“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek.
This central tenet of Sinek’s “Start with WHY” philosophy is founded in the science of human decision making, which is fabulous news for purpose-driven businesses. And why is that? Because your why and your purpose are pretty much identical twins!
So how do you weave your WHY into your brand’s identity? We created a step-by-step outline to guide our clients through the process. And while the outline shared here does not include every step, it’s a good introduction to the process. If you have an established brand, you should be able to easily apply these and feel confident about your brand; if some of them prove challenging, it may be time to reassess and even refresh your brand.
- At the Core — Purpose & promise
- Brand Family — The family tree of brands within your organization
- Brand Position — A internal statement of consensus
- Brand Essence — The soul of your brand
- Brand Message — Voice, tone & key message points
You may be asking yourself “what exactly is brand identity?” so let’s start there! Your brand identity is comprised of various elements that together form an entity, a being of sorts, that engages with your stakeholders in the world. It’s essentially a persona for your business.
When it comes down to it, people work with people. Intentionally developing your brand’s identity — voice and visual — brings your brand to life. And consistently applying those components to every interaction builds trust between your audiences and your brand.
Some groundwork is required to create consistent components that tie back to a central position — one that communicates your WHY as a solution to your audiences’ pain points. At Prosper, we call the first part of this foundational discovery and planning process the “Market Bullseye.”
Here’s how we lay the groundwork — go ahead and give it a try!
- Identify the people with whom you want to build relationships (aka audiences, stakeholders, customers, prospects, etc.) then group them into primary and secondary audiences.
- Think about their needs, what drives them into action, what issues they are facing and what they value most?
- Now, how can you help them? What solutions do you offer that will address their needs, solve their problems and align with their highest value?
This exercise is part of our Prosper Road Map and guides us in writing messaging that frames your organization as the hero.
The bullseye helps you focus on your audience rather than your organization and its awesomeness. Now, we’re not questioning whether your organization is great; we’re simply shining a spotlight on how to effectively deliver that message.
So, what is an appropriate way to get your awesomeness across? Drumroll, please… that would be your brand identity!
At the Core
Why do you do what you do? How does your brand inspire action? Why do/should people believe in your brand? The answer is purpose.
Your brand purpose is the reason your organization does what it does. It is the meaning behind why there is an opportunity for mutual benefit to your organization and your stakeholders. It is part of what inspires your team and your audiences to engage with your brand — alignment and mutual benefit help them fulfill their own purpose.
Your brand promise is HOW that purpose comes alive as you build mutually beneficial relationships with your audiences. Delivering on your promise means upholding your purpose while providing your unique combination of benefits — your brand blend.
A brand position is an internal statement of consensus about key components held true by your leadership, and ideally your team. It condenses your organization’s answers to five (5) key questions:
- Name: What is our name, what does it stand for, what does it communicate?
- People: With whom do we want to build relationships? (Ref. Market Bullseye)
- Promise: What solution do we offer to address our “people’s” pain? How do we solve their problems?
- Landscape: What is our general industry? What does everyone in our market do the same?
- Brand Blend: What is our special sauce? What unique blend of ingredients make our brand distinct?
If you answered the previous questions, you’re on your way to pinpointing the following five (5) elements:
- Brand Name
- People — Target audience/s
- Promise — Elaboration of HOW the WHY is achieved, an emotional or rational appeal
- Landscape — The frame of reference, the general industry/market term OR one or two points of parity
- Brand Blend — Proof points, reason to believe your brand promise or your unique combination of brand benefits
Now you’re ready to plug in your elements and draft your brand position! Here’s the basic formula, but remember: Positioning is an art, not a science.
Brand Name provides People a Promise in the Landscape because of Brand Blend.
The next step in the process is to boil things down to the essential element of your business — your brand essence. We think of essence as the soul of your brand. It is based on distilled perceptions. It is the internal and external understanding of the brand held by your leadership, employees and your publics, including customers, vendors, partners, influencers, the media, etc., condensed and expressed in word.
Once you’ve made it through the esoteric essence process, you’re ready to give your brand a voice. How your brand sounds and the tone in which it communicates are extensions of the previous steps in the process. The tone is often tweaked based on the audience. You wouldn’t talk to your boss the way you talk to your spouse, would you?
The flip side of the message coin is your key message points which pull in components of your purpose, position and essence. They are basically the communication bullet points that are ultimately crafted into the key messages.
If you feel confident that you’ve correctly identified your brand’s soul, purpose, personality and voice, you’re ready to give it a face and a physical presence in the landscape. We call that the visual identity — your mark, logotype, fonts, colors, graphic elements, etc. You’re also ready to apply that brand to your website copy, social media channels and any other printed or online communications you have to promote your products or services.
Don’t want to go it alone? If you need support to help your team come to a consensus or guide you through the process, our team is ready to assist you!
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