I manufacture brand ideas for a living. But each client that signs me on is only looking for one idea. A brand claim.
A lot goes into that claim. Hours of interviews. Days of observation. Book learning, article reading, blog scouring and research development. There comes a point during all of this discovery when I must start to boil down the learning and gleanings and circle the idea. It’s a little Sherlock Holmes-esque, frankly, with deduction and gut instinct – but it’s the money making part of the business.
So how do 60 pages of typed and mistyped notes, 5 yards of OneNote links, copy, pictures and videos and a brain filled with stories, emotions and competitive brand noise reduce itself to one claim? Via two roads.
Brand planks for me are areas of proof that stand out for a company, product or service — a marriage of “good ats” and “care abouts.” As I go through my material, I find “proofs” and highlight them. Proofs are actions, deeds, activities and results. As these proofs begin to hang together or cluster they become planks. The planks, together, can inform the claim.
The brand brief is the document — actually a serial story — that explains the product, what it does, for whom, and why. When I write the brief I start at the beginning and, like a form, fill out one section before I move to the next. If there is dissonance in this serial story, it needs to be re-cobbled. Only when the story hangs together can I write the final chapter: The claim. Once the claim is created, and once it fits like a glove with the three planks we’re done. Sometimes the planks need adjustment. Sometimes the claim. But it all must fit. It must be easy to understand. Contain sound logic. And a bit of artful poetry in the claim doesn’t hurt.
This is how I come up with a brand strategy. This is how I come up with an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.” Peace.