How To Run A Brand Strategy Session

[The Definitive Guide]

So, how do you run a brand strategy session and more importantly, how do you do it in a way that will produce strategic brands with an edge?

Brand strategy is an art and experienced brand strategists are the first to emphasise the importance of the process.

Rush or skip any one of the critical process steps and you’ll end up with a poorly positioned or misaligned brand, struggling to resonate with its intended audience.

The key to a well-developed strategic brand that makes connections and attracts loyal followers?

A well choreographed brand strategy session.

In this article, you’ll learn how to run a successful brand strategy session like a pro.

So, how do you run a brand strategy session and more importantly, how do you do it in a way that will produce strategic brands with an edge?

Brand strategy is an art and experienced brand strategists are the first to emphasise the importance of the process.

Rush or skip any one of the critical process steps and you’ll end up with a poorly positioned or misaligned brand, struggling to resonate with its intended audience.

The key to a well-developed strategic brand that makes connections and attracts loyal followers?

A well choreographed brand strategy session.

In this article, you’ll learn how to run a successful brand strategy session like a pro.

How To Run A Brand Strategy Session
[The Video Breakdown]

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How To Run A Brand Strategy Session
[15-Step Framework]

In a previous article we broke down exactly what a brand strategy session is which gives a high level overview.

Before you define your brand strategy session processes, you must first decide upon the approach that’s best suited to you, your personality, your circumstances and of course your market position.

You may want to build your processes around “Brand Strategy Workshops” and  meet with your clients face to face.

Or you may prefer to run remote sessions via phone calls or video conferences to gather your information and gain insights.

Either way, here is an effective framework you can implement into your business processes.

Stage 1
Discovery Session Process

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Step #1
Schedule Your Session

Once you engage your prospect, it’s important to set up a time as quickly as possible.

Your prospects have thousands of brands all vying for their attention and that includes your direct competitors.

Chances are, you’re not the only branding specialist they’re engaging.

It’s important to note however, that this is not about chasing them, calling them 10 times or coming across needy.

It’s about being swift with your response and direct with your communication.

Offer them a choice of two sessions within the coming week. This sense scarcity and urgency is far more likely to drive action and increase the perceived value of your time than simply asking them to tell you when they’re available.

Step #2
Prep For The Session

When scheduling the appointment, ask your prospect some very basic business questions, which will give you enough to gather some basic preliminary information.

Data such as their industry, their location, any known competitors etc will allow you to perform some simple research to arm you with a little understanding of their market landscape before you speak to them.

These insights will allow you to speak from a position of knowledge, which will earn trust with your prospect.

Step #3
Build Rapport Through Human Engagement

One of the keys to a successful client relationship is through human connection.

Although you’re a professional and you want to portray your professionalism in your conversations, it’s important not to come across as a pre-recorded robot full of sound bites and statistics.

There is a time and a place for this analytical data, but early on, you want to make a human connection so that data will hold more weight through the trust you’ve earned.

Tell a brief story, anecdote or even better, a story of someone in a very similar situation to your client and why that’s a story you like to tell.

This gives you an opportunity to show that you’re an actual human who they’ll be able to easily speak to throughout the process.

Step #4
List The Information You Want To Gather

You’ll know from your brand strategy framework (I.e. how you develop your brand strategy), what information you want to gather from your prospect.

How you structure your questions will set the tone for how your client answers.

You want to give them the freedom to give you as much information as possible so open ended and broad based questions can help you do that.

Step #5
Stay Focused On Obtaining Clarity

It’s important to keep the discovery session structured.

You will probably have a defined duration for the session, which your prospect has booked out in their diary. It’s important that you respect their time while also gathering the information you need.

If your prospect is a talker and you only get a fraction of the information you needed, they won’t blame themselves for going over the allocated time.

It’s important to know when to let your client speak (eg. If they’re speaking about the exciting future of their business) and when to get them back on track.

Step #6
Identify Ambiguity

Listen for answers provided by your clients where they’re unsure or unclear about the topic you’ve asked them about.

This provides an opportunity for you to discuss the importance of getting some clarity in this area and because their ambiguity suggests a lack of clarity, they’ll be grateful for this direction.

Eg. If your client gives you little more about their audience other than their profession, sex and age then they don’t have a clear profile of their target audience.

Step #7
Post-Session Summary

Mirroring is the technique of repeating what your client has said to you using their own words and a variation of their words to show empathy.

Use mirroring, rephrasing and coaching, relay the information you’ve gathered from your client back to them.

This allows you to confirm the accuracy of the information but it also allows you to show that you were listening and that you understand their situation, ideas, vision and aspirations.

Stage 2
Research Session Process

Step #8
Audience Persona(s)

Define your target audience using one or more audience personas.

Your clients business may have a multiple audience personas to which you’ll need to tailor the messaging. It’s up to you to identify these personas within the research phase.

Use demographics and psychographics to uncover their situation and behaviours and map their journey to uncover their challenges an pain-points.

Continue to dig deeper until you discover their emotional investment in overcoming their challenges and use this in your brand messaging.

Step #9
Uncover Your Audience Archetype

Uncover the characteristics and personality traits of your audience to better understand their personality type.

Use the archetype framework to align their personality to an archetype or mix of archetypes.

This information will provide you with deep insights as to the characteristics they’re most attracted to which you can then apply to your brand personality development.

Step #10
Competitive Analysis

Identify the most relevant direct and indirect competitors who are serving the audience group you’ve identified in the last step.

Use social media pages, groups forums and review sites to determine how this audience feels about their existing options and where the strengths and weaknesses of you competitors lie.

List these competitors side by side to perform a comparison and look for patterns and gaps in the market.

Stage 3
Strategy Session Process

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Step #11
Start With Aspirations