Brand Sprint: How to Create a Super Simple Brand Guide

brand sprintWhen it comes to branding, there are times when you need a marathon, and times you need a sprint.

Marathons are for start-ups, businesses merging, or adding new services. But for those of you who might have created your brand back in the day when AOL was still hot and not looked at it since or have just gone through some huge change in your company and need to find a new way forward, a brand sprint is a pretty great idea.

I was inspired by the Design Spring from Jake Knapp, a designer at Google Ventures. He and his team needed to come up with a simple design guide and had done it in three hours — hence the sprint. Later he reworked it for the brand.

DIY Brand Sprint: The Basics

As it sounds, the Sprint is fast — six exercises in three hours. It’s set on a tight time frame to avoid too foster gut instincts and gets your entire team on the same page to go forward.

Here are the basics:

FIRST Carve out three hours when you can get your CEO, the company principals, and your marketing team together, preferably away from the office, for three hours with no distractions and no cell phones.

One participant is designated as must be the “Decider” — the company’s true decision-maker about your brand. In most cases, the Decider is the CEO, but in some cases, the Decider could be a co-founder or CEO. This does not work without the Decider. Find some way to fit the Brand Sprint into her schedule. If she won’t make the time, don’t do the sprint.

In addition to your executives, you’ll need one or a facilitator. These might be people from marketing, product, or design. Since you’re reading this post, you’re a good candidate. The facilitators should have good writing skills.

All of the exercises have about the same MO … the question is brought up and everyone writes down their answers quietly, during the allotted time — about 20 minutes each question. Then the facilitator goes around the table and writes the answers on a white board. After a short discussion, the “Decider” chooses the direction and you move onto the next question.

Brand Sprint

Exercises One and Two: Company’s Motivation

 5 – 10 – 20-Year Roadmap
Writing out your goals. The exercise helps everyone get on the same page long term.

What, How, Why
Finding the why you get out of bed in the morning. It’s about thinking from the inside out … putting your “why” before your “what” and “how.” Not as easy as it sounds! Check out the Simon Sinek video on this here. Great stuff!

Exercises Three and Four: The Details

Top Three Values
Each person writes down their top three values. It’s added to the white board and three are chosen. Having only three really brings it down to specifics.

Top Three Audiences
This is fascinating to hear what everyone thinks. Once everyone chooses the same three, it makes marketing and targeting for your brand super simple.

Exercises Five and Six: Positioning

Personality Sliders — Ven Diagram
Define the attitude and style of your brand and position it in relation to others. This is super interesting, especially with multi-generational teams!

Competitive Landscape — Ven Diagram
Important to know your competitor and how you are different from them – always!

The Result

Short term you will get clarity on your marketing efforts and what message to present consistently. Your long-term marketing efforts will now be more focused as you have established your personality, where you fall in the competitive landscape and what your direction is for the next five, 10 and 20 years.

Like exercise of all kind, the exercise of doing a Brand Sprint will make you a stronger, better, more agile company. In all, well worth a little pain to gain this type of insight!

If you are interested in conducting a Brand Sprint with your team, set up a free 15 -minute consultation with me.

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