brand strategy discovery

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I’m always on the lookout for new questions to use in brand discovery.  I rely on a fairly static battery of questions for company stakeholders, who provide the business foundation for my consumer questions. (Consumer questions are way less static.) Truth be told, the company is paying the bills and approving brand recommendations so they get dibs. The people I choose to speak with in the company are also the ones closest to the customer. Consumer insights are a planners’ bread and butter, but understanding the business side is fundamental.

So, I’ve been think of adding a new question to my discovery and it delves into “embarrassment.”  I love plumbing the depths of “pride” as a matter of course, but embarrassment is something I’ve not dealt in. Embarrassment is opposite of pride. My pride questions goes like this “What is the nicest compliment someone ever paid you about_____?”  Imma have to think a little more before I come up with the embarrassment Q.

Stay tuned. Peace.


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When I interview people at a company to learn more about it during my discovery process I have a set piece of questions. If working in a category with which I’m unfamiliar I often create a new questions to level set me. Learning the language of the category is an important first step. Before I start questioning I tell the interviewee to please tell stories to make your point. It helps me better and more quickly understand. Stories provide texture, importance and ballast from the teller’s point of view.  Data and information are just tracks to be trod over. Data and information are the CV of the business. Important and crucial stuff yes, but they don’t reveal “soul” the way stories do.

I never closed a deal during a brand strategy without stories. Never. If you have stories, when presenting to decision-makers, you are a brother/sister. People don’t have a hard time disagreeing with you if you have a story. They’ve more open and real in their objection…often sharing a contrary story.

I loves me some data in brand planning. But stories feed the brief. They give heart to the claim and proof planks.



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popping the question

What’s The Idea? readers know my brand planning framework revolves around the mining of proof.  Proof of actions, deeds and results. But how does one mine for proof?  Google might use the algo. Me? I ask questions. Done well, questions are the lubricant that bring forth critical values.

I’d be fibbing if I told you the battery of questions I use is unique to each investigation. That said I’m constantly adding, subtracting and thinking of question to help in discovery. Following are two new questions worth sharing.

What about this product or service heroic? Heroes are what make great books and movies. It’s what kids aspire to. Saviors of the neighborhood. Heroes are what make countries, religions and cultures great. Heroes are passed down generationally. This question requires thought and may take some prodding. Best to ask it early in the interview so it can be thought about if not readily answerable.

What about this product or service will stand the test of evolution? Students of natural selection understand the scientific order that culls out bad traits and preserves good. Genes that improve an organism will, over time, outlast the destructive ones. This question is meant to find brand strengths through a new lens. A scientific lens.

I can’t wait to pop these questions. Always be learning. And evolving.



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