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4-step company branding exercise [template included]
How would you describe your business? How would you like others to describe it? How will this inform your messaging?
When your company is relatively new, it's important to establish your main branding and positioning at the foundation of your brand voice and marketing. This core component of your go-to-market strategy will be essential in the shaping of your brand's messaging according to the core values, attitudes, and attributes that you would like to project.
We created this branding exercise with four simple steps. Use the Trello board brand exercise template to help your team nail down your current brand identity, and who/what you aspire to become.
How to use the branding exercise template
The following instructions are also part of the Trello board template you can download below.
Access your branding exercise Trello board
1. Categorize the cards to describe your brand identity and aspiration
Create three sections to categorize your cards. We would recommend something like “Who we are”, “Whom we’d like to be”, and “Who we aren’t”.
To start, go through each of the cards and identify which cards best describe your brand persona today, whom you’d ideally like to be, and who not. Place each card under the appropriate section. You don’t have to use all of the cards, only the ones that resonate.
2. Filter and make some tough choices
Here’s where we have to start making the tough choices. Determine which brand words fit your business. Be honest here about the services and products you provide. Your voice needs to be authentic.
Are there conflicts? Can you be both “tactical” and “strategic”? Why did you choose both “cool” and “hip”? What do these terms mean for your brand internally?
Consider each card in this category carefully. Narrow your focus as much as possible and resolve any issues that arise between the cards you’ve chosen.
Anything that you decide is a poor fit for your business or conflicts with other messages, move to the “Who we aren’t” list.
3. Prioritize your selections
More tough decisions. Now that you’ve narrowed down your traits, it’s time to decide which are the most important.
Do you want to emphasize the fact that you’re “international”? Or, is it more important that people understand that you’re “consistent”?
Put all of your cards in rank order — no ties!
4. Articulate your new brand identity
Now that you have a clear set of adjectives that define your brand and a list of adjectives that define what your brand is not, it’s time to create a clear narrative.
Match each of your “Who we are” cards with a card from the “Who we aren’t” list that sets the scope of your identity. Put these cards together into sentences that define your persona. For example, “We are formal, but not elitist.”
If you want the exercise to be even more inspirational, you can do the before step by combining "Whom we'd like to be" with the "Who we aren't" column.
If you can’t find a matching card from the “Who we aren’t” list, then you may need to add another term or phrase to articulate your position.
Once you’ve gone through each item on your list, you’re done. You can kick back and enjoy margaritas for the rest of your career.
Okay, it’s not quite that easy. But, you have accomplished something that most brands struggle with by articulating a clear list of concise brand traits that make you unique. This is your guide to building your brand. These traits should resonate with everything you say and do as a company.
Pat yourself on the back, but remember that this is just the beginning. Now you have the direction, it’s time to start on the real journey.
You can put the work you've done in this exercise to use right away in the brand voice section of your messaging framework; and if you don't have one yet, you can download our messaging framework template here.