Lean Branding for Creatives and Entrepreneurs
What does it take to create the necessary foundation for a strong brand vision? In my journey I found a couple of juggernauts who offered great strategies, respectively, The Futur and Ran Segall. I have had the opportunity to study their method and I found some key portions used to discover, unveil, and facilitate the properties of a given brand idea. Ran used Story Branding by Donald Miller and The Futur utilized their own amalgamated method called CORE. They are both extremely useful and, yet, both didn’t fit my needs exactly. CORE is too sophisticated, especially for a rising designer where I seldom have the budget and time to make use of the full strategy. On the other hand, Story Branding was too simple yet highly practical but I felt it didn’t dive deep enough. So after a couple of projects and practice sprints, I realized I made use of only a handful of frameworks that struck a balance between practicality and sophistication. Finally, I the nail in the coffin was reading the book “The Design Thinking Toolbox” which helped me create the Lean Branding strategy. I use its contents for discovery sessions and strategy sessions because it is introductory, scalable, and bridges a vision between business and art direction.
I market myself as mainly a strategic designer and I found that the best exercise upon first meeting is Story Branding. It’s an easy way to obtain a birds eyes view of the potential project! We establish a cornerstone narrative so that its easy to share, to understand, and most importantly creates resonance with a given audience. Plus, its just plain fun! Everyone loves a good story!
Here’s the structure simply put:
A Hero has a want/need but has a Problem. He meets a Guide, who gives them a Plan to help their success.
This structure was derived by Joseph Cambell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” and later popularized by pop culture movies such as Star Wars. It also is a great resource for understanding individuals at a meta-personal level. Practice using the structure! It’s fairly easy. For example, in the Matrix, Neo is the Hero but has a problem. He wants to be freed yet is trapped inside the matrix. He meets a Guide named Morpheus who offers to share with him the truth and later a plan. Morpheus frees him and later helps him become free’d hero. In this structure Neo, the hero, is our customer, and Morpheus, the guide, is our brand who will help the customer. Add some slides in the discovery session with pictures containing relevant movies, stories, etc that you feel could potentially relate. Teach, and collaborate with your clients, friends, or use it for your own projects.
After Story Branding, the next best exercise to work through is the Brand Attributes exercise. I usually only continue with this strategy after the project is discovered meaning we have agreed on its terms from timeline to payment. This exercise particularly reveals a granular composition of the brand’s vision, plus its the second to best fun portion. We allow our imagination’s to freely roam and brainstorm words to pin down the brand vision. Emphasize the importance of emotional content here because it will truly drive the aesthetics of the art direction once we get designing.
Our containers are: Alignments, Culture, Customers, Voice, Feeling, Impact, and X-Factor.
Brainstorm and list adjectives, attributes, phrases, and etc., words under each that best describe the brand by header. Use the Alignments column to capture more general ideas. This column is meant to be plastic. Here we can ask: what are brands one imagines your future company working with? Who would they partner with? I like to ask off-the-wall questions such as: what artist, band, or actor could you imagine in the brand’s ad in 8 years? Or take another from my last call: what everyday brands would your company use day to day? Microsoft or Apple computers? This portion serves as a platform for capturing ideals, preferences, opinions but most importantly is a great way to kickstart the conversation and capture ideas that may have never come to fruition.
“Make the Alignments section your own! Have fun with it and dare to be different, God only knows that there will only be so few times for fun in a given workshop.”
Finally, after obtaining a birds eye view, and accumulating granular context, we create customer profiles. Inspired by “Design Thinking Toolbox” I utilize four types of customer Archetypes that are practical and flexible. It segments the Customer Journey into four parts or, rather, types: Seeker, Aspirational, Future, and Foundational.
It can be looked at in two ways such as: a journey across time with milestones or by the amount of influence archetype has in your brand. For most, during inception, the aspirational and the future archetypes are the most important type to attract. It’s because they are the types who share the same aspirations, goals, and of course have a problem our brand can solve. Seekers are unaware of your brand’s presence while aspirational are but have not become acclimated.
The foundational archetype are typically - a dime a dozen yet it’ll be important to have a considered a place for them in your brand’s future ecosystem. Now last but not least, the Future archetype is our sweet spot. Not everyone will host an event for your brand like the foundational and so what we may expect is a watered down regular similar to the foundational type. The Future types will be our regular customers, may post every now and then, share their stories quite often, and are typically on our email list for promotions for example.
Given these archetypes, power through the profile generators creating at least one for each. The format of the profiles is largely inspired by CORE, you can quickly input the relevant information by Demographics, Story, Needs, and Solutions.
I wanted to cut out the noise and over-complications that projects typically won’t need and to bridge business into design with utmost ease. It’s a little bit of everything. I hope this is helpful and that this could propel your business or service further.
Be ready for your next project. You can either blow a designer away having worked all this out already, coming prepared ready to start! Or better, perhaps you can facilitate your clients by organize their vision and your design ready abilities into a coherent vision! Reach out and lets work together or buy the workbook and do it yourself!
Download the keynote here: https://gumroad.com/drewroze#MYbBb