Creating and running a brand workshop

If you’re looking to build an effective brand strategy for your business, chances are setting up a brand workshop will be first on the agenda.

Creating and running a brand workshop
Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog
Giles Taylor, May 29, 2021

Whether you’re going through a structural change, a company revamp or have noticed a decrease in certain business activities; there are plenty of ways to create and run a super-efficient brand workshop. Read on to find out how.

Let’s look at why you would want to set up a brand workshop

There are a whole host of reasons why you might want to take a step back from your day to day business activities and really put pen to paper. Here are some of the top reasons why you might want to put together a brand workshop and focus on what’s best for your brand:

  • You’ve noticed an influx of new competitors have entered your market, or your customer base has gone through a significant change.
  • As part of a brand redesign, you’re in the process of or have already developed new products or services.
  • Your business is about to enter a brand new market.
  • You’re trying to find ways to put a stamp on your brand difference.
  • You’re looking to ramp up company growth.
  • As part of a strategy to attract the best talent, you’re seeking a competitive edge

This is just a snapshot of reasons why creating and running a brand workshop could be the next logical step for your business. We’ve covered the why’s, now let’s explore the most effective ways to set up your workshop. Starting with...

Appointing a brand workshop leader

Making sure you have the right person to run your brand workshop - also known as a facilitator - can make all the difference when it comes to its success. A leader should be someone inspiring, someone who others will listen to and who people can trust in the decision-making process.

Creating a positive space

One of the benefits of a brand workshop is that it isn’t a meeting. It’s a space to bring people together, discuss ideas and share opinions in order to achieve an overall goal. This means you can set it up as you wish. By creating an environment full of positivity, you can ensure to get the most out of your team. Think comfortable seating, a friendly demeanour and lots of opportunities for collaboration.

Working out group size

One of the things you’ll want to consider with your brand workshop is the size of the group. Ideally, you want 5-8 participants - just enough to capture a variety of views but not too many that the group feels overwhelmed. You can also further split the group into two smaller teams to look at the issue in different ways. This can be applied to a variety of topics, from brand personality to brand values and options for your company logo.

And in these times, you might want to consider running a remote brand workshop.

Making sure people feel included

It’s important not to leave anyone out of the discussions and knowledge sharing sessions, so make sure everyone is able to have their say. When people feel included, they are more likely to want to share ideas and opinions, and positive reinforcement can help the good ideas keep flowing.

Keeping the team focused

It’s normal for workshops of any nature to sometimes deviate from the subject matter, but it’s crucial to keep your team on track to get the most out of the workshop. If a member of your team seems distracted, try to re-engage them by actively involving them in the discussion - ask for their opinion or thoughts, and it can help them to pay closer attention.

Getting practical

Pretty much the entire point of creating and running a brand workshop is to get down to work. While discussion is a key part, it’s also good to get people actively working on the issue quickly and throughout the workshop. Try to keep discussion limited and make sure your key issues are being tested and tried as much as possible.

Setting clear deadlines for activities

To really keep things moving, make sure the group is aware of how much time they have to spend on each exercise and remember that content is key. Keep things simple, keep an eye on any progress and then make it clear when time is up.

Now that you have a clear idea of what you want your brand workshop to look like, it’s time to consider the schedule of activities. A great way to kick things off is to introduce some warm-up exercise, such as...

Exercise 1 - Warm up and defining personality

If you’ve ever heard of the game, “if we were a”, then you’re already setting off on the right foot. In order to get your most forward-thinking minds to question your brand personality, this game is all about equating your brand with other objects and people. Try the following questions to really get the creative juices flowing:

  • If your brand was an animal, would it be a lion, an eagle or a dog?
  • If it were a fruit or vegetable, what would it be, what would it taste like?
  • If the business were a colour, what colour would it be?

This game, as well as providing a great platform to warm up, is also a quick way to assess your brand’s positioning. It helps you to see things from a different angle as a way to refocus on your brand.

There have been a number of studies on associating human qualities to brands, with many showing how it can offer businesses a significant advantage by setting them apart from the competition. Not only does a unique and distinctive personality establish a brand’s tone of voice, it can also hugely help to develop a relationship with the people your brand is trying to connect with.

Exercise 2 - Brand purpose or brand proposition

After you’ve warmed up the minds of your group, you’ll want to move onto the part that focuses on your brand purpose or proposition. With more and more consumers seeing brand purpose as an essential factor when seeking out a product or service, you don’t want to skimp on this area.

Here, you could get your group to write down their what, how, why:

  • What is it they do or think they do?
  • How do they do it?
  • Why do they do it?

Once you have this information, turn the tables around to focus on what it is that your business does, how does it do it and, as the most important consideration, why does it do it?

You want to be thinking about the What, How and Why, as this will work out who you are as a brand.

Once you’ve established the warm-up and brand purpose activities, you can work on brand vision, values and positioning, as well as how to target your audience. Each of these activities can involve a variety of different tasks, from cutting up images from newspapers and magazines to imagining your brand as a person at an industry event in order to work out your audience's story and brand personality.

Then comes the time to look at your competitor landscape. This part is critical to your brand, as it’s crucial to consider who you might be up against. Use a competitive matrix to assess where your competition lies in order to help you gain a clear understanding of their brand and positioning.

These are some of the ideas and energy we bring to our brand workshops. Crafted to get the best out of our clients and us the brand agency, digging the foundations for the new brand identity project. 

Giles Taylor writes for W/Brand Design Blog

Giles Taylor

Giles is the founder and creative director for W/Brand. A graphic designer from Reading in Berkshire, UK, he's a dad with two wonderful children who enjoys walking and playing the guitar.  

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