Planning Your Brand with the Brand Scratch Pad

Your brand is the heart of your company made visual.

Several years ago, I was sitting in a brand strategy meeting and thinking about conversations that frequently come up during the branding process. It occurred to me that many of our clients had never asked themselves crucial questions about what they were trying to accomplish with their business and brand until we were right in the middle of a branding project.

While it’s certainly important to evaluate all aspects of a business during a branding project, it shouldn’t be the only time you’re considering the impact of your brand online. So the next day, I sat at my computer and outlined the Brand Scratch Pad - a series of ten topics that are crucial to the impact of a brand, but also need to be refreshed and reviewed frequently outside of the branding process.

Each of these topics is paired with a series of guided questions to consider, and is available as a free printable workbook!

Download the Brand Scratch Pad

Go ahead and download the Brand Scratch Pad as we walk through each topic of conversation below!

Your Story

Your brand is your message - the heart of what you do, the reason you start and the reason that you keep going to make it something great. Your brand is centered around what you value and appeals to those who share the same ideas. Branding is how you communicate those values and ideas to the world in order to find your community. It’s the heart of your company made visual.

Before defining your brand, it’s important to understand your own relationship to the business you are building. What aspects of your story give your business a heartbeat? Why are you passionate about it?

Your Goals

You can’t build an impactful business by accident. Every successful person will tell you that there was a very distinct intention that fueled the late nights and early mornings. It’s important to frequently step back from the day-to-day tasks to take a look at your business as a whole and evaluate the direction you are headed and where you want to go.

Think through both short and long term goals that align with your story, values, and passion behind your business.

Your Specialty

At first this may seem difficult, but think about what your expectations are for how your branding will affect your business. Branding is not just about what you prefer, but also about what will resonate with your ideal audience. Define what makes your business unique, and the special skills you bring to the table. Looking at your services, team, experience, and communication is a great way to identify how your company may be perceived by your customers and clients.

Your Personality

Your personality adds value to your brand’s experience. People don’t just buy from businesses - they buy from people, especially on the small business level. I would strongly recommend taking at least one personality test to understand your unique skills and strengths, and identify how that may play a role in establishing the best process and form of communication for you. And then OWN the way that you do business in your unique way and let it drive your branding decisions.

Your Dream Life

Often we can get so caught up in an opportunity that we don’t take a moment to think about what we intended to do. What message are you trying to tell? Why did you start? When you pictured yourself pursuing this career, what did you see? What drew you in? What kind of lifestyle did you picture for yourself? Are you living it or going in that direction? Is there anything about the way you present your business that needs to change so that you can do more of the things you love and less of the things you don’t?

Your Values

This is the most important aspect to consider for your brand message. Define five core values that drive your business and brand. Remember, by not selecting a value it doesn’t mean that you don’t demonstrate it in your actions or find it important. It merely means it is not the most defining. Once you determine your brand values, truly stand behind them as you make decisions about your brand - especially when it comes to copywriting. Think about those values and how they relate to your client. Are they as important to the clients you are trying to attract as they are to you?

Your Legacy

It’s easy to think about where you want your business to go in the next year, and more difficult to think about what kind of legacy you’ll leave behind five - or even ten - years down the road. To build a timeless and impactful brand, you have to think of the larger influence you will have on your industry and community. And in order to have the capacity to create meaningful work, you need to eliminate all the non-essential products and services that are cluttering your message.

Pain Points

When thinking about a brand refresh, it’s fun to dream about the future, and more uncomfortable to confront the things we are not doing well. But the pain points in our business will show us the ways that we can improve. By understanding what hasn’t worked, or where you’re currently dropping the ball, you’ll know what needs your immediate attention, and how you can best serve your audience and business in the most meaningful way.

Brand Footprint

It’s time to take a good look at what your business is currently saying so you can begin to craft a message for where you’ll go in the future. Pull up your website, social media platforms, and documents to see your business through your client or customer’s eyes. It is cohesive? Does it make sense? Is it outdated or incorrect? What’s working and where are you seeing the most engagement? Which pages of your website get the most traffic?

Ideal Client/ Customer

Your ideal audience is made up of potential customers and clients, the people who would be interested and a good fit for your offerings. An ideal client values your time, can afford your pricing, and loves your work. He or she pays on time, happily follows the rules of your process, and respects your boundaries. They ultimately are brand ambassadors and become great marketing tools by referring other ideal customers to purchase your products or services.

Download the Brand Scratch Pad

I would love to hear from you - did any of these topics surprise you? Did you reach an ah-ha moment in your own branding journey that you plan to implement? Do you have any questions while working through the workbook? Share below!