Here you are with a great idea for an amazing product. You know what your product does, how it compares to others, and what value it will bring to your future customers. But how do you build a strong brand that conveys all these characteristics under one seamless umbrella and effectively communicates who you are to future customers and employees?
David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising,” has said that “You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.” And it’s even truer today in fast-paced industries: most of your assets can be copied, but what about your brand?
Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.
It’s critical to define a strong brand before launching your product, and that’s why I want to introduce you to the Brand Strategy Canvas .
Very similar to the Business Model Canvas, you will be guided through a structured journey that intends to be iterative and collaborative. The result will be a unique and actionable brand positioning statement (see below).
Aligning the vision and the voice
Just print a few copies on a big sheet of paper and get started. I don’t recommend working on a digital copy because it’s too easy to erase, edit and retype. On paper, you’ll be able to see your scratches and it will force you to iterate to have neat and clean messaging.
Whether you’re working on an existing product/company or building a new one, I recommend asking each of your colleagues to take an hour to fill out the Brand Canvas. You can then meetup and compare your statements. You will be surprised how the vision of what you are building differs from individual to individual. This is a great tool to start a discussion around aligning both the product vision and the way you talk about it.
If you work on your own, try to iterate at least three times. Start with a very detailed canvas and force yourself to remove elements during each new iteration. This will allow you to have a much more focused brand positioning statement – often something that we lack when we’re getting started.
Start with a very detailed canvas and force yourself to remove elements during each new iteration.
For every point, you just have to reply to a few questions about your product/company and write it down on the canvas. You then compile it into a statement that, once set in stone, should be the reference point for how you will implement your brand: creating a name, a logo, a tone of voice, and how you communicate who you are and what you do.
The good points
Personally, what I found the most interesting in this canvas was the emotional benefits section. This is where you observe how you feel about one brand compared to another, or how you compare similar products from different competitors (Starbucks is serving people not coffee; Harley is giving you freedom, not a motorcycle; Coca-Cola is sharing happiness, not a soda). Remember: people are loyal to brands, not companies. We take this for granted but we shouldn’t!
The very structured approach – a checklist of questions to establish the brand – also makes it quick and easy to capture only the essentials. We’re all short on time, so sometimes there’s no need for long research or complicated brainstorms.
The Brand Canvas can also be applied to your company, not just your product. And very often in the early stage of a startup, your only product equals your brand. Therefore it’s very important to go through this exercise!
The iterative nature of the canvas makes it easy to refine and focus on the essentials keeping everything dead simple.
Finally, the iterative nature of the canvas makes it easy to refine and focus on the essentials, keeping everything about your brand very clear and dead simple.
If you’re interested in a much deeper presentation about the framework, feel free to watch this 45min video from the people who created the canvas: https://vimeo.com/112098978
That’s all folks!