Here’s why a brand/client discovery workshop will benefit your business (with free template)
There are a whole host of reasons to take a long, hard look at your brand.
Maybe new competitors have entered your market. Or you’re finding it difficult to express your brand difference. Your customers may have significantly changed. Or you’ve developed new products and services. It could be that your company’s growth has slowed or stopped. Or you’re finding it difficult to attract top talent.
Whatever the reason, holding a discovery workshop will provide you with insights to start tackling these issues.
But more than that, the insights you gain will give you a competitive advantage that you can build on and sustain. And a powerful brand proposition to take on your competitors more effectively. They will help to align your brand more closely with your customers. And even create paths into new markets.
Here’s how to do it.
Consider a change of scenery (or a new Zoom background)
There are no ‘hard and fast’ rules on where to run a discovery workshop. If you’ve all the facilities and necessary space within your office environment, great.
But, as many of us know, we’re living in a world of remote working at the moment. If an ‘away day’ isn’t possible for your team, try gathering everyone together on a Skype/Zoom/other video call and encourage them to change rooms, backgrounds, or device.
The aim is to feel less in ‘work-mode’ and more in ‘inspired’ mode.
A few benefits of this include:
- Sparks creativity: Interest, excitement, change of environment
- The right people: Often, less senior people are happier to rock the boat a little and a degree of naivety can often be the source of new ideas
- Everything else: Bring snacks, drinks, post-its, and a collaborative program, such as Mural or Asana.
Step one: Time for an ice-breaker
Time for two truths and one lie.
Everyone writes down three things about themselves, one of which is untrue. Each person takes turns reading their list aloud and the rest of the team writes down which they think is the untruth.
Then, they all read their list again and ‘fess up’ to the lie.
The person who identifies the most lies gets a prize.
Step two: Strengths and weaknesses
Take two post-it notes (digitally if necessary).
On one, write down what you think your brand’s biggest strength is.
On the other, write down what you think your biggest weakness is.
Stick them on the wall.
Come back to them at the end of the workshop and discuss how you feel about them after the following interactive exercises.
Remember, this only works when you’re team is honest (allow anonymity).
Step three: Brand purpose
Brand purpose can be the deciding factor as to why someone chooses your brand over another. Your brand purpose had to be real — authentic. This means customers need to believe your brand is true to itself, true to its customers, and it’s the genuine article — not pretending to be something it isn’t.
Purpose-driven brands are powerful because they stand for something. Answering the question: “What is the purpose of our brand?” is your way to appeal to basic human instinct.
Just like people, businesses need a purpose as they change and grow. Brand purpose helps everyone in the company understand what they’re trying to achieve and to give their best.
This exercise is about imagining your brand as a superhero and the evil it’s trying to rid the world of. This will reveal your all-important brand purpose. Example: a gym brand might be against intimidating classes and lack of confidence.
What to do
Let’s imagine your brand is a superhero. Everyone should now write down a list of ‘evils’ they think your brand is battling against. Write one evil per post-it.
Stick all the post-its on the wall and take a vote on the biggest evil you wish your superhero brand to take on and defeat.
Being clear on what you’re against makes it easier to be clear on what you stand for.
So, what’s your purpose?
Step four: Brand vision
Your brand vision is your company’s ultimate ambition. If everything goes to plan, this is what your company will have achieved over the next five to ten years.
Extensive research proves that having a brand vision has a number of key business benefits:
- Leaders find it easier to recruit good people and retain them
- Staff are more loyal and productive
- It captures the imagination of people (clients, staff, suppliers, etc.)
Vision-led business cultures that cultivate diversity (creative and corporate) significantly outperform those without a vision.
This exercise is about imagining your brand ten years from now. Your brand has made the front page for achieving something truly outstanding. This helps to define a vision.
What to do
Each person writes three front-page headlines. For example: “[Brand name] puts an end to coronavirus with amazing medical breakthrough”.
Discuss each headline and agree on one that best represents the brand vision.
The best way to construct your brand vision is to look at some of the vision statements of high-profile brands.
Example vision statements
Alzheimer’s Association: Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease.
Amazon: Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
Google: Our vision is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
What’s your end goal?
Step five: Brand mission
Your brand mission is how you’re going to achieve your brand vision. If brand vision is your destination, then your brand mission is your journey along the way.
This is the exciting part because you get to define the stepping-stones; what you do, how you do it, who you do it for, and how it helps them.
Your brand mission shouldn’t be exhaustive. If you’ve clearly defined your vision, then you should be able to write your mission in a couple of lines.
This exercise is about defining a realistic mission to help you reach your vision.
What to do
Write an answer to each of these questions on individual post-it notes and stick them to the wall under each question:
What do you do?
How do you do it?
Who do you do it for?
How does it help them?
Discuss each answer and form a summary for each question.
Now, repeat the exercise in a slightly different way. You’re going to think about the needs.
By forming statements from your answers, you can adopt them as your brand mission statement. This time, the questions are:
What do you need to do?
How do you need to do it?
Who do you need to do it for?
How does it need to help them?
Changing the way you think about the questions, forces you to think about the needs. Remember, business is about the user — most especially in the truest meaning of a ‘brand’.
Understanding your user needs (over business wants) is paramount to brand success. You can read a little more about this in my article ‘Here’s why content design should matter to you’.
Example brand missions
eBay: We will achieve our brand vision by providing a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.
Starbucks: We will achieve our brand vision by inspiring and nurturing the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighbour at a time.
Toyota: We will achieve our brand vision by leading the way to the future of mobility; enriching lives around the world in the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.
Okay, now you have the foundations to build a purpose, vision, and mission for your brand.
Step six: Brand values
Your brand values are what your company truly believes in. They’re the pillars of how you operate and conduct yourself. They direct the way you treat the brand, your customers, each other, and, more importantly, yourself.
Your values are the guiding principles for all activities undertaken by the business and its employees.
Your values should be real. Just because something sounds good, doesn’t mean it should be a value. It should only be a value if it truly speaks to your brand beliefs and way of doing things.
You’re going to look at different ideas of what your brand stands for and believes in. This will help you to define your brand values.
What to do
You have 15 minutes to write down sentences that you believe express what the company believes in and its guiding principles.
Each sentence will be collected and discussed. You’ll have a selection pile and a rejection pile.
With the selection pile, you’ll spend another 15 minutes trying to express them in a more compelling way.
Example: IKEA’s brand values
Humbleness and willpower.
Leadership by example.
Daring to be different.
Togetherness and enthusiasm.
Constant desire for renewal.
Accept and delegate responsibility.
Step seven: Brand personality
There have been many studies on associating human qualities to brands, and how it gives them a significant advantage.
A distinctive personality establishes a brand tone of voice or ‘way of speaking’ that helps to develop a relationship with the people your brand is trying to connect with.
As humans, we’re more inclined to be receptive to people who have similar values and characteristics to ourselves.
Personality is an important dimension of your brand because, just like human personality, it is differentiating, endearing, and enduring.
By working together, you’ll define your brand personality.
What to do
Use your post-its to write down adjectives that best describe your company. Think about what makes you special. Don’t be tempted to use words like ‘professional’ and ‘smart’ — they’re too generic and don’t differentiate your brand. Controversial and unusual words are fine for this exercise, such as ‘aggressive’, ‘complex’, ‘powerful’, ‘remote’, supportive’.
Discuss your words and voice your point of view. You’ll refine the list to 20–25 words that genuinely describe your brand and categorise them under personality traits. Example: ‘modern’, ‘forward-thinking’, ‘innovative’ might be placed under ‘progressive’.
You’ve now formed an accurate expression of your brand personality.
Step eight: Target audience
Defining customers in classifications of A B C D1 D2 E is no longer enough.
You need to understand your target audience as people with personal tastes, preferences, beliefs, and aspirations.
A far better way to get a true fix on your target audience is by creating consumer personas.
Each person will have a different result and story to clearly define your target audience. It may also open up new target customer groups.
What to do
Head over to Google or Unsplash and search for different types of people; age, education, occupation, male, female, marital status, leisure activities. Pick one photo that could be a target customer.
Spend 15 minutes thinking about this person. What’s their life like? Where do they work? How do they spend their weekends? Where do they live? And, so on. Try to connect it with your product/service. Write the story of their life in seven bullet points.
You might find that your ideal user is based on a personality type, a goal, or a niche industry. Whatever it may be, stay open-minded and find any crossovers to discover personas you might not have noticed before.
Step nine: Brand positioning
Put simply, brand positioning is about positioning your brand in the mind of your customers. Brand positioning is also referred to as a positioning strategy, brand strategy, or a brand positioning statement.
No brand exists in a vacuum and your competitors can define and position your brand by strongly establishing who they are and what they stand for. By doing this, they can squeeze you out of the territory you want to occupy.
Position your brand before someone else does.
What to do
Look at some famous brands and rate them on the following criteria:
We’re nothing like this brand — why?
These are the things I like about this brand — what?
This brand is great; there’s lots we can learn from it — what are they?
This brand is not great but we can still learn from it — in what way?
You’ll see that brands aren’t simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Our response is more subtle. Once you’ve established what your brand is and isn’t, you can create a positioning statement using the template later in this exercise.
Examples of famous brands
Positioning your brand
How have you positioned your brand?
You should now have key insights into your brand. From key strengths to key attributes that need strengthening.
Remember the post-it notes you did at the start (strengths and weaknesses)?
How do you feel about them now?
The next step is to create a brand book. You can read about them here.