Recently I was on a short brand strategy call with a client. When we were finishing the call, she commented on how helpful our chat had been, and I responded by telling her that she did all the work - I just asked some questions. Really, that's all I did. What I did wasn't difficult, but it was incredibly helpful for this business owner, which got me thinking:
Is there any skill in life that is better than being able to ask great questions?
I really don't think there is. Here's why. The ability to ask great questions shows a deeper investment in whatever conversation you're having. Whether you're on a first date or in an executive level business meeting, the questions you ask show how engaged you are in what you're talking about.
I used to be a terrible question-asker. Actually, I still am. It just doesn't come naturally to me. But I've been working really, really hard to act like one, because question-asking is a skill that is developed. Sure, some people are naturally better at it than others, but no one has an excuse to not do it, because all it takes is a little forethought and some intentionality. By now you may be thinking, "Okay I get it, you think asking great questions is important, but this is supposed to be about branding, so what's the connection??"
Here it is: I like to think about brands as if they were people. A brand is a living, breathing thing with character, values and a personality. So how do you get to know who someone really is? You spend time with them and you ask them questions. "What do you like to do?" "What kind of music do you listen to?" "What things are important to you?" "Where do you like to shop?" and so on and so forth. A great brand strategist will ask you TONS of questions about your brand, because it is deeper than just fonts and colors.
If you don't have a brand strategist, consider sitting down with your business partner, or a trusted friend, and working through some of these questions (and try to think of more!) to begin your branding (or re-branding) process:
- If the brand is a "person", what three adjectives would I want customers to use to describe it?
- What is the mission and vision of the brand?
- What are three things that the brand values most?
- Does our current visual identity fit with the "person" described above?
- As an aside - I like to think of logos/visual identities as like picking out a wardrobe for your brand. The better I know someone, the easier it is for me to pick out clothes and accessories that they would/wouldn't want to wear. How do I figure out what they like? I ask, that's right, questions!
- How do we communicate this brand to the world?
Now these questions will take some time to process through. You probably won't be able to sit down for five minutes and figure it all out. But that's okay. Because branding is a process. It's not making a logo and slapping it on a bunch of stuff. And the more you "get to know" your brand, the more it will become like your best friend and not like your weird crazy uncle.