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June 24, 2021

Brand Workshop – Not Just a Buzzword

Samantha Davis

Brand Workshop - Not Just a Buzzword

In 2021, the services I’m selling as an advertising Brand Executive have drastically changed. And for the best reasons.

Our clients (especially in the food manufacturing and CPG space) are getting smarter. And it’s because consumers demand it. Price isn’t the single most important factor in choosing a brand anymore. For years, buyers have been on a journey. They’ve traveled from merely caring about the features and benefits of your product to focusing on the problem your product solves. And most recently, consumers are fixated on an organization’s entire process instead of simply focusing on what they produce. 

Creative Energy has been perfecting its brand development process since the company’s inception. While every client’s needs, segments, and budget are different, we take the same approach every time.

  1. Stakeholder Interviews

This is the hard part. We’re asking the tough questions to gather consensus from individuals across your organization. And the results can sometimes hold up a mirror that shows a reflection your team didn’t know was there.

We gather input from Marketing, Sales, Executive Leadership, IT, etc. We ask questions that get to the heart of your company’s belief system. We learn your manufacturing process in and out. We discuss your immediate, mid-term, and long-range aspirations and goals. We spend the majority of our time developing a line of questioning that identifies the key characteristics that make you, you. How are you different from anyone or anything else in the marketplace?

This takes place typically via phone or digital survey format. When organizations take the time to candidly articulate their collective brain trust to an objective third party, monumental discoveries happen.

  1. Brand Workshop

Synthesizing and streamlining feedback from stakeholder interviews is hard, difficult work. Teasing out themes or really poignant statements that make way for a point of differentiation requires a holistic view. This makes up the meat of a brand workshop for our team. We facilitate a healthy, robust discussion with information that has likely never been cataloged before.

Our team also comes to the table with an army of data. We’re analyzing the competitive landscape, we point to an aspirational best in class role model, and we develop an industry roadmap for where your organization and product have historically played, where it currently fits and has the future opportunity to develop in the marketplace. We dig deep into your product lifecycle with subject matter experts from your organization.

The last two parts of the brand workshop are the most fun. We work with your team to settle on 3 brand attributes that communicate the essence of who you are. The stakes are high—everyone must unanimously agree, and you can choose no more than 3. And finally, we get the nitty-gritty on who currently buys your product and who you WANT to buy your product. How old are they? What do they do for a living? What are their hobbies? What’s something no one else knows about them except for you? This information informs our future personas and brand tenets for positioning.

  1. Identity Development

Identity Development is what I think most people assume brand work is. Yes, we’re developing a visual system for your organization to use as a guide for all employees and external communication initiatives. But it’s thoughtful and precise. This can take the shape of naming a new sub-brand or product. Creating a color palette and font treatment. Developing a brand voice and tone for all copywriting. Notating photography and video guidelines. Most often—we’re being tasked with creating a logo, or mark, for an organization’s brand.

Our process isn’t a linear one. We revisit the information we uncovered in stakeholder interviews. We consider what’s happening in your competitive space. We use design best practices and principles on color theory, white space, texture, movement, and weight to communicate with no words. And we center it all under the banner of your personas and brand attributes. It’s really, really hard. But we’ve gotten really, really, good at it.

The output of this part of the brand workshop is a Brand Style & Usage Guide. It is your organization’s bible for what your brand is, what it isn’t, and how to use it. It creates rules that everyone can abide by and centers your team around the visual essence of your WHY.

  1. Customer Testing

Once we create a working logo, name, mission statement, we throw it into the wild to see what survives. We pilot working names and identities with current and prospective customer profiles. What resonates with them? What is memorable? What is differentiated? What do they like, and why?

Again—the benefit of calling upon a third party to do this work for you removes some of the pressure. Your internal team won’t be left out to dry for selling your leadership on a product or brand name that someone might think is offensive or using a logo that looks exactly like a company that sells something completely outside of your industry.

To win market share and create a lifelong cult following, brands must create an emotional connection that is tied into the experience a product provides. Inmeshing a product into the emotional universe of consumers drives intrinsic value. This makes room to rise above the noise of traditional advertising. And THAT translates into real economic value. But how? How can an organization create an emotional connection with a consumer that’s more than just a flippant exercise of a one-time, transactional purchase? They begin with their WHY instead of their WHAT. If you’re ready to work with a partner that can help you find your WHY, let’s chat.