Overview • As a business owner, you must understand every single nut and bolt of your business and you must be able to relay your business in a streamlined and clear way. Many businesses get up and running without this critical work and they typically fall of the rails down the line without this structure and clarity. By taking your time now to truly consider, define and solidify your business and the operations of your business, you are making the important investment towards your success. #Yes
Exercise • The 20 Question exercise is structured to help you identify, determine and understand your business in a very granular way. Through your answers, you will pinpoint specific elements of your business model, your goals and your operations.
Exercise Goals • To do a super deep dive into the business of your business. The details. The nuts and bolts. The everything. Essentially what are you creating, who are you creating it for, what are your goals.
Exercise Timeline • 1 to 2 hours
This exercise is free form - meaning, your ideas should flow
Just jot down what is inspiring to you during this session but answer all the questions no matter what.
Think about the words that you keep repeating
Use the Style Word Bank below for more inspo
Try not to compare yourself to others as you define your business, rather think about what YOU do as a business, why you YOU are doing it, and how YOU feel about achieving business success
Try not to constrain yourself - allow flow
If you aren't feeling inspired or feel stuck, stop, take a break. Start again when you are feeling the vibe (a glass of wine help! :)
Don't worry about putting this all together just yet. Again, free form is totally fine and very acceptable. Our work during the review will be to refine this together as collaborators.
Any questions? Pls reach out • firstname.lastname@example.org
*We recommend either answering these questions in Google Docs so you can share your answers with us. You can easily copy/paste the questions below. Or you can download the PDF and do some good ole paper to pen.
01 • WHAT DOES YOUR BUSINESS DO FOR PEOPLE?
Every single business provides a solution to a consumer’s challenge. Whether you are selling food at a grocery store because people are hungry, or you offer lessons so a person can learn a new skill, a business’s business is providing help. In the spirit of your new business, what do you offer? How are you helping people? What is their reward for using your company?
02 • WHO IS YOU IDEAL CUSTOMER?
If your business hasn't developed “buyer persona” profiles or robust profiles of your ideal customers, this is the first place to start. Your buyer personas should shape almost every aspect of your brand identity. This is to make sure that your services and messaging around these align with what challenge your client has. Define your ideal customer. Think about the following components of a person and their behavior and influence. We want to paint a very specific profile, so you can build a marketing experience around this person. As you fill this out, remember, this is your Ideal Client (not you! :)
Types of hobbies
Fave blogs/IGs/websites to peruse
Fave TV Shows
Type of vacation(s)
Fave things to do on a weekend
What other details can you add about your Ideal Customer?
03 • WHAT IS YOUR CLIENT’S "LANGUAGE"?
What words and terminology do your customers & clients are using to describe your industry, products, and services? There's a good chance they don't head to Google to search for super specific services but rather the general topic. For example, “custom jewelry in New York” or “interior designer kitchens San Diego”. Let’s work on honing in on what your customers are searching for so we can weave these key words in through your copy.
04 • WHAT SERVICES OR PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER?
Do you know exactly what you are offering? Funny question but would you believe that so many business owners cannot put their own service into words. You 100% need to know this no matter what so let’s get this down on paper. Let’s write down what are you offering by way of service or product. But let’s go deeper. Provide a lot more detail in your answers by sharing your service and product AND THEN what challenge/obstacle/issue/desire you are solving for your customer or client. What are you doing to empower them? Refer to Q1 for this as well.
05 • WHAT'S YOUR BRAND’S STORY?
Brand stories are an important component of branding. This includes both your literal history -- such as how and why you were founded -- and the story of the role you play in your customer's life. Your brand's story should ultimately make your customer a hero. Perhaps you're able to make them more effective at their jobs, so they receive tons of compliments from their boss. Maybe your design savvy helps them to feel more confident in their daily lives, etc. This story can be an important basis for your brand identity and marketing content.
06 • WHAT PAIN POINTS DO YOU SOLVE?
Your customers don't start looking for your company because their lives are perfect. Rather you offer a product or service that will solve a problem. Maybe you offer interior design services, and they need help with their new home. Or maybe you create and manufacture a new line of custom bathing suits, and they're tired of shopping at big box clothing stores. Perhaps you organize spaces, and they need help with an overload of things in their current space. Your customers need you because of an existing pain point, or problem. Your brand identity should instantly communicate how you solve these problems. Expanding from Q1, do you offer peace of mind? Workplace efficiency? A confident day at the pool? Regardless of how your brand connects with your customers, your ability to solve problems should be at the core of your brand identity.
07 • WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?
Without a purpose, it’s really hard to unite people around your cause, your offer, your service. Think about the very root problem that you are solving and try to discuss that with as few buzzwords as possible. Take Starbucks. They are sell coffee and treats. Here is their brand purpose: “To Inspire and Nurture the Human Spirit One Person, One Cup and One Neighborhood at a Time” Did you notice that they never used the word coffee.
08 • WHAT IS YOUR POSITION?
What is the fundamental idea that you “own” in the consumer’s mind? Meaning, what do you want to be “known” for? Maybe you want to be known for a certain style of work or the best price in town? Sure, this is about your service, product and pricing but it is also really about your brand.
09 • WHAT IS YOUR PROMISE?
What is the value that you promise to deliver to the consumer? Think of this as the core benefit to using your service or product. What is a potential client or customers reward for working with you? Maybe you promise excellent communication in your messaging. If so, a client will walk away with a feeling of complete understanding of your process.
10 • WHAT ARE YOUR CORE VALUES?
What make the new business that you are creating feel more than just a job? It is the values that you have defined (and will follow!). Your company’s core values tell the world what you are about. They give you a visual road map to success as well as your customers a reason to cheer for you. What do you personally believe in that is translated through the lens of your brand? And how can this be interpreted through to the customer and client experience? Make a list of your core values, or beliefs. This will be your company foundation and philosophy.
11 • WHAT KIND OF BRAND PERSONALITY DO YOU HAVE?
A strong, well-defined personality instantly win some likability points because customers are able to relate to them on a personal level. Human personalities are rarely single-faceted. Brand personalities shouldn't be, either. When you are in the beginning stages of defining your personality, it may be helpful to think in terms of archetypes. Here are a few household brands and associated personality archetypes that we know them by:
· Apple: Rebel
· Taco Bell: Jester
· REI: Outdoors-lover
· Target: Bold
8A • ADJECTIVE LIST | SELECT UP TO FIVE THAT YOU FEEL REPRESENT YOUR BRAND PERSONALITY
12 • HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR CLIENTS FEEL?
When your most satisfied new customers communicate with your sales or account management team, what do they have to say? Listening to the interactions of new, satisfied customers can reveal a wealth of information about how you make your customers feel. Do they express relief? Inspiration? New-found energy? Perhaps you are just starting out. What do you envision your “client” (from Q1) saying? The most frequent positive emotion your customers and clients associate with your company is critical information for building a brand identity.
13 • HOW DO YOU INTERACT WITH CUSTOMERS?
The voice you use to interact with customers via social media and content marketing is an extension of your brand voice. Are you humorous, or straight-to-the-point? Do you respond to questions with experience, or links to peer-reviewed studies? Your brand guidelines should include instruction for social media and customer interactions, in order to deliver a consistent brand experience.
14 • WHAT DOES YOUR IDEAL TESTIMONIAL LOOK LIKE?
It’s so hard to talk about ourselves but this question is the perfect opportunity (and time!) to give this a shot. Take some time to think about your ideal customer. (Remember him or her all the way up at the top of this exercise in Q2?) What would your ideal kudos from them look like? Would it be about your service? Your style? Your personality? Your management processes? Your effectiveness? Your timeliness? Your expertise? Of course, all of these things are fantastic but let’s pick one or two that, based on all of the above work, aligns best with your brand and business goals. Now write the testimonial from said Ideal Customer. This is probably not the easiest thing to do but definitely try it. It will certainly give you a good perspective - and reminder – about what your goals are and how great it will feel when you accomplish them.
15 • WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION?
Competitive analysis can be a helpful first step towards developing any marketing strategy. Brand identity is no exception. The branding lessons you can glean from your competitors can vary significantly according to your industry, and the level of competition you're facing. Your competitors could be textbook examples of poorly-defined brand identity. They may have little-to-no voice consistency across digital mediums, and a logo that's unoriginal. Perhaps they have an excellent brand identity that's memorable, unique, and incredibly easy to like. Regardless of where your competitors stand, use their statuses as a starting place for creating a brand identity that's objectively better.
16 • HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT?
What does your brand offer that your competitors can't? Perhaps, and more importantly, how can you communicate this in your brand identity? For example, Whole Foods is one of the most visible and well-known organic grocery chains. Their difference is communicated clearly in the brand's logo, which is green and includes a leaf. It is important to note that simply being different isn't enough, you need to actually deliver a difference. This means actively carving out a niche, and continually playing to your strengths. Anyone who's shopped at Whole Foods knows the grocery chain isn't trying to compete on price. In order for Whole foods to maintain their "niche" of fresh, local, and specialty foods items, they can't compete on price - and considering their brand identity, that's perfectly fine.
17 • WHY DO YOUR (OR WHY WILL YOUR) CLIENTS TRUST YOU?
Conducting customer interviews or talking to your sales team can be an important tool for learning why your customers ultimately pick your company. If you are not up and running just yet, consider the qualities you hope clients and customers will define you by when it comes to trust and care. The factor that leads to prospect trust and customer conversions can provide important clues to your brand identity. Your company's unique trust factor could be, for example, transparency, expertise, flexibility. Use this "trust factor" as an important tool for defining why your brand is different and building an appealing brand identity.
18 • WHAT BRANDS DO YOU ADMIRE & WHY?
You don't need to look towards brands with similar products, services or customers. Developing a list of brands that you admire can offer various types of lessons that can be helpful. Perhaps you admire Boxed Water for their values-forward branding and minimalist aesthetic. Maybe you're a huge fan of Zappos for their intense focus on company culture and customer service. These concepts can be translated to companies in a different sector. Make a list of at least three brands that you admire and why. Is it their service? Their packaging? Their longevity? Try to get in the weeds with this one and really think about why.
19 • HOW DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO FEEL WHEN THEY SEE YOUR WORK, YOUR STYLE, YOUR LOGO?
A picture is worth a thousand words and, as we move into your brand build, we will develop a visual style round your brand voice. To begin this, think about the assets that you will be public-facing the most – your logo and your select work. How do you want people to feel when they see this? What one word comes to mind that you hope translates to potential clients? For example, Sophisticated. Creative. Expert. Glamourous. Etc.
20 • FINAL WRAP QUESTIONS • WHAT ARE YOUR BUSINESS GOALS & HOW DO YOU WANT TO MEASURE THEM?