We know that the online space is a-flutter with "knowing your brand values" or "knowing what your brand stands for." And for lots of companies the idea of brand beliefs or values seems exciting, but they really don't understand how to either get started, or know they're on the right track when they're working.
This is especially true for brands that have a team working together to create their brand values — it can often be confusing to come to one consensus about what the brand stands for when there are so many cooks in the kitchen.
This article is going to walk you through the Prim'd Method of creating brand beliefs or brand values. Within our process, these them be the "guiding lights" for everything we write in the brand's message or positioning within the market. They're the goal posts or pillars we come back to while writing, and the plumb-line we use while editing to make sure that our position is unique to each brand, truly tells their story, and avoids generic lexicon that everyone else is using.
Get started with some questions:
The first place that The Brand Plan, our brand strategy offering, begins is with some pretty in depth questions. And we specifically design these questions to reveal inner motivations of the founding team, aspirations and hopes, held beliefs about the market or deep passions held by our clients.
The reason this is important is because your customers don't care about your latest marketing gimmick. In fact, it's likely that they barely remember what you do (sorry, tough love there!). But they will remember how you made them feel, and lean in when invited to join in on the passion.
Often times this means as a brand you have to take a stand. And for a lot of companies they love it in theory, but when it comes down to it, they soften their stand to the point where they sound generic. Or they go for the same "low hanging fruit" as everyone else in the industry (and they end up sounding generic).
So, we start with passion, vision and invitation because that's the juicy stuff. And if you want your brand to be juicy, you've gotta bring it.
Some questions your team should be asking each other:
- If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
- If you could tell your customers one thing, what would that be?
- What is the best part of the work — the stuff that you sneak in on weekends or late nights to do?
- What is one moment where you were the most proud in your business?
- What was a situation or mistake that you saw someone else in your industry do, and it made your skin crawl?
We know that running a yoga studio isn't really about sun salutations, it's about watching people's courage on the mat translate to courage off the mat. Creating a flawless corporate event isn't about linens or napkins, it's about creating a space for people to deeply connect. And each of these questions can help reveal to you that deeper layer that you want to share or communicate through your brand.
If you have a team, go around and share your answers. Perhaps write some of your own questions too. Everyone else should listen and take notes on answers. If someone's response prompts you to have a question — ask it!
Next, data dump.
Once your team (or you) has all gone around and answered these questions, pull out some Post-it® Notes. Give everyone on the team 10 minutes to write down a word, phrase or concept onto each Post-it® Notes.
This is not a time to analyze or judge, you just want to jot down all of the major things you heard. Use nouns like "health advocate," "teacher," "guide." Use feeling words like "courage," "bravery," or "peace." Use action words like "invigorate," "empower," or "embolden."
You don't have to go grab a thesaurus just yet — just look at all of your notes from the previous discussion, and break those thoughts into concepts. One per Post-it® Notes.
Gather & Coalesce
Now that each person has 20 - 30 Post-it® Notes in front of them, it's time to start re-arranging them. There are a couple different ways that you can approach this. For me, I like to start lumping "like ideas" together.
For example, you might have terms like "candid," "humorous," "enjoyable," and "lighthearted." Start physically moving your Post-it® Notes together until you have what we call a "concept cluster." Typically I end up with 4 major concept clusters, or like ideas that seem to sit well together.
Another approach you can take (and this is how Sophie thinks this part through), is to start thinking through each of these four categories: WHY (or motivations), HOW (method or approach), PERSONALITY (what it feels like), and RESULTS (what do people walk away with). Place each of your Post-it® Notes in one of those four buckets.
There's no right or wrong way to structure or gather your ideas, but the point here is to go from 30 individual concepts to 3 - 5 concept clusters. You may have a few Post-it® Notes that don't really fit into a bigger cluster. Hold those to the side and share with your team anyway. You never know how your "extra" thoughts might fit into someone else's thinking. Also, you might find that you have some overlap — Post-it® Notes that seem to belong in more than one concept cluster, or concept clusters that bleed from one idea to the next. This is ok too! Do the best you can, arrange and re-arrange until it feels mostly right.
If you're working on a team, take turns presenting to each other your concept clusters. Talk through your reasoning of why you structured your thoughts that way.
Shape brand beliefs or values.
From here, Sophie and I usually get a little creative. If we're lucky — we've both have a lot of words or concepts that overlap. This is magical when this happens. We might both Post-it® Notes that say "bringing light to women's experiences" and "highlighting women's voices," and we know we're on the right track.
Feel free to start placing your Post-it® Notes together — maybe taking apart one person's structure to fit within someone else's or fill in gaps. A warning here, there are times where getting everyone to "yes" can feel like a hairpin turn, but you will get there!
Take turns making your arguments or sharing thoughts about what concepts mean and how they work together with other concepts, refining the Post-it® Notes until you have 4 categories (WHY, HOW, PERSONALITY and RESULTS).
NAME YOUR BRAND BELIEFS OR VALUES.
Now that you have your 4 concept clusters, your team now needs to decide on the "one thing" you're going to call that belief or value. As I said, sometimes that's easy because everyone wrote down the same thing. Sometimes it's harder because the concept is still a little fuzzy, and you're having to create lexicon for an amorphous idea.
We often start with one of the stronger Post-it® Notes and start there as the name for the belief or value. Or we often fuse two primary concepts together to become one complex idea. If none of your Post-it® Notes work, pull out the thesaurus and start looking for words that really capture the idea you're trying to communicate.
Map your Brand Beliefs or Values.
Finally, display your brand beliefs using a "wheel and spoke" graph. Place your main concept in the middle, and all of the supporting ideas (from your Post-it® Notes) around the sides. This gives a visual feel for not just the main thought, but all of the supporting thoughts that went into crafting that belief or value.
From here, your team can take your brand beliefs one step further by writing out a paragraph or two of what those ideas mean to the brand. You can think of this as your manifesto, your invitation to customers, and your declaration of passion.
We'll create another article on that portion later, but for now, hang your brand beliefs up in a place where you can see them. Use them when drafting social media copy, for blog post ideas, or newsletters. You can use them as marketing campaign ideas, or ways to measure if an opportunity is right for your brand.
NOW YOU TRY
DOWNLOAD OUR BRAND BELIEF CONCEPT MAP AND GET STARTED!
With our concept map + your Post-It Notes + your team, you're on your way to having a clearer understanding of the unique beliefs your brand is bringing to market.
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