get really clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing – the drive that gets you going everyday, what you want your company to do, and how you want others to perceive you – it’s really difficult to build a brand that resonates with your audience.
As a company you want to build a brand that compels your market to take action and drive revenue to your business.
If we get textbook about it, a strong brand can help your company create long-term customers, solidify financial success and create a sustainable competitive advantage.
But what does that look like in practice? How do you make your brand strong and make your audience pay attention? You make it stand for something and make your audience feel something when they get to know your brand well. Most importantly, you create a brand that simplifies choice by differentiating your brand from others in the market.
The elements of your brand go beyond the visual.
You know the visual elements of a brand – its logo and the colors it uses, you may even pay attention to the fonts or the type of photography used in the company’s materials. In short, a brand is the visual identity of a company. It’s also much more than the visual elements you see on its website or packaging.
All well designed brands infuse a thoughtful strategy in their development. They start with an understanding of who they are and who they want to be. Our version of that is our proprietary Thought Provokers exercise. With every brand we develop (or refresh), we have our clients spend time really thinking through how they see their brands today and into the future. Then, we have them articulate those thoughts into a strategy document used to create and manage their brands.
Time and again, our Thought Provokers have influenced the strategy and design of compelling brands for our clients like In This Together Media, SkillSmart, Soule and Jeanie Coomber to name a few. They’ve also helped established companies realign their leadership staff to ensure everyone’s on the same page. After a few years in business, sometimes it’s good to revisit where you are and whether you all agree with how to move forward.
It’s time to provoke your thoughts.
So, how does it work? First, we encourage our clients to complete the Thought Provokers individually. Whether it’s a group of 1, 2 or 7, having individual answers shows us how each of the company’s leaders see the brand. Then, we dig into the data, comparing each person’s answers to understand clearly where Sally’s answers and Harry’s answers are aligned and where they are not. And then we can dig into why they’re not aligned. Other times, Harry will say something Sally hadn’t considered yet gleefully agrees with and wants to infuse into the brand.
(**Note: Harry and Sally are not real clients…)
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the questions we ask. Take these as your Thought Provokers Lite and consider the following:
What is the first impression you want someone to have of your company?
Sometimes it’s really hard to talk about yourself. Our culture doesn’t always welcome glowing reviews from the mouth of the subject being reviewed. By asking you what you want others to think about you, it gives you more freedom to be generous with yourself and your brand. It’s your free pass to tell someone all the great and wonderful things you think about your brand without judgment. After all, if you don’t believe in your brand, why should others? This helps us design a brand that emulates what you want others to think of you.
Visualize your brand as a whole and think about its potential, what do you see?
With this, we’re gaining an understanding of not just what you think about today, but how you’re looking forward and projecting your thoughts on your brand in the future. We want you to think long-term because it helps you visualize how your brand can grow and the potential for what it could be after a few successful years in business. By thinking more broadly, you give us insight and direction in creating something that can withstand the long haul of your business.
How do you talk about your services/programs/products to clients?
This question is sometimes harder than it seems when you really dig into it. You’re likely a natural in the moment, giving someone the high level overview of what you do while promoting the business. But, putting pen to paper (or in this case fingers to keyboard) can force you to more thoroughly think through what it is you really want to say. And, it gives you your words back at you, then an opportunity to clean up those words before you pass them to others (in this case, us). By being really clear in describing your services, programs or products, you articulate what you want those items to become. In short, you help us create your brand.
These questions are leading, yes. But they give us insight into how you’re thinking about the brand you want to create.
We use your responses to get in action, dissecting each of your answers and concepting how to bring your words to life through brand visuals and voice.
Your brand is so much more than your logo or your website or your brochure, but it’s heavily displayed across each. In doing the homework upfront, you’ll help guide brand development that’s on point with what your brand is and what it will grow into being.
Inspired to do your own Thought Provokers exercise? Contact us to learn how.