In today’s crowded and oversaturated markets, having a strong brand is imperative which is why going through the brand discovery process is worth the extra effort.
Your brand is so much more than just your logo, colour palette, and typography. Every brand is unique, just like a person. It has a style, a personality, and a way of showing up in the world that is unlike any other.
A brand is what communicates your business offerings to the world. It has the power to attract or repel your potential customers. For that reason, the brand discovery process is vitally important if you want to successfully market any product, service, or business to the right people.
Why is brand discovery important?
Why should you bother going through the process of discovering your brand? Before getting into what the process actually entails, it helps to gain an understanding of why brand discovery is important.
01. A Brand Strategy Makes Decisions Easier
Business owners constantly have to make important decisions about their businesses. Wouldn’t it be easier to make those important decisions if you had a set of guiding principles informing how your brand looks, feels, and operates? That’s exactly what the brand discovery process gives you. It allows you to see your brand for what it is and make informed decisions about where you want it to go in the future. With this awareness, you can make decisions that further your brand’s overall vision.
If you’re just starting out in business, you likely don’t have a huge team yet. But in the years ahead, as your team expands to five, ten, or even hundreds of employees, more and more hands will be on the materials you produce. Having a clear, established brand strategy will help make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your business goals. This will help minimize confusion and keep your brand consistent over time.
02. Brand Discovery Leads to Stronger Sales
A confused person never buys. Consumers make purchases when they recognize that a product or service meets a need or desire they have. They need to be able to instantly identify with what you’re selling and how you’re selling it.
The brand discovery process results in brand clarity and a clear understanding of what audience your brand is for. This translates to reduced confusion and helps you communicate your value to potential customers in a concise, straightforward way. A clear and confident brand isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity that has a big effect on your bottom line.
03. A Strong Brand Strategy Grows Your Business
Taking the time to think through your brand strategy will yield real results for your business. Think about it – impactful brands don’t just happen by accident. They originate from lots of careful thought and planning.
You may think your product is amazing and that everyone in the world will benefit from it. But that may not necessarily be true. Even if it is, people still need an initial reason to buy from you.
Unless you have a first-mover’s advantage, your market is probably full of competitors who sell something similar to what you do. The brand discovery process is indispensable for figuring out what makes you different from your competitors and why your customers should choose you over anyone else.
Questions to Guide the Brand Discovery Process
With a better understanding of why it’s worthwhile to go through the brand discovery process, you can start to learn more about what the process actually involves.
Every brand is unique, and brand discovery may look different depending on your industry. There are, however, some basic guiding questions that help identify some of the most important aspects of any brand. These questions provide a great starting place for defining your brand’s value, style, and goals.
01. What does your business do?
While it may sound like a simple question, you would be surprised by how many businesses struggle to come up with a concise answer. If you can’t explain what your business does in a few sentences, chances are, no one else is going to understand it either.
Since a confused person never buys, getting this step right is critically important. Work on boiling down your core offerings into a few short sentences.
Your explanation should be able to pass the fifth-grader test – would a fifth-grader be able to understand what your business does? If not, keep revising.
02. What problem does your business solve?
People buy solutions to their problems. What core problem does your business solve for your customers? Don’t worry about how your business solves this problem just yet. Instead, focus on your target customer’s pain points.
Why is this important to identify? Your brand messaging will always be pointing back to this problem. It’s important to become intimately familiar with your potential customers’ problems so you can clearly communicate how your business solves them.
03. Who is your target audience?
Now that you have a clear understanding of what problem your business addresses, think about who your brand is for.
Many businesses make the mistake of trying to include everyone in their target audience. They don’t want to limit the size of their potential target market, so they don’t exclude anyone from the pool of people they’re trying to reach.
The problem? When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one. Saturated markets make having a niche extremely important. Not everyone is going to love your product or service, and that’s ok. Focus on the people who need and are willing to pay for what you’re selling.
If you can’t narrow it down to a specific vertical, at least try to understand some basic information about the people you serve.
- How old are they?
- Where do they work?
- What do they struggle with?
- What are their main interests?
The better you can clarify who your target customers are, the more impactful your branding will be because everything you create will be for the benefit of a specific type of person. Your target customers will connect with your brand because it will be speaking directly to them.
04. What are your business goals?
One of the most important parts of the brand discovery process is getting a clear picture of where your business is currently and where it is going. Your goals may be financial, or they could have to do with the impact you hope your brand will have.
The point of building a brand is to grow and develop your business. In other words, your brand’s job is to take your business from Point A to Point B. To build a brand that actually accomplishes this, you need to know what Point B is, at least generally.
So, for example, maybe your business is currently only gaining traction with millennials, but in the future, you’d like to engage some older generations. Knowing this will inform your overall brand strategy, messaging, and visual aesthetic.
05. If your brand were a person, what would its personality be like?
It’s important to be able to qualify your brand with a few adjectives. This will help inform the style and tone of practically every piece of content or marketing material you create.
Is your brand loud? Perhaps it’s more subdued or understated. Or, maybe it’s high-end and sophisticated. Brainstorm some descriptive words, and remember to keep your target audience in mind. Which words would you use to describe your target customer? It may be a good idea to use some of the same adjectives to describe your brand.
This is another area you should keep simple. Limit the number of adjectives you use to just three or four to avoid overcomplicating the exercise.
06. Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Getting an idea of what already exists in the market is crucial to figuring out where your brand fits in. Look around to see how your competitors have branded themselves, and take note of some things they do well or could improve upon.
This isn’t meant to be an exercise in comparison. The goal is to identify gaps in the market that your business can fill. Learn from your competitors and take inspiration from them; then, add your own spin.
07. What is your unique selling proposition?
Now that you’ve seen what your competitors are up to, what makes you different? How are you going to differentiate yourself from what’s already out there? In other words, why should your potential customers choose you over another brand that offers something similar?
It’s important to note that your unique selling proposition should originate from a combination of your business goals and an existing market need. If the factor that makes your brand unique isn’t something your target customers actually want or need, it’s not going to benefit your business.
Try to identify your unique angle, whether it’s a difference in price, an industry specialization, or a rare combination of offerings.
There are also some helpful external methods of discovering some of this information. You can conduct research surveys through email marketing, customer surveys or even conduct a focus group. Whatever the means, the brand discovery process is a vital practice for any new, growing, or evolving business and establishes a foundation in which a solid brand strategy can be developed, helping your business stand out and achieve long-term success.