Whether you are a building a business from the ground-up or you’ve been in business for a long time, defining your brand is extremely important to its success. In a previous article we discussed some of the reasons why a company would need to brand or rebrand. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help you through that process with simple steps to uncovering your main message and how it translates into successful branding.

One of our favorite books here at Ignition is The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. In his book, Marty sets the stage by asking three questions: Who are you? What do you do? And why does it matter? If you can answer these questions quickly and confidently, you’re ready to begin. If not, to meet with your leadership teams and hash this out. Because everything from here on out depends on it.

If you can in fact answer Who are you, What do you do, And why does it matter, then let’s get started.

Step 1:

As traditional (and as potentially boring as it sounds), a good-old-fashioned SWOT analysis has proven to be a very good exercise to get your people talking. Here are some of the key questions we ask:

  • What characteristics are unique to your company? It may be people, skills, resources, partnerships, or capabilities.
  • What aspects of your company might put you at a disadvantage? Go into this with the understanding that some of these characteristics may be by choice.
  • What are the internal and external influences that will lead your company to meeting its business goals, such as market trends, technology, or maybe it’s weaknesses of your competitors?
  • What are the internal and external influences that would impede your company from meeting its goals? These are usually factors that you have little or no control over but are important to identify.

Step 2:

Understanding the competitive landscape is huge. If you don’t have an accurate pulse on this, it will be very difficult for you to create differentiation. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Who do you lose a sale to? Maybe there are one or two competitors you are often up against and have trouble beating out. If that’s the case, you should ask your used-to-prospect what factors led to their decision NOT to choose you.
  • On the flip-side, list all the reasons why you seem to win sales.
  • Next, ask yourself what brands are already out in the marketplace doing what you do well. Are there any competitors that you aspire to be like? If yes, explain why.

Step 3:

By now, you should have a lot of great insight into your company and the competitive landscape. Next, define who you’re selling to. Customer personas is a popular term these days…we usually just call it audience profiling. You can easily go into enormous detail about customer personas and their buying journey, but that can grow into an entirely separate project. For now, we just want to understand who is buying or who is part of the purchase process for your products or services.

  • For starters, simply list their title and role in the purchase process. Give the profile a name if it makes it more fun. How about Jerry Miller.
  • List the things that will trip Jerry’s trigger. What are his pains that you can solve with your product or service?
  • Next list all the relevant touch-points that Jerry might experience in your marketing. For example, he might receive an email blast from you, see your posts on social media, or see an ad in a trade magazine.
  • What social media platforms is Jerry using for business purposes? What magazines is he reading? What blogs do you think he’s following?

Step 4:

The best branding and marketing campaign isn’t that great if it isn’t designed around your sales process. So make sure you spend some time on this topic.

  • How does a potential customer know they need you? How would they find you…a Google search perhaps? If so, what would they be searching for?
  • Let’s pretend a prospect finds you on Google and calls your office. Describe the ideal sales call. Even better, go to the extent of actually writing down the entire dialogue.
  • Define all the steps of the typical sales process…from initial contact to close of the sale.
  • What kinds of sales aids would help your sales team along the sales process? In other words, brainstorm the kinds of marketing tools or techniques that might help to move prospects along the sales process quicker or more efficiently.
  • What kinds of things can you give away in exchange for a good, qualified lead? This could be a free gift, or it could be proprietary knowledge in the form of a white paper or something similar.

Step 5:

If you’ve made it this far in the Brand Discovery process, you should have everything you need to develop a really strong message for your brand. From here, you may need to bring in some creative writing skills.

Brand Discovery, should fuel two or three things: 1) Composition of a concise 30-second elevator pitch, 2) Development of your key value propositions, and 3) Creation of a corporate tagline (if deemed necessary).

  • From our perspective, a successful elevator pitch has five key parts: Problem Identification, Proposed Solution, Value Offering, Summary, and Call-to-Action – written in as few words as possible
  • When composing core value propositions, they should be short and sweet. For example, For industrial manufacturers, our widget increases efficiencies between management teams and the shop floor.
  • You may or may not need a new corporate tagline. There are some who feel it’s important, where others believe it’s unnecessary. At Ignition, we tend to feel they are important. Especially when it comes time to launch a newly-branded company.

We trust you will find value in this process as you make your way through a rebranding initiative. Good luck!

If you need help conducting a comprehensive Brand Discovery as part of your branding or rebranding effort, Ignition would be happy to discuss your project.