If you’re in the branding game, you’ve likely heard the buzz about brand strategy workshops. But what’s all the fuss about, and how can you run one like a pro?
As a designer, I’ve been through my fair share of brand strategy workshops. I used to get a little nervous before them. . “Am I just the note-taker?”, “Will I offer any unique insights?”, and so on. The questions were endless. But, fast forward to today, and my excitement levels spike before every workshop. Why? Because I’ve refined my approach. Let me walk you through my process, seasoned with my learnings and experiences.
First Things First: What’s a Brand Strategy?
Before we dive deep, let’s clarify: brand strategy isn’t just about logos or taglines. It’s the game plan that shapes the emotions, perceptions, and experiences associated with a brand. Essentially, the magic potion differentiates Coca-Cola from Pepsi, Apple from Samsung, or you from your competition.
Why Not Just Rely on Questionnaires?
Now, questionnaires are great. They’re structured, easy to distribute, and can offer valuable data. But if a brand was just about data, wouldn’t we all be running billion-dollar brands by now? Brands are emotional, evolving, and, above all, human. That’s why we need workshops. They allow for discussions, debates, and those “Aha!” moments that no questionnaire can capture.
Crafting an Effective
Brand Strategy Workshop
Let’s dive into the heart of this guide. Here’s my step-by-step process
1. Pre-Workshop Preparation
Running a successful brand strategy workshop requires a great deal of planning and preparation. Understand your client’s business, industry, and competitors. Define the workshop’s objectives and agenda.
- Prepare and setup a workshop presentation in the software of your choice. In my case, I switched from PowerPoint to Figma for a more captivating and interactive session. Previously, I relied on PowerPoint, but my clients found it dull, and discussions suffered as a result. Figma proved to be a game-changer, a dynamic digital platform that revolutionized my workshops. Its real-time collaboration and interactive features transformed the entire experience.
- Customize your workshop content and activities to match your client’s specific needs and goals.
- Set Expectations: Be transparent about the workshop’s duration, as these sessions can vary in length, ranging from 2 to 5 hours or even more. This clarity allows your clients to allocate the necessary time.
- To avoid technical hiccups, grant your clients access to the chosen tool at least an hour before the workshop.
2: Agenda & Introductions
Set the tone with a well-structured agenda. Begin with introductions to break the ice. It’s essential that everyone feels comfortable and ready to actively participate.
Just like when you meet someone new, start with “Hello”. Here, everyone gets to say their name, what they do, and maybe share a fun fact about themselves. When it’s time to get down to business, share your name, role, and the purpose of of this workshop.
Next, outline the agenda. Also, let everyone know how they can participate. It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the objectives and outcomes of the workshop. You can give a rough estimate of the time needed for each task.
3. Icebreakers Activities
I love kicking off workshops with icebreakers. This is where the magic begins. Simple, enjoyable tasks that not only break the ice but also familiarize the client with the tools we’ll be using. The more comfortable they are, the better the insights we’ll glean.
These quick, fun tasks warm up the atmosphere and get your clients involved from the get-go. Icebreakers can take various forms – from word games to creative exercises. The key is to set a tone of engagement and collaboration.
4. Deep Dive into the Brand
Now, it’s time to dive into the core of the workshop. I structure this framework into four phases.
Phase 1: Brand Foundation (Purpose, Mission, Vision & Goals)
Start by understanding the ‘why’ of the brand. What’s its purpose? What’s the mission it’s on? What’s the vision it aspires to? These questions lay the foundation for the entire workshop.
In this phase, I use the Golden Circle this concept developed by Simon Sinek, the author of the bestselling book “Start with WHY” You’ve probably already heard loads about this in the branding world — that’s because it’s incredibly useful and crucial to building a strong brand strategy and brand identity.
In this exercise, you uncover the What, the Why and the How behind the brand.
Phase 2: Brand Personality (The Brand as a Person)
To connect with an audience, a brand should have a personality. Explore the brand as if it were a person. What are its characteristics? Is it friendly, formal, playful, or serious? This step humanizes the brand.
On this phase one of the exercise or activity I include is I often compile a long list of popular adjectives that reflect the brand’s characteristics. The client then gets involved by placing “stamps” on the ones that resonate with them the most.
Phase 3: Brand Positioning (Target Audience & Market Analysis)
A brand can’t be everything to everyone. Define the target audience and analyze the market. Where does the brand fit in? This step is about positioning the brand effectively.
- Target Audience – What are their goals, desires, and problems? Have they invested in other solutions yet? What does their daily routine look like? Without understanding who you’re talking with, you can’t optimise and personalise your message. One effective way to gain this understanding is by crafting buyer personas.
- Conducting a Market Analysis:
With your audience profiled, it’s time to turn your attention and analyze your competitors to find opportunities.
- Crafting Your Value Proposition:
Armed with insights into your audience and a clear picture of your competition, it’s time to create your unique value proposition. This is a fusion of your target audience, your offerings, the value you provide, and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Here’s a formula to guide you:
Who (Your Audience) + Offer Description (What You Provide) + Value (Benefits) + USP (What Sets You Apart) = Value Proposition
Phase 4: Gap Analysis (Unmet Wants and Needs)
Now, it’s time to identify the gaps. What are the unmet wants and needs in the market that the brand can address? This phase helps in setting clear objectives for the brand strategy.
5. Wrap Up
After the deep dive, it’s time to resurface, regroup, and reflect. We summarize key takeaways, set the next steps, and ensure everyone’s on the same page.
- Preparation is Key: Prepare a comprehensive agenda that outlines the workshop’s objectives, activities, and timeline. Share this with your client beforehand, so they know what to expect.
- Get your clients involved: Actively engage your clients throughout the workshop. Avoid shouldering all the work yourself; instead, encourage their participation and input. Collaboration is key.
- Ask, and Ask Again: The primary purpose of your workshop is to ask questions. Lots of them. Questions should feel repetitive because exploring topics from various angles helps extract key phrases and ideas consistently.
- Take your time: Take your time when building your brand strategy – it’s worth putting in the effort. Give yourself plenty of time for discussions, brainstorming and exploring your options. Remember, it’s better to prioritize quality over speed!
- Seek Patterns: As you ask questions and engage in discussions, keep an eye out for patterns. Patterns in responses and themes that consistently surface are your golden nuggets of insight.
- Connect the Dots: Use these patterns to connect the dots and form insights. Insights should be the driving force behind your brand strategy.
- Natural Conversations: Encourage natural conversations during the workshop. It’s through these discussions that the most profound insights often emerge.
- Listen Actively: Active listening is your superpower. Pay attention to not just what’s said but also how it’s said. Tone, emotions, and nuances matter.
So, there you have it, folks! A simple, no-fuss guide to running a brand strategy workshop. While the steps may seem structured, the beauty lies in the flexibility they offer. Remember, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, you can always add your unique twist to make each workshop an exceptional journey of brand discovery. Embrace the process, learn from each session, and enjoy the art of brand-building. Happy strategizing! 🌟
To help you kickstart your brand strategy workshop journey, we’ve created the Brand Strategy Workshop Template. It’s a comprehensive toolkit designed for designers and strategists to run engaging, holistic brand strategy workshops.