Walk Your Own Path – Brand Footprints

Published Thursday, February 20, 2014

I got this idea taught to me when I worked with the amazing Keith Fowler a few years back… I have modified it quite a bit and improved it to be used on almost anything… Its an old  advertising tool to help define brands… It can be used for anything including people, companies, bands, products, media channels, books… hey, almost anything…

Ok, the objective of the exercise is to generate a “brand footprint” that you will use this going forward to keep your identity focused and consistent which is important if you want to be known for something.

Before you start the exercise you need to write down your objective(s) and bench marks of success or achievement (like 10000 hits on YouTube or making a profit of x amount by some date or doing a certain number of sales etc) and most important you need the stake holders (decision makers on the product/brand) to all agree to what is written down, only then its worth going forward.

1 – You need to have every decision maker on the project and anyone else who you feel will come up with original thoughts on the idea especially if they differ from yours… keep it to a min of 4 and a max of 7 people… get everyone in a room with a white board or big screen… you need a clear three hours of uninterrupted commitment from who ever is there with mobiles off, snacks and soft drinks and smokables etc easily available… you, (assuming you are the leader) give a brief overview of the project and its objectives just to remind everyone and get them on the same page… then you ask for a no holds barred free flow of single word or hyphenated phrase thoughts that come to your and your teams mind’s… write EVERY one down, leave none out, this is not the time for editing, that comes later so get every bit of vomited matter out of everyone and write it all down on the white board or screen… you may end up with 30 or 300 thoughts but when you are finished and you will know when you are, leave the room and take a break of at least an hour and don’t talk about the project…

2 – Come back to the room and sit down… now the important thing to get in to everyone’s heads is that now no one owns any of the work on the board now, there is no individual credit, its a group creation, this is very important so that everyone can be objective, egos should have been deposited at the door… now you start deleting words one by one on a group or majority vote, if anyone feels strongly about keeping a word leave it and move on, you can re visit it later so don’t worry… discus the implications and associations of a thought, remember, the people who come in to contact with your product or any parts of your product will only see who you are and not who you are not, this is important, no one says “he was not a tall man” the say “he is a short man”, get it?… you need to end up with no more than 6 no less than 3 key thoughts… These are your brand attributes from now on…

3 – For each word you have ended up with make a short list of words that define or “endorse” the word and shall refine the meaning you want from it… then make another short list of words that oppose the word… this will help in clarifying the brand identity and also allow you to bring back some of the deleted words from the list, that’s why I said to write everything down…

Well, what you have now is your filter… I would be very surprise if you don’t get a name for the product (if you don’t already have one) from the session but if you don’t at least you will know what you were looking for once you find it…