Your brand is a story, not a logo

February 7, 2023

When it comes to branding, it's easy to get caught up in the aesthetics - the logo, the font, the colour palette - but a brand is so much more than that. It is the story of your company. In a world where your product or service can be copied and marketed within three months, the only thing that separates you is personality. The sustainability of your business is down to a confluence of product, brand, GTM strategy, and the sheer willpower and talent of your team.

What is critical for founders to understand is that you don't own your brand story. Your customers do. The days of command and control are over. Meaning is a virtuous circle between customer and business.The intensive (but fun!) series of exercises, first developed at Google Ventures, helps founders clarify their brand, establish a clear vision for the future, and remind themselves of the purpose and mission of their business.

Here's a breakdown of the various elements of the brand sprint and how they can be used to fuel your narrative

20-Year Roadmap

This exercise helps you think long-term, and establish a clear vision for the future of your company. That vision statement can be a more useful introduction for a cold audience than an outline of your current business model. Paint a picture of the future more generally, and outline how your company is in prime position to capitalise on that.

What, How, Why?

Made famous by Steve Jobs, the exercise helps to inform the messaging and positioning of your brand, by focusing on the “why” at the centre, rather than the “what” and “how” that tend to drive BAU. That overarching sense of purpose should drive your narrative, not the “what” and “how” of your operations.

Top 3 Values

Establishing these values helps to differentiate your company from competitors, and establish a unique identity. Many companies integrate these values into their internal and external facing materials, framing the company in terms of its core beliefs, however this is much more effective when you can demonstrate some kind of practical application.

Top 3 Audiences

Talking about your company in terms of hopes, desires, frustrations and your users, helps to demonstrate that you are deeply connected to your market which is a great starting point with any investor.

Personality Sliders

This exercise helps to establish the attitude and style of your brand. Use it to guide the tone of your pitch, ie. whether to lead with a colloquial example, or a statement about macro global trends.

Competitive Landscape

This compares your company to competitors across two dimensions; “Classic” to “Modern” and “Expressive” to “Reserved”. The idea is to identify areas of differentiation and develop strategies to stand out. Comparative positioning can be a great introduction to your company, especially if any of your competitors are particularly well known.

Now that you have reminded yourself of the purpose and mission of your business, it's time to look at some models that will help you shine a light on your audience.

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