Brandstorming-It’s Totally Worth it!
by Mary Kate Lo Conte
Whether you’re creating a new brand or refreshing an existing one – the notion of taking on a branding effort, in addition to everything else you’ve got on your plate, can be overwhelming. Often there is a desire to simply move ahead with what senior management feels is your brand essence along with their assumptions about your target audience. While this approach will definitely speed up the branding process, it’s almost guaranteed to derail it. When hearing that “Phase 1” of a branding effort (the strategy) can take four to six months, management often recoils and says, “We don’t have that kind of time!” The irony of that statement is organizations always find time to re-do their branding when an updated brand launch does absolutely nothing to move the needle or worse, it elicits a negative reaction from the marketplace. Just ask GAP how they felt after spending an estimated $100 million for a new logo only to go back to their original logo within a week due to customer backlash.
To avoid these pitfalls and create a strong brand identity, an internal “Brandstorming” discovery process can be used to get the qualitative research needed to gain insights into the key perceptions and attributes of a brand.
The Brandstorming process uncovers your point of distinction and branding focus and how to position your organization for the future. It is done most effectively, by bringing together small groups of 10-15 people, for 90 minutes sessions to uncover the essential facts and unique attributes to shape future marketing messages. The key is to make sure all levels of your organization, from the CEO to front line employees, are represented and to have an outside firm lead these groups to gain an objective viewpoint. This structure allows your people to speak freely and feel part of the overall branding process, which also makes them brand advocates when the new brand launches.
At the Brandstorming sessions, the goal is to learn the culture of an organization—your people, values, innovations, strengths and weaknesses—to help discover what you have that is truly unique and what branding paths you should pursue. Many times participants get really into these sessions and “speak their truth” on everything from operational strengths to dress code concerns. The great thing is you end up with a cross section of comments from a wide range of people that are enthusiastic responses, not canned comments.
In-depth “external” interviews with current clients or other key stakeholders using a customized questionnaire should also be conducted to complement the findings from your Brandstorming sessions. The objective is to uncover the uniqueness of your organization or brand differentiators, and to red flag any insights that don’t correlate with your Brandstorming findings.
Once you have completed the internal Brandstorming sessions and the external interviews, the findings will be analyzed and developed into a brand strategy document that will be the foundation for your positioning and all branding tactics going forward.
The branding process has a lot of moving parts and can be challenging. By doing the upfront strategic work and taking time for the Brandstorming process, you will no doubt crush it with your customers.