Industry jargon can be confusing, no matter what field you’re in. For us folks in the branding and web design world, some of our terms can look like: brand values, mission statement, value proposition, brand personality, archetypes, messaging, vision statement, attributes, values, competitive analysis… the list goes on and on!
And sure, we as designers understand what these terms mean but what if we didn’t? We’d likely start to feel super overwhelmed, heck I even feel a little overwhelmed by that list and I do know what they all mean! Now, imagine how your client would feel?⠀⠀
It’s like if you go to the doctor or to get your taxes done, your head would probably explode if those folks just spewed off all of their own industry jargon with minimal explanation. Trust me, my fiance is an accountant and I have no idea what he’s talking about half the time. I don’t know about you when you talk to your accountant, but I need him to repeat things a few times for it to truly sink in. That’s the same feeling our clients feel when we shout things like “brand values” and expect them to know the meaning!Part of your client experience needs to be breaking down these industry terms into digestible pieces so that they can fully understand and get on board with the process. This is especially critical when offering brand strategy workshops for your clients, as they’re full of all kinds of industry slang. Instead of only using those terms in your dialogue, focus on what the brand strategy should include, focus on what it solves, and what is answers for the client.
What this uncovers: This asks what is our mission? What’s the entire purpose of the brand?
Why it’s important to know this: This is the guiding vision for the brand, and its big picture, long-term goals. All decisions made within the business should reflect this overarching goal for the brand. Without a brand mission, it’s as if the business is operating with no guiding principles or vision. This should offer clarity for the brand and relate to where they aspire to grow in the future.
Excited to learn more about this concept, visit one of my recent blog posts, “The scoop on powerful branding: why start with why”.
You may also see this as: Vision statement, the brand “why”
What this uncovers: This explores the what and the how of the brand, aka the products or services. Not only does it answer the brand’s offerings, but this question tackles the process, or how the world comes to interact with that product or service.
Why it’s important to know this: This at the most basic level of what the brand does and how it does it. We cannot know how to properly design a brand or market one without this basic foundation.
You may also see this as: This mission statement, The “one-liner”
What this uncovers: This question answers who the audience of the brand is and prompts further exploratory questions like, What are they struggling with? How can the brand help them? What type of solutions do they provide? While demographics are a good place to start, the brand’s strategy should focus more on the psychographics of its audience. Diving into the who can dictate so much of the strategy for a brand.
Why it’s important to know this: It’s so important for a successful brand to truly understand WHO their audience is and from that, how best to serve them.
You may also see this as: The audience persona, the client avatar, ideal client
What this uncovers: This addresses why someone would choose this brand over any other brand. What sets them apart? How are they different? Digging into a brand’s differentiating factors is important for a successful brand to carve out their own space in their industry. Analyzing a brand’s competition and the gaps in the market is also helpful to see where your brand could really shine and innovate.
Why it’s important to know this: It’s critical to use a brand’s differentiating factors to your advantage and to help the brand stand out in a sea of sameness. When you know what makes you different, it makes your competition irrelevant.
You may also see this as: Differentiating factor, positioning statement, x-factor
What this uncovers: Digging into the brand’s values can also be known as the moral compass of a business. What does the brand stand for and embrace completely? What causes or long-term missions align with the brand? Asking more soul searching questions can help uncover a brand’s true values.
Why it’s important to know this: The brand’s values will serve as a kind of compass across company-wide decisions that are made. Having these values easily on-hand and clear will help the brand stay in check and true to who they are and their ultimate vision for the brand. The brand’s values ensure that the brand is always acting with integrity in all aspects of the business.
You may also see this as: Brand Values, Brand compass
What this uncovers: This sheds light on how the brand will show up and how the brand portrays itself, both in-person and online. It defines what type of voice the brand will use and the overall personality of the brand.
Why it’s important to know this: A brand is more than just logos and visuals, I expand on this in greater detail in my blog post “The Brand Iceberg: Understanding why Both Strategy & Visuals are Key” and how the “below the surface” branding is actually the foundation of the visible branding. The brand will be remembered more by its personality and how it connects with its audience than its colors or font system. Truly understanding a brand’s personality and how that plays into its copy and beyond is instrumental for a brand to connect on a more emotional level with its audience.
You may also see this as: Brand Voice, Brand Personality, Archetypes
After reading over those questions, you’re sitting there thinking, “hey, that made sense and I feel a great sense of clarity around what those questions could do for a business!” That’s right, and none of that was filled with aggressive industry jargon that only serves the designer, not the client. Simple is always better and explaining things in ways that are universally understood is the way to go. Your clients have enough to worry about already — losing them in your language choice shouldn’t be another thing on their list they have to work through! Explaining things the way you’d want it if you didn’t know anything about a niche.
Brand strategy doesn’t have to be over-complicated, it’s all about asking the right questions (that the client understands) and getting them to dig deep for those authentic answers. If anything, I hope you see the true value and clarity that can come from a brand strategy workshop and how it’s crucial for brands to have these base guidelines before beginning their visual branding.
Want to learn more about brand strategy and how you could incorporate it into your business workflow? Watch my free video training on how to master brand strategy!