“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek.
This central tenet of Sinek’s “Start with WHY” philosophy is founded in the science of human decision making, which is fabulous news for mission-driven businesses. And why is that? Because your why and your mission are pretty much identical twins!
So how do you weave your WHY into your brand’s identity? We created a step-by-step outline to guide organizations through the process.
- At the Core — Purpose & promise
- Brand Family — The family tree of brands within your organization
- Brand Position — A internal statement of consensus
- Brand Essence — The soul of your brand
- Brand Message — Voice, tone & key message points
You may be asking yourself “what exactly is brand identity?” so let’s start there! Your brand identity is comprised of various elements that together form an entity, a being of sorts, that engages with your stakeholders in the world. It’s essentially a persona for your business.
When it comes down to it, people work with people. Intentionally developing your brand’s identity — voice and visual — brings your brand to life. And consistently applying those components to every interaction builds trust between your audiences and your brand.
Some groundwork is required to create consistent components that tie back to a central position — one that communicates your WHY as a solution to your audiences’ pain points. At Prosper, we call the first part of this foundational discovery and planning process the “Market Bullseye.”
Here's how we lay the groundwork — go ahead and give it a try!
- Identify the people with whom you want to build relationships (aka audiences, stakeholders, publics, tribes, etc.) then group them into primary and secondary audiences.
- Think about their needs, what drives them into action, what issues they are facing and what they value most?
- Now, how can you help them? What solutions do you offer that will address their needs, solve their problems and align with their highest value?
This exercise is part of our Prosper Road Map and primes the pump for messaging that frames your organization as their hero.
The bullseye helps you focus on your audience rather than your organization and its awesomeness. Now, I’m not questioning whether your organization is great; I’m shining a spotlight on how to effectively deliver that message.
So, what is an appropriate way to get your awesomeness across? Drumroll, please... That’s right folks, your brand identity!
At the Core
What is our mission, our purpose or our WHY? Why do we do what we do? How does our brand inspire action? Why do/should people believe in our brand?
Your brand purpose is the reason your organization does what it does. It is the meaning behind why there is an opportunity for mutual benefit to your organization and your stakeholders. It is part of what inspires your team and your audiences to engage with your brand — alignment and mutual benefit help them fulfill their own purpose.
Your brand promise is HOW that purpose comes alive as you build mutually beneficial relationships with your audiences. Delivering on your promise means upholding your purpose while providing your unique combination of benefits — your brand blend.
A brand position is an internal statement of consensus about key components held true by your leadership, and ideally your team. It condenses your organization’s answers to five (5) key questions:
- Name: What is our name, what does it stand for, what does it communicate?
- People: With whom do we want to build relationships? (Ref. Market Bullseye)
- Promise: What solution do we offer to address our “people’s” pain? How do we solve their problems?
- Landscape: What is our general industry? What does everyone in our market do the same?
- Brand Blend: What is our special sauce? What unique blend of ingredients make our brand distinct?
If you answered the previous questions, you’re on your way to pinpointing the following five (5) elements:
- Brand Name
- People — Target audience/s
- Promise — Elaboration of HOW the WHY is achieved, an emotional or rational appeal
- Landscape — The frame of reference, the general industry/market term OR one or two points of parity
- Brand Blend — Proof points, reason to believe your brand promise or your unique combination of brand benefits
Now you’re ready to plug in your elements and draft your brand position! Here’s the basic formula, but remember: Positioning is an art, not a science.
Brand Name provides People a Promise in the Landscape because of Brand Blend.
The next step in the process is to boil things down to the essential element of your business — your brand essence. We think of essence as the soul of your brand. It is based on distilled perceptions. It is the internal and external understanding of the brand held by your leadership, employees and your publics, including customers, vendors, partners, influencers, the media, etc., condensed and expressed in word.
Once you’ve made it through the esoteric essence process, your ready to give your brand a voice. How your brand sounds and the tone in which it communicates are extensions of the previous steps in the process. The tone is often tweaked based on the audience. You wouldn’t talk to your boss the way you talk to your baby, right?!
The flip side of the message coin is your key message points which pull in components of your purpose, position and essence. They are basically the communication bullet points that are ultimately crafted into the key messages.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Now that your brand has soul, purpose, personality, voice, and knows what to say and to whom, you’re ready to give it a face and a physical presence in the landscape. We call that the visual identity — your mark, logotype, fonts, colors, graphic elements, etc.
Can’t do it alone? If you and your team need facilitation to help you come to a consensus or guide you through the process, our brand artists are ready to assist you!