DESIGN@WORK

Step 1: The Branding Workshop

13-1022-WorkshopRecently, we looked at the 6 key elements of successful brand deployment, which gave an overview of our process for developing brands. The first two elements were “Company Definition” and “Corporate Strategy” — makes sense to start with the basics. But how do we get to know the company so well we can define it? That’s where our Branding Workshop comes in.

A workshop! Doesn’t that sound fun? Yes, you may have to bribe your team into participating. And you will need to speak up and share your ideas and opinions (harder for some than others). But we’ll all work hard, collaborating as a group. All this work will be well worth it in the long run when everyone is on the same page about exactly what your brand stands for.

Here’s how it works.

1. Preparing the Workshop: Where is the opportunity?

While preparing the Workshop, we gather a lot of information about you — interviewing key internal and external stakeholders, throughly reviewing your marketing collateral, looking at your competitors, and more. But we want to identify any gaps in our knowledge about your company. This could include gaps about your business, your brand, or maybe your audiences… all the relevant details that go into brand building. We recognize that these gaps could be symptomatic of the information you aren’t communicating about your biz in general, so we pay special attention to them. Then we design the workshop specifically for your biz, building upon the knowledge you’ve shared with us and working to bridge those gaps. The goal of the workshop is to get a deeper understanding of your brand and all the specialness about it. This is how we’ll be able to successfully translate your biz to crisp clear communications.

2. Scheduling the Workshop: Who’s around the table?

Scheduling the workshop is easy…maybe. It depends on how many people need to be in the room. And let’s try to get them all into the room — a workshop in person is far more efficient than a virtual one via video or telephonically. In my experience, a working group of five brings enough diversity and knowledge into the room, but is still a manageable number of voices. These five should be chosen carefully — they should be dedicated staff who can bring insight and expertise about your biz. A diverse perspective is very important here, as is choosing team mates who get your core business, brand and company culture, along with a shared vision for the enterprise.

3. The Workshop Agenda: What does it look like?

Workshop agendas are all different, as each Workshop is designed specifically for the client. The focus of the Workshop is typically on those items that are still not clear after our research — the elements of brand that the company needs the most help defining.

A presentation deck will outline the Workshop; it is distributed to the working group several days beforehand so that folks can consider things before we all meet up to discuss. Typically designed for three hours or less, we try to keep the agenda chunked in a way that is not overwhelming.

What follows is an example of a workshop we did last spring for a client who was looking for refinement due to a major shift in their core business which was never reflected in their branding.

13-1022-Workshop-1

Keeping it to 5 items or less makes the most efficient use of our time.

13-1022-Workshop-2

We try to cut to the quick of your core business.

13-1022-Workshop-3

Discovering your big audacious goal.

13-1022-Workshop-4

We spend a chunk of time discussing your customers and other strategic targets.

13-1022-Workshop-5

Getting to the core of “what you are all about.”

13-1022-Workshop-6

We are sure to discuss the visual and tonal qualities of the brand, which inform the creative direction.

4. Workshop Outputs: What do you get?

Workshop Notes

We distribute our raw notes immediately after the Workshop, and get going on the Brand Frame.

After the Workshop, we send out our raw notes from the event. This is just to remind you of what we discussed. Our next big task is to start pulling together the Brand Frame, which holds the company definition and the brand DNA. We spend a few weeks iterating on this fundamental piece. It’s the critical document that pulls together all of the ideas from the Workshop and lays the foundation upon which we’ll build our brand. The whole point of the Workshop is so we can make a really great, relevant Brand Frame. More about that in the next post in this series.

5. The Take-Away

There are a few key things to keep in mind about the workshop:

1. The prep pays off, in spades. While it may be a hassle to get the right people together to put their thinking caps on about the company and the brand, it’s critical to building a successful brand. Hone your leadership skills to get them excited about the process, and be sure your team is on the same page when it comes to the goals and the direction the company or organization is taking. There’s nothing worse for a Workshop than when the internal team starts arguing about where the company should be going.

2. 5 people, 3 hours. The majority of the work is in the preparation. Once the structure of the workshop has been defined by the prep, your team is free to be creative and think “outside the box” about the potential of the brand. You’ll be surprised at the awesome ideas that will come out of these three hours of interaction. And your team will find itself energized by the process.

3. Keep your team focused. It’s easy to get distracted by other business initiatives. Brand building may be lower on the priority list, but it will get done faster, and better, if your internal team stays focused and responsive through the duration of the project. Do whatever you can to keep them motivated and psyched about the project. Scheduling regular meetings will help move things along. And keep it fun!

See all the posts in this Brand Series »