Richard Smith: Retail Interior Visual

Making time for a brand strategy workshop can certainly seem like a pressure when planning to undertake any brand development work. One of the biggest objections we often get is “how long is it going to take?”. We get it you’re busy, but until you start making time for your brand and building clarity it’s likely that the communication and ideas in your head are really quite blurred and not as clear or concise as you may think.

A brand strategy workshop is typically where business owners, leaders and key personnel work collaboratively to define the core brand elements. Throughout the workshop, tasks will be facilitated by a brand strategist or brand consultant that help to align everyone on the following:

  • brand purpose
  • brand vision
  • brand positioning
  • brand voice
  • brand values
  • brand personality
  • brand DNA
  • target audience

All of these brand attributes help to determine the brand’s personality and are integral to the brand building process. To establish a cohesive brand identity and consistently communicate your brand across all channels (online and offline) everyone must be aligned on the company objectives and have clarity to what the brand stands for and how the brand strategy will underpin the business growth and success.

Why is it important to have a well defined brand strategy?

Your brand strategy will directly impact the longer term growth and success of your business. Having a well defined brand strategy will enable you to consistently communicate your brand verbally and visually. Delivering a consistent brand image is critical if you wish to build trust and recognition with your customers. A good branding strategy will help transform new customers into returning customers and ultimately impact business growth. Your brand strategy will help to establish trust and credibility with your target audience when your verbal and visual brand design communication is consistent.

A brand strategist or brand consultant can help you with your branding strategy and often the best starting place is with a brand workshop. The workshop environment is a great way for teams to collaborate and creatively align and overcome brand and business challenges.

Brand Strategy Workshop Template Insights

Understanding the brand challenge

Putting our experience to one side for a moment, which entails working with key decision makers, founders and co-founders on a regular basis. The key thing is, that as human’s it is impossible to self edit.

Even whilst i am writing this article I am constantly trying to hold back on ideas and thoughts and consciously keep editing and editing in an attempt to continually refine the message. The reality though; its hard and as a business owner and founder I too seek the help of other professionals to help with this issue.

A key example of this is when you get the opportunity to speak in front of an audience.
It doesn’t matter if this is big or small but we all have the same feelings.

Take the following:

  • a good shot of adrenaline most probably mixed with some nerves,
  • something you are extremely passionate about,
  • an audience willing to listen

and the natural human response is ‘TELL THEM EVERYTHING!’ Its like something takes over your ability to speak in short and concise sentences. Trust me when I say it seems impossible to stop yourself from just giving that little bit more detail.

At Grey Coffee we always use the term ‘understanding the challenge’ because for many brands it is exactly that. As business owners we believe we have full clarity on our brand, what we do, how we do it and why people should care. However, when faced with some of these questions we have seen many founders, co-founders, CMO’s (Inc key decision makers) get really tongue tied and sometimes lost for words.

First impressions are always the most important and really interesting for us when observing any new brand strategy client. It is great to interact and have such dialogue but it is also fascinating when comparing the results between 3 or 4 different team members. For brands that have total clarity on their positioning and purpose you’d expect that these responses would be very well aligned. For many however that is not the case.

What are the benefits of a brand strategy workshop?

There are many benefits from a branding workshop. One of the key issues often within a business or company is that not everyone is on the same page. Aligning the team can be a crucial outcome of a workshop. Branding workshops can help with customer engagement and loyalty as we start to explore things such as;

  • Brand Core
  • Brand Communication
  • Brand Persona
  • Brand Voice
  • Brand Vision
  • Brand Identity
  • Brand Messaging
  • Brand Positioning Strategy
  • Brand Tagline
  • Brand Promise
  • Brand Values
  • Target Audience

Your brand persona is made up of all these core elements and quite often when we get everyone together, it is clear that one of the key business challenges is that there isn’t any clarity on these attributes amongst the team.

Understanding the competitive landscape is a crucial outcome of the strategy workshop. The strategy session looks to determine key business goals and in doing so it challenges us to ensure the brand strategy and brand positioning is optimal to achieve such goals.

We answer questions such as;

  • Who is the ideal customer or target customer?
  • What is our unique selling proposition?
  • Is our brand uniquely positioned for our ideal customers?
  • How will we measure success?
  • How do we build an authentic brand that delivers on the promises we make to our customers?
  • How do we build a more human brand persona?

Preparing for a brand strategy workshop

Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to prepare for a brand strategy workshop. If you wish to build a successful brand then before the workshop it is really important to set some clear objectives. Identifying any business or brand challenges will really help to get the most out of your strategy session.

It is not uncommon for some of the businesses we engage with to carry out some market analysis and market research prior to undertaking a workshop. This can either be carried out by the client directly themselves or in other cases we are instructed to do this on their behalf.

For any established businesses that we work with, its clear that quite some time has passed since they first launched the brand and business. Thinking about what the brand represents and why you started it in the first instance will help provide clarity and context as to what problems you can solve as a brand and business. We often find there are great story telling opportunities that are usually missed and often only uncovered as part of our branding workshop.

Identify key team members for the strategy workshop. I can’t stress how important it is to bring together the right team in order for us to deliver an effective branding workshop. Depending on your company size there should be a good cross section of your team actively involved with the strategy workshop. This can range from business leaders to members of your sales team, marketing, operations and naturally any key decision makers. Its important to note that when defining such important aspects of your brand like the brand’s purpose, value proposition and core values its mission critical that there is a key decision maker actively involved in the workshop that can make important brand decisions that will impact the business.

How do we deliver a brand strategy workshop?

At Grey Coffee we use brand strategy to help set the longer term ambitions of your brand through brand planning, thinking and implementation. Having total clarity around your brand will give you the foundation you need to present and communicate your brand consistently to your desired community or audience.

Brand strategy workshops are a great way to get your team aligned and work through some of the biggest challenges you face as a brand. They are designed to be collaborative sessions and a facilitator or brand consultant (like us) will help to really define why your brand exists. The key here is that we are able to take a position outside of your company i.e. we are viewing this from the outside looking in. Our vision and perceptions are not shaped in the same way as someone within your company. We can highlight areas that are confused or where messages are blurred or inconsistent. We can positively challenge you to make sure that we all share the same brand’s values and ideas when it comes to your brand persona but also ensure the brand positioning and brand strategy aligns with your future goals and ambitions.

Brand Strategy: Simon Sineks Golden Circle

How to run brand strategy workshops

To run a brand strategy workshop you are going to need the following:

Identify the core team members to attend the strategy workshop – This has to consist of key decision makers and if your business is built up of a founder or co-founder partnership then they must be in attendance.

Decide where you will run your brand strategy workshop (we have done all of ours online since the COVID pandemic) but if guidance permits then doing these in person would definitely be the preferred method.

Make sure you set out the key challenges of the strategy workshop. If you have ever run a design sprint this format can work really well for a brand workshop. If you haven’t run a design sprint then don’t worry the key thing is to create a workshop environment and make sure that you have a key focus and objectives for the brand strategy workshop.

Decide on an amount of time you can commit to the brand strategy workshop. Then, break that time down into smaller chunks so that you don’t hit a wall and fatigue after 2 – 3 hours. At Grey Coffee we always run our brand workshops over a set amount of time and ensure that the time is broken down into smaller more manageable chunks.

If you are new to Brand Strategy then you may want to consider downloading our Free Brand Strategy template which you can download here – Free Brand Strategy Template – This will help to provide you with some structure and ensure you cover the key elements of your brand strategy.

Finally, adopt a sprint ethos – use post it notes as it will help keep your answers concise, make sure you work against the clock and all distractions(notifications) must be switched off. No mobiles, or laptops and anything else which may turn your attention from the brand workshop. This rule is non negotiable but we do understand that you may need to take an important call. If this is the case then we simply ask to step outside so it doesn’t disrupt the rest of the team actively participating in the branding workshop.

What are the key elements of a brand strategy?

The key elements that make up a brand strategy are as follows; Naturally all of these elements combined make up your brand DNA and brand persona. Carrying out a brand strategy workshop will ensure that you and your team have complete clarity on …

  • Brand vision (vision statement), Brand purpose, mission and brand values
  • Brand Core
  • Brand positioning
  • Target audience
  • Competitive analysis
  • Brand personality and tone of voice
  • Brand messaging and tagline
  • Brand architecture
  • Brand Communication

A branding workshop is one of the first steps you can take which will ultimately hep you to build a successful brand. Strategic brands don’t just happen by chance, typically a brand strategist will work with brands and businesses to provide strategic direction and help the business build a brand that is uniquely positioned for their target audience.

In order to build and develop a brand core that will provide the foundation of business growth it can be helpful to work with a brand strategist that will help you to understand how to build a brand that is going to impact business growth.

Still wondering if a branding workshop can really help your business overcome the challenges you face as a brand? At Grey Coffee we offer a number of brand services from brand consultancy to facilitating brand workshops for your business.

Some other key points to note

This isn’t a tick box exercise strategic brands work hard to find clarity and ensure that everyone is agreed on the brand vision and how it can impact business success. A branding workshop will help you if any of these apply to you;

  • You wish to develop a brand strategy for your business
  • You want to improve your brand persona
  • You need to refine your brand tone of voice
  • Brand positioning is an issue for your business
  • You need to more clearly determine your brand values
  • You want to develop your brand to help achieve your business goals
  • You want to re-brand or develop a new brand identity
  • Your brand isn’t positioned for your target customers
  • You have the desire to build a bigger brand personality & character
  • Your brand core is inconsistent and lacks strategic direction
  • You want to launch a strong brand with a clear brand strategy
  • You wish to develop meaningful relationships through your brand with your target audience
  • It’s unclear why your brand exists
  • You want to improve your overall brand communication and develop a memorable tagline
  • You are unsure about your brand’s identity, vision statement and brand purpose
  • You wish to develop a successful brand that drives human connection
  • You don’t know how to run a brand strategy session or workshop
  • You want to determine the differences between your internal brand and external brand strategy
  • You want to build a brand that out performs direct competitors
  • You wish to develop your brand to perform better and gain a larger market share
  • Your brand voice is inconsistent and doesn’t reflect your brands personality
  • Your brand doesn’t seem to connect with your target audience
  • You require external feedback on your brand performance from someone that is not directly employed within your business – like a brand strategist for example.
  • Your brand’s purpose and value proposition are conflicted and not consistent

Brand Resources

Where relevant we also like to supply our clients with a link to Simon Sinek’s ‘start with why’ Ted Talk. This is a fantastic resource and introduction to brand thinking. If you’ve not seen it then it is always a good place to start as it will lead you in the right direction in preparation for a brand workshop.

To conclude, a brand strategy workshop is about delivering a strategic process which will help to form the key foundations of your brand core. It’s intended to be challenging and you should come away from a workshop with total clarity. There should be no questions regarding your brand personality, brand voice, brand values, brand purpose and therefore you should have all the tools to build a cohesive brand. Armed with the ability and competitive edge to consistently communicate your brand verbally and visually across all touch-points. Having such brand clarity will enable your brand to grow, achieve your business goals and connect with your primary customer.

I’ll leave you with this thought.

All brands seek long lasting relationships with their customers.
Customer loyalty can only be achieved by brands that provide ‘consistent’ brand experiences.

At the heart of consistency lives trust, credibility and clarity of communication.

Further Reading & Brand Services

What is a brand consultant? 
Why is branding important?
Best branding books and brand authors
Free brand strategy template
What is brand strategy? The Ultimate Guide!
Brand Communication Strategy
Brand Values: A guide to help B2B and B2C businesses define their brand values
Brand Consultants – Want to know more about how we can help your brand grow
Brand Identity Design  – Need to rebrand or design a new identity for a product or business?
Looking for a brand specialist? (Stop looking you’ve found us!)
Want to run a brand workshop? (we do that too!)

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