Your brand strategy is your North Star.
And the most fruitful North Star is one that identifies a customer promise that is big enough to really matter to your customer, while also being narrow enough that your business alone can own it. Selecting this promise is some of the heaviest lifting strategic work that you will do.
And not all moments are right for doing this heavy lifting strategic work.
Pick a moment that is free from a fire drill atmosphere. And then – set the conditions for you to build this brand strategy that can be your North Star for years to come.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for creating your brand strategy:
Do carve off a spacious block of time to dedicate to this exercise.
Do invite a trusted few others to join you, but keep that group small. More than 5 tends to dilute the choice you make.
Do create a plan, a structure, for this exercise, and be crystal clear about your purpose in coming together. You may want to consider engaging a facilitator as well.
Do bring a beginner’s mind. Engage all of your curiosity, openness and humility to this exercise, and model that for your fellow participants.
Do leave your familiar office space. Let your environment signal that this exercise is different. As Winston Churchill said, first you chose your venue, and then that venue chooses which “you” shows up. So, pick an environment that encourages you to be expansive and honest as you select your North Star.
And finally: Do unplug. Set your auto responder, turn off your devices, don’t let there be computers in the room. This is some of the heaviest-lifting strategic work that you’re going to do, so you’re going to need all of the focus and psychological energy that you can bring to this. Set yourself up for that by unplugging.
Here are some DON’Ts for a brand strategy exercise
Don’t cram your agenda. The sole purpose of this exercise is to select your North Star.
Don’t allow distractions, like phones ringing or a noisy environment. Let your environment help you to really sink into this experience.
Don’t invite too many people. Brand strategy does not lend itself to a committee approach, so keep it small.
And finally: Don’t wait for the perfect time. That time will never come.
Do you have a North Star – one that is singular to you, while also expansive enough to guide aspirational growth for years to come?
Remember: there will never be a perfect time to dedicate the time and energy to your brand strategy. But the fruit of this work will be your North Star for years to come. So take the time and attention that this North Star deserves.
Lindsay is a Brand Strategist and Founder of Ironclad Brand Strategy, which builds brands using an exacting and analytic method. Her background as a P&L owner at Clorox fostered a deep appreciation for the executive charge: to create sustainable value. Ironclad advises companies from burgeoning startups to national corporations, including Zulily, IMDb, T-Mobile and Starbucks. Lindsay holds an MBA in Business from the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business.