The danger of shiny things - part 2

In part 1 of this 2 part post, I talked about the danger of executing before doing the hard work of defining the brand story.

By nailing down the story, we ensure depth and meaning in the experiences we create. Without it, we're just decorating the screen.

There is a discovery process that you can follow to help define your brand story. And ensure you're delivering experiences worth experiencing. The process starts broad and drills down to help you find a relevant, unique, and compelling story.

Step 1. Summarize the environment

Thinking about your brand, list the factors that will have an impact on how you will define your story. We do this through a PEST analysis: Political factors, Economic factors, Social factors, and Technological factors. List at least two factors in each category. It can be overwhelming to list all of the significant factors in these four categories. Remember to look at it through the lens of your brand.

Step 2. Summarize the industry

List at least three to five of your competitors. Visit their websites. Take screenshots of their home pages. Summarize the essence of their story in one sentence. If you can't discern their story, make note of the things they talk about (many brands are not defined and positioned well.) You should start to see how your brand fits into the competitive landscape.

Step 3. Summarize your brand

Do a SWOT analysis. Look at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats for your brand. List three to five items under each. This will give you a rational look at your brand. To define the emotional side, you can go through any number of metaphorical exercises. For example, ask, "If my brand were a celebrity, who would it be and why?"

Step 4. Summarize your audience

Identify your primary and secondary audiences. Don't forget influencers as well. For each, define their demographics (who they are), their psychographics (how they think), and their ethnographics (how they act). Create personas for each of your audiences by documenting these characteristics and pairing them with a picture that represents that audience. This will give you a constant reminder of who you are talking to and what motivates them.

Step 5. Write an elevator speech

An elevator speech is a great way to crystallize your brand story. It causes you to strip away the excess and tell your story in the most concise and powerful way. Use this format:

For (insert audience), who (insert the driving need of your audience), (your brand) offers (the most important benefit). Unlike (key competitor), (your brand) has (describe the unique differentiator).

This is a simplified outline of the process that big brands go through. It can be blown out with proprietary research and in-depth analysis. Or it can be stripped down, relying on intuition and experience to define the direction. Use a version of the process that's appropriate for your offering. It will help ensure that you're brand story is defined by much more than just shiny things.