Branding Workshop

[The Definitive Guide]

When it comes to developing brand strategies, the branding workshop is the ultimate collaborative experience.

Bringing the brand leadership team and the brand strategist together in an environment of teamwork and creativity this session is the birthplace of many of today’s modern brands.

But what exactly happens in the branding workshop?

What’s the agenda, what are the goals and how exactly do you go about running one?

We cover all this and more in this Definitive Branding Workshop article.

When it comes to developing brand strategies, the branding workshop is the ultimate collaborative experience.

Bringing the brand leadership team and the brand strategist together in an environment of teamwork and creativity this session is the birthplace of many of today’s modern brands.

But what exactly happens in the branding workshop?

What’s the agenda, what are the goals and how exactly do you go about running one?

We cover all this and more in this Definitive Branding Workshop article.

What Is A Brand Strategy Workshop?

branding workshop meeting

Like many terms in branding and marketing, the term “Branding Workshop” is used interchangeably with terms such as

Brand Workshop

Brand Strategy Session

Discovery Session

Strategy Workshop

Depending on the branding agency or branding consultant offering the services, these terms are often used as one and the same thing or with variations in the processes.

But let’s start off with a bit of simplicity and clarity so we’re all facing north.

The Branding Workshop is a meeting between the key business leaders and the brand strategist, to collaborate and develop the foundation and strategic direction for the brand.

The Goal Of The Strategy Workshop

There are a number of outcomes the branding workshop aims to achieve, though the collaborative and creative environment is as important to the process as the outcome itself.

The key distinction here is in the term “Collaboration”.

While brands are often developed in a number of ways, the workshop environment is designed to extract ideas, opinions, and creative expression from the leadership team so they are entrenched in the brand-building process and feel connected to the brand will lead.

Here are the objectives of the brand strategy workshop:

Goal 1:
Extract Leadership Perspective

branding workshop coach

It’s critical that the leadership team have a sense of ownership and connection to the brand they’re building and the brand they intent to lead to success.

Extracting the thoughts and ideas from the leaders early on is a critical step in the development of an aligned brand.

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Goal 2:
Guide The Leadership To Cohesion

branding workshop teamwork

Often, brand leaders have differences of opinions whether it’s related to strategic direction, positioning or even the identity style.

The collaborative environment of the branding workshop is designed to bring the team together, draw on each other’s opinion and ideas and agree on what the brand should mean.

This is often where the brand strategists’ people management skills come to the fore.

Goal 3:
Define Beliefs & Values

branding workshop direction

One of the first and most effective exercises of the strategy session in defining the “why” behind the brand.

This exercise forces the leadership team to look beyond the monetary or commercial interest of the business and brand, to find a higher purpose for why the brand exists and why they do what they do.

If executed well, this section of the workshop can quickly get everyone pulling in the same direction behind the same reason for being.

Goal 4:
Set The Strategic Direction

branding workshop mapping

One of the most critical goals of the workshop is to plot a direction on the map that the brand should head.

Depending on the systems and processes of the strategist, the entire positioning strategy could be defined within this meeting or the outcome could simply be ideas of general direction, which can be refined later into a distinct differentiation strategy.

Goal 5:
Gather The Necessary Information

branding workshop research

During the brand strategy workshop, it’s important that no stone is left unturned in defining the meaning and direction of the brand.

This process cannot be skimmed over with a handful of questionnaire questions, as this approach will fail to achieve the ultimate goal of the workshop, which is the collaborative development of the strategic brand.

Although further work will be completed away from the workshop environment, this work will be predicated on the information gathered within the strategy session.

How Long Does A Branding Workshop Take?

branding workshop hourglass

A branding workshop can be a highly detailed session spanning days or it could be conducted in a few hours.

This is usually determined by a number of factors including

The Position Of The Brand Strategist

The Processes Of The Brand Strategist

The Size Of The Clients

The Budget Of The Clients

The Scope Of The Project

The Workshop Agenda

It’s worth noting here that there is no one way that is determined as “best practice”.

The branding industry and the players within it are creative by nature as are their processes and approaches to building the strategic brands they build for their clients.

If you’re building your own branding business, the ball will be firmly in your court as to how you conduct your sessions.

But let this sense of creativity free your mind from the idea that the branding workshop is built upon a rigid structure.

What Does A Branding Workshop Agenda Include?

branding workshop agenda

There are many strategic elements that must be developed to ensure an aligned brand.

A discussion about each of the following sections is a minimum though a highly detailed and collaborative workshop may aim to develop out each element in the room.

It’s worth noting however, that although the foundation and skeleton of the brand is developed within this session, much of the detail is completed is the post-workshop phase.

Flag The Starting Point

Before you can define a desired destination, it’s important to plant a flag in the ground as to where the brand currently is.

This discussion revolves around an understanding of how things are now, what the business or brand is achieving and what the challenges and problems are that need to be addressed.

Define Your Goals And Objectives

branding workshop goals

Before any work begins on developing the brand, the group must have clarity on the objectives of the workshop, the project and the overall brand.

Having a clearly defined goal for the workshop helps to keep the sessions focused while the project and brand objectives are used later as a yardstick for measuring success.

The Internal Brand

branding workshop internal works

Any entrepreneur worth their salt has heard of the terms Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values.

Though many business owners draft up a statement for each, few are truly connected to the meaning and importance behind each.

Getting deep into the “Why” behind the brand is not just important for the workshop, it’s critical to the foundations of the entire brand.

The Audience Personas

branding workshop emotion

This is often one of the most enlightening sections of the workshop for the leadership team because they’ve often spent a lot of time trying to appeal to someone they didn’t have clarity on.

In this section, fictional characters are created to represent the typical buyers in order to understand their personality, what they want and how they feel.

By developing realistic personas with names and faces, the leadership team can begin to develop a real connection with who their brand is trying to appeal to.

The Competitors

branding workshop competitor

The business leaders will likely have an informed understanding and opinion of their competitors though the brand strategist should encourage the group to look beyond the obvious players at other brands serving their audience.

Drawing out the competitor’s strengths and more specifically their weaknesses can open up ideas, opinions and discussions about where the opportunities lie which often gets the collaboration and creative juices flowing.

The Positioning Strategy

branding workshop strategy

This is without a doubt the most critical stage of the branding workshop as it defines the new direction for the brand.

Flowing out from the discussion about the competition, the gaps and opportunities, the group (led by the strategist) must take these initial raw ideas and develop them into a clear and distinct differentiation strategy for the brand.

It’s critical that the group is on the same page about the strategic direction as the brand building process from this point on hinges on that difference.

The Brand Archetype

brand workshop archetype profile

With a focus on appealing to the collective audience and their shared desires and characteristics, this section of the workshop sets in place the foundation for the brand personality development.

Using the archetype framework, the group sets out the personality type or mix of personality types that will best represent the brand and resonate with who the audience is.

The Brand Personality

brand workshop personality

Using the brand archetype or archetypal mix, the group can begin to develop out the personality of the brand using characteristics and keywords to bring the brand persona to life visually.

Moodboards and image collages allow the group to put a hypothetical face to their brand providing clarity in who they are and how the might behave.

The Brand Voice

Once again, using the understanding of the audience and with the advantageous position of having a defined personality, the group can begin to uncover how the brand will communicate.

The language the brand will use and the tone of voice with which it will deliver its message is the cherry on the top of a human brand persona that now begins to feel like a real person.

The Brand Message

brand workshop messaging

Armed with a defined position and a lifelike human brand persona, the group can begin to uncover the messages that will resonate best with the audience.

An understanding of the journey your audience is on and the touch point they have with your brand allows the strategist to extract exactly how the brand’s communication should roll out at various interactions.

The Brand Story

brand workshop story

This can often be an enjoyable and creative session for the group as they piece together the narrative the brand will communicate.

Though many will jump to stories of the founders and their history, it’s the strategist’s job to keep the focus on the audience, their story and the background and interests that connect them with the brand on their road to success.

The Visual Brand

One of the most gratifying sessions of the brand strategy workshop, this is where the strategy comes to life visually.

The group leans on the brand characteristics it has developed to extract and isolate a look and feel that will represent the brand visually.

Although the identity itself is not developed in the workshop, images, keyword and even moodboards can be collated to corner that image.

The Brand Expression Plan

brand workshop reach out

Based on who the audience is, the group will look to uncover where they congregate and go to for answers related to the brand solution.

These insights will form the basis of a marketing execution plan for the brand to begin marketing and sending their brand message into the world.

Post Strategy Workshop Phase

brand workshop post strategy

Once the workshop has been conducted, and the information, insights, ideas and directions are collected by the brand strategist, the next phase begins.

Brand Strategists work in a variety of ways.

Some work on a consulting only basis and will provide only guidance and direction for the brand leadership team to take into the next phase.

Some act as consultants and project managers who oversee the realisation of the brand development while other brand strategists roll up their sleeves and execute the brand development along with their team.

brand workshop strategy team

Such a hands-on strategist may work alone; have one or two specialists to they work with or they may have a whole team including any number of specialists including

Brand Identity Designers

UX / UI Designers

Environmental Designers

Developers

Copywriters

Printers

Packaging Producers

Events Planners

SEO’s

Social Media Managers

Media Buyers

Regardless on the strategist’s philosophy or processes, the brand is expanded and finalised in the post workshop phase with the strategist often revisiting the leadership team multiple times as the brand comes to life.

Benefits Of A Branding Workshop

brand workshop strategy team

There are many approaches to building a brand and the collaborative brand strategy workshop environment is just one.

More often than not this approach is more beneficial to businesses with multiple decision makers or extensive teams as the collaborative environment allows the brand to be build from every considerations.

For smaller businesses, often the business owner assumes all of these roles and considerations though a collaborative workshop provides the business owners and opportunity to influence the brand development.

Here are some benefits of the Branding Workshop:

An Input Opportunity For All Stakeholders

brand workshop stakeholders

The workshop environment provides a platform for everyone’s voice to be heard. Provided the strategist facilitates the workshop well enough, every stakeholder should feel his or her input was important.

Leadership Collaboration

brand workshop collaboration

Although the business leaders discuss their day-to-day operations often, many will never or rarely have had such broad conversations about the brand.

Pooling their ideas can be a powerful exercise that brings the team closer.

Solidifies Collective Meaning And Beliefs

brand workshop teamwork

When the leadership team begin to define the meaning behind the work they do and what the brand stands for, the benefit can have tremendously positive benefits to the culture of the brand and each individual’s attitude towards their work.

Uncovers A Cohesive Brand Direction

brand workshop outcome

One of the most obvious benefits to an effective branding workshop is the outcome it delivers.

Often, brands that conduct a brand strategy workshop don’t have a clearly defined and well-structured plan for the success of the brand.

By the time the strategy workshop has been concluded, the leadership team and the brand strategist will have collectively developed a clear plan for direction for which they can all feel connected to.

Over To You

A Branding Workshop is a very effective collaborative strategy many brand strategist use to build strategic brands as a team of people with an interest in its development.

For any business with multiple decision makers, extensive stakeholders or simply a desire to be part of the brand building process, the branding workshop is a very effective process; strategists can use to build brands in a collaborative way.

If you’re a brand strategist looking for a way to involve your clients then a branding workshop should be something you should look to integrate into your processes.

What are your experiences or challenges regarding branding workshops are there any techniques from this article you can take into your own business?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.