Outlaw or lover? The Elements of Brand Planning

Building the foundation of smart marketing.

When we onboard clients for brand planning projects, we nearly always start with a basic question: “If someone stopped you in an elevator and asked what makes your company unique in the market, could you say it in 12 words or less?” The answer is almost always no.

We call this important sentence a brand position statement. And the importance of creating and codifying one–and the brand elements that surround it– are often overlooked. This is amplified in the tech industry where companies often offer products or services similar to their competitors, or when their tech is complicated and difficult to express. But even these companies should be able to convey their unique value in the market in an organized and concise way. If not, they risk defaulting to prayer-and-a-wish marketing or competing on price, and that’s rarely a winning formula for success.

So, how do we help clients land on an effective brand position statement?

We do it with Brand Planning, an investigative process–part research, part divining– where we help companies identify and codify several important and foundational brand elements. The benchmark elements in our brand plans include a brand archetype, a brand position statement, unique value propositions, competitor SWOT analysis, and audience segmentation (and their motivators). Below is a description of each element:

Five Essential Elements of Brand Planning

Brand Archetype: Using inspiration from Carl Jung’s model, and research, we help clients discover and settle on one of 12 archetypes (aka personas) that reflect the best of who they are now, and who they want to be in the next few years. This is where you determine if your company is an outlaw (Harley Davidson), a lover (Godiva), a ruler (American Express), a jester (Snickers) or something else.

Brand Position Statement: This is the concise statement I mentioned above that helps a company occupy a distinct place in the customer’s mind. We find it works best when it’s 12 words or less. When you have one, every piece of marketing trues back to it.

Unique value propositions: If your company offers something that no one else does, identifying your UVPs is much easier. The challenge lies when other companies offer something similar to yours, which happens to be 90% of the market. That’s when you need to really dive in and find the stuff you can own–or at the least–express better than the competition.

Competitor SWOT analysis: Have you ever systematically documented what your competitors do and don’t do? I mean really mapped it? If not, you should. By breaking down their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you’ll better leverage your company’s opportunities to embrace and the challenges to avoid.

Audience segmentation: You might think you know who your customers are and what they really want, but until you ask them–as well as the people who choose not to do business with your company–you’re probably embracing a few incorrect assumptions and missing opportunities.

This isn’t everything we include in our brand plans at Duft Watterson. Once we codify the above elements, we often dive into user interface audits, market assessments and brand language conventions that help us chart a path forward. This makes it much easier to confidently move forward with marketing and advertising campaigns that actually work.