10 Questions To Ask When Starting A Branding Project
By Matt Gorlaski
The Value of a Brand is Undeniable
A brand is the most important piece of work a company can contract. It’s much more than a logo. It’s a system of visual and verbal elements that work together to create an emotion surrounding a company.
At a glance, a potential customer should be able to tell what kind of company they are looking into based solely on a logo, color scheme, and the voice of their copy.
BUT, the brand has to align perfectly with its company and their customers.
Now that we’ve determined the importance behind a brand, how do we as branding experts shape the brand in a way that matches the company and where it’s headed?
Besides doing a formidable amount of research before an initial meeting with a client, it’s extremely important to ask them questions to hear them speak about themselves and their company. When we listen to people speak about their own company we start to determine their pain points and passion for their work. Since a brand is the visual and verbal foundation of a company, it’s extremely important to listen to the people who represent it.
If we do our jobs right, a company’s target audience will get a feel for the company before ever meeting them in person. Though, matching a brand to its company is only half the battle. The other half of the equation is the customer. In order to be a successful business, you need customers. If your brand does not speak directly to your target audience it will miss the mark and draw the wrong type of customers.
So, be strategic and specific with the questions you ask.
Again, asking the client is the best way to determine their audience. However, it’s extremely important to be strategic and specific when opening up this conversation. If the information is too generic you’ll likely miss something and could end up with a logo and brand that falls flat and looks like every other company.
Want to hit the ground running with a branding project?
Ask your client these questions and see what answers you get!
1. In one sentence, what does your business do?
This is the elevator pitch. At this point you’ve done your research, have read the client’s “About Us” page, and learned a bit about what the company does. But this question exists so you can hear it from the experts in a way that is short and sweet. This sentence is an important phrase that will need to be front and center so a customer can understand a brand quickly.
2. What problem do you solve for your customers?
Diving a bit deeper, you need to figure out what the company actually does for someone. This question could be as simple as we feed hungry lunch-goers by selling sandwiches on the streets of Charlotte; or as complicated as we give financial investment options to people using our multi-branch company. It’s important for the client to explain the problem and solution in detail so we can start to shape a story for the brand.
3. What’s the story behind your current brand?
The answer to this question should not be business-centric. This is where we can start to squeeze some emotion and character out of the brand. People love to hear a story and it’s important for potential customers to know where a business has been and why it was started.
4. Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
A brand must be built for the long-haul. Coca-Cola and Nike don’t randomly change their logo when they feel like it needs refreshed. So, as branding experts we must plan for the future of our clients. If we can figure out where they believe the brand can go, we will be able to set the brand up for success. Trends come and go, but a logo must live forever.
5. Are there any particular adjectives people associate with your brand?
Adjectives are the best way to get a solid starting point for a brand. Because the target audience is half the battle, it’s important to know what they think about the current brand. These adjectives could be negative or positive. From this point you and the client can discuss what kind of adjectives they’d like to evoke?
6. Who are your direct competitors?
Competitive research is crucial. When talking about a client’s competition, you can go on to inquire about their brand and how it compares. If you didn’t research the particular companies they mentioned before, it’s important do the research so you can see how others in the same industry present themselves.
7. Who is the primary target audience?
Although this question is pivotal, it’s a great example of a question that is too generic. The target audience is so important that your client will need to go into much more detail.
When asking this question make sure you ask follow-up questions such as: What is the target audience’s age group? Are they mainly male or female? Where do most of your audience live? What is the average household income of your target audience?
With these specifics you can nail down the true persona you’re aiming for. If you and your client feel that it’s necessary to build out a secondary target audience for the brand, the more the merrier. But it’s important that the answer to this question is not “Anyone looking for product/service.”
8. Why should your target audience choose your product or service above your competitors?
What makes this client different? If you haven’t noticed, many of these questions work to find the key differentiator between your client and their competitors. The differences could be small or large. Either way, it’s our job to make these benefits shine through.
9. What three attributes would you like your target audience to think of when they look at your new branding?
This answer will truly create pillars for the brand. It will shape the visual attitude and voice of the brand. These attributes will drive what the brand needs to look like in order to reach those customers and create connections. If the new brand does not follow these pillars, it may miss many potential customers.
10. What do you like and dislike about the current brand or logo and why?
Sometimes clients like parts of their current brand and want to hold on to it. That’s okay; provided those attributes are not doing them a disservice. With this question though, the why is many times more important than the what.
A solid brand is packed tightly with meaning and it’s important that every element is created for a reason. So keeping an element just because a client “likes” it may not be the best decision.
Well there you have it; 10 questions to ask a client before starting a branding project.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind these questions are from a creative standpoint to get a sense of the current brand and where the brand needs to go down the road. There are many other questions that need to be asked for the entire process to work. Timelines, budgets and communications are all essential parts of a project that I did not touch on.
I hope these creative questions help to guide your next big project in the right direction. Happy branding!
Oh! And don’t forget, once you nail a company’s brand down be sure to show it off. Like on social media!
Viewers will get to see who/what the company, service, or product really is and then recognize the brand each time they see it again. See our Social Media Handbook for more on what you can do with social media to help your business.