Before you decide you need a new brand, or revamp an old one, certainly before you start any design process: you first need to clarify what your brand stands for, just how your service or product is unique. This is essential for any successful design project or marketing plan. Yet, I see so many people who wants to skip ahead and “get going. now.”
It’s a shame. Because it only takes a few minutes of your time, really, to start thinking about this.
There are just three essential questions:
1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. Why does it matter?
Obviously, just how long it takes for you to answer these, to your own satisfaction, varies. But keeping these simple questions (and your answers to them) in mind will do wonders even if you don’t decide to take the time to sit down and write everything out.
If you are interested in looking at these a little more, read on…
Who Are You?
Why are in the business you are in? What do you hope to achieve, in your wildest dreams? What legacy do you want to leave behind? No matter the size of your business, your personality matters (actually, more so if you are bigger. Look at Steve Jobs). Think about yourself. What’s your passion that connects you to your business?
Sorry, but if you have trouble answering this question, you are in a real bad shape. Call someone right now for a consultation.
What do you do?
This states your playing field, but don’t stop with just the product description, or general purpose like “make money.” This is your Core Purpose, the thing that will likely be unchanged for the life of your business.
Neumeier gives a couple of good examples: Google: to organize the world’s information. Coca-Cola: to refresh the world. Kind of obvious? How about some smaller, local brands? Look at successful brands around you, and try and think about their purpose. More successful they are, clearer their purpose (thus easier to guess what they are). My favorites: The Stranger, Stumptown Coffee, Cupcake Royale, Rogue Ales.
Why does it matter?
This is the most difficult to answer of the three, and the most important. Why should I care about you? What makes you unique? This is where you state your differentiator: is it your personality? Is it your products (try not to say “because it has x features” – no one cares)?
In most cases, what makes you unique is a combination of your offerings, narrowly targeted audience, and your environment (trends and competition) as it relates to your audience’s desires.
Neumeier’s exercise called “Onliness Statement” is brilliant in construction: it’s designed to break down the differentiation into easy-to-think-up points:
- WHAT—the category, your stated purpose
- HOW—your unique offering
- WHO—your audience
- WHERE—your spacial environment
- WHY—your audience’s emotional needs
- WHEN—your temporal environment
Again, think of a successful brand and try and guess what their Onliness would be. Let me try:
- WHAT: Seattle’s Only Alternative Paper
- HOW: that focuses on sex, drugs and rock and roll
- WHO: for younger, hipster crowd
- WHERE: in Seattle
- WHY: who want media to entertain and be their friends
- WHEN: in the era of media disillusionment
Is it all clear? Now, once you are comfortable with what these questions mean, it’s time to apply them to your own business.
Is it hard? Don’t worry if you can’t answer them right away. The important thing is that you keep them in mind. As you go about your day, battling with the daily routines of running your business, keep asking these questions, and try and write down what comes to your mind. And, talk to people! Colleagues, partners, employees all will have questions and comments to sharpen your thoughts. After a few weeks, you will have a clearer picture of what your business is all about.
And knowing, is half the battle