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5 Questions to ask when Building Your Brand

A solid brand identity can be a huge competitive advantage. Think about your favorite brands. Do you feel like they “get” you? Do you love what they stand for? You want your business to create that kind of connection.

Your brand identity is more than a logo. It is the perception your customers have about your business. The most successful businesses make sure they are clear on their why, values and purpose, so that they can align with their customers' wants and needs.

In this blog, I’ll give you a sneak peek into five of the questions included on my “Brand Discovery Questionnaire.” I send a questionnaire out at the beginning of every branding project to help me get to know the business, its founders, and their goals.

I’ll be featuring three clients, Scrap-It Waste Management, FIRE Physical Therapy and Everest Autism Learning Center, to help highlight real-world answers to these questions, including the insights learned from their answers.

5 questions I ask my clients at the start of every branding project:

1. What is the meaning/story behind your business name?

Why is this question important?

If there is significance or a link to a personal story, this can be a very compelling foundation for your branding. Ideal clients/customers love a good story and so do designers! Stories drive branding! Client Example: Scrap-It Waste Management requested that they have a goat in their logo who they lovingly names “Scrappy.” Goats have an infamous reputation for eating anything and everything in sight. This aligned well with Scrap-it’s trash removal services, plus it reinforced their Scrappy work ethic.

2. What is your business purpose? (Your why, how and what)

Why is this question important?

This may be the hardest question you have to answer. It feels daunting, but if you don’t have a clear vision of why you’re doing what you’re doing, you won’t be able to portray that vision to your customers. Try to sum up the goals and mission of your business in a few, succinct phrases. Include what your business has to offer and how your customers or clients benefit from your service or product. Client Example:

Everest Autism Learning Center came to me with a very clear vision of their purpose. Here’s how they answered this question:

We will (WHAT) provide ABA therapy through a (HOW)one-on-one therapist to client model to teach developmental and life skills needed for the child to achieve their highest potential. Through verbal behavior, reinforcement, modeling, and prompting techniques, we will (WHY) help children with ASD overcome the deficits between them and their neurotypical peers.

3. Describe your ideal client and what they care about most?

Why is this question important?

Knowing the ideal clients/customers you want to attract is crucial to ensure that you’re building a brand that matters to them. Knowing how your values align with your ideal client and what they care about will help make sure you are targeting them and always keeping them in mind.

A brand that appeals to a mid-50s male, executive vs an early-20s female, college student looks very different. The more specific you can get about your ideal customer the better! Client Example: FIRE Physical Therapy answered that her ideal patients are people in their 30-40’s, middle to upper class with chronic or acute issues that are keeping them from enjoying their active lifestyles.

What I’m able to assess from this is that her branding needs to be gender-neutral, professional, optimistic and empowering. The brand should have a higher-end feel to match the quality of care and price point. These patients are not budget shoppers.

4. What impact do you hope to make on your ideal client before, during and after working with you?

Why is this question important?

This is one of my favorite questions because it really gets to the root of how you plan to make your clients' or customers' lives better. This is where you really get to the core benefit of your services or product. Do you want to make your clients feel relieved because you made something stressful easy and carefree, does your product bring joy into their lives, does it empower them to take action, etc. Client Example: Everest Autism Learning center's answer:

At the beginning of the process, we want clients and their families to feel hopeful. During the process, we hope they are dedicated and loyal to the brand and process so that they become engaged in helping their child reach their highest potential. After the process, we want the family and clients to feel motivated to advocate for their children in all areas of life and able to support them in continuing to develop any skills going forward. We also want them to remember us should they need services again.

5. When you close your eyes and visualize your brand, what do you see?

Why is this question important?

This is where you really get to dream. The sky is the limit. You can take this question as literally or figuratively as you’d like. I’m looking for colors, imagery, feelings, words, symbols, etc. This helps brand designers know if you have any preconceived ideas about how you’d like your brand to look.

It is important to understand that this doesn’t always mean your brand will end up looking exactly like you envisioned. Sometimes what we have in our heads, what would appeal to your ideal customer and what tells the brand story best, don’t match. We need to separate our own likes and dislikes from what is best for the brand. I do, however, love this question because I often get valuable insight into imagery, colors and aesthetics while making sure that myself and the client have the same vision for the brand. Client Example: Everest’s owners requested a bright, hopeful, clean logo featuring mountains. Their vision was in line with their chosen brand name “Everest,” as well as, their brand’s aim “to help children reach their highest potential.”


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