Clarifying your brand values is a tricky process. As we mentioned in our previous brand article: “It’s like setting off on a road-trip to an undetermined destination. No-one in the car has been there before, the road markings seem unfamiliar, but somehow, you’ll know it’s the right place when you find it.”
However, the journey is well worth it. If you’re considering a brand discovery journey, we’d like to cheer you on! We’d also like to gift you our mixed tape for the trip. At times when the going seems tough, you can rely upon these steadfast tunes for solace and advice.
Get some! Rebranding or distilling your company culture is not a simple problem, and can become more complex as it unfolds. It certainly did for us. We recommend hiring a brand coach or agency that you feel suits your company and whom you can work well with. They’ll provide guidance, insights, and an external perspective that will help your project progress more smoothly with a stronger outcome.
#2. Go your own way
Your brand is about you. That’s the whole point of the exercise. If you simply try to rip off other brands that you admire you’ll end up with hollow words and fake ideals that people can’t rally around. Worse still, your employees will feel misaligned with the brand you’ve imposed.
We used our brand project to get a better understanding of our character as group of individuals and the company itself (which led to clarifying our Brand Attributes and formulating our Jostle Declaration). Now we have those, we can be more confident and declarative about who we are.
#3. Stand by me
A key requirement for our discovery, exploration, and decision-making was to be inclusive and open, always. It was not a dictatorship. It was a multi-layer collaborative project with varying degrees of involvement from all of our employees. We alternated involvement throughout the process. There was deep work by a few focused individuals, with frequent sanity checks and creative input opportunities by others.
This inclusiveness gives people ownership over the new brand. It means your people will be reflected in your new brand and feel like it represents them. It’ll also help gain trust and support through all the changes. You’re going to reduce resistance to a new brand if people had a part in developing it and contributing to the final product. Even better, if you include your customers in your discovery process, you’ll gain their trust and advocacy too.
#4. You raise me up
During a brand exercise, you’re all learning at the same time. Everyone has the potential to feel vulnerable about their ideas, but they’re invested enough that they want those ideas to be heard.
For us, supporting each other through the process was key. It was difficult at times, when we became stuck and felt like we were moving in circles or not at all. But, we listened to each other, challenged each other, motivated one another, and came to consensus together.
#5. Don’t worry, be happy
Branding can be tricky at times and it’s not going to be perfect right away (or ever). That’s okay. Try not to overthink every detail to get to the finish line as soon as possible. Relaxing into the process and enjoying it is key—and very rewarding. There will be a result regardless, if you worry about it being this or that or a specific “thing”, you might lose sight of the real treasure.
#6. Don’t you forget about me
If your brand discovery process is an open and inclusive one, you need to demonstrate that you’ve heard and taken ideas to heart—especially if there are recurring themes. If you don’t listen to the signals when people disagree with your brand ideas, you’ll end up with a misrepresentation of the company and the whole point of the exercise will be rendered moot.
We frequently had one dissenting voice from different sources that highlighted flaws in our positioning, which forced us to be more critical and move on from something that would’ve been problematic in practice.
#7. You can’t hurry love
Sometimes you can’t force something into a timeframe. It should unfold organically and you need to give it space and breathing room. Who knows how long it will take you to find your new brand positioning? After you’ve started the project, you may realize there are some underlying aspects that need exploration.
Our advice is to be diligent now, cover everything you need, so that when you come out of the exercise you’ll be truly satisfied with the final product. Along our journey, we thought we’d arrived at the perfect positioning framework more than once, only to discover that once we tested it against our criteria, it fell apart. Our perseverance paid off, and we know that the framework we now have was worth all the additional work.
We had lots of small victories along the way (great participation in our workshops, the fit with our brand coach, the satisfaction we got from the exploration itself, being rigorous and then rewarded for it with a solid outcome, etc.) and we also had planned celebrations (like a brand launch event). This is an important part of the journey—it’s about those quick high fives as much as the popping of corks to mark a significant milestone. Find what makes sense for you—but do celebrate, and do it often.
Over and out…
Now you’ve got a medley of sweet tunes stuck in your head, hopefully you’re feeling pumped up and ready to tackle your rebranding project. From our experience, we can tell you that being declarative about your brand is extremely rewarding and brings a high return. If you’ve got a brand story, we’d love to hear from you!