Resources for a branding workshop

With one client I recently collaborated on a branding workshop for a start-up product. Branding is not really part of my usual work as UX designer but has an immense impact on the strategy, communication, and design work resulting from it. Therefore, I thought I’d compile some helpful resources, tools, and exercises for branding sessions.

Ran Segall creates excellent content on his youtube channel Flux, where he shares his daily lessons learned in his work as designer and entrepreneur. In this video, he reflects on a brand strategy session that is pretty similar to what we did and I like the resources and questions he recommends.

The core values

In our workshop we started with the core value of the brand. What is the core, the purpose, the value proposition of the brand? We used a model by Christine Wichert in order to identify the core, the values, and the corresponding style for it.

This is an example for BMW (in German, unfortunately)


BMW’s brand according to Wichert (2005)

For the client workshop, I found it easiest to start with the values. Our client already held a couple of brainstorming sessions before our meeting, so the challenge was to sort through the existing material and boil it down to the three core values that represent the character of the brand. During the discussion I also captured anything that would fit into describing the style, the outer layer of the model. Once we settled on the values, the discussion of the style was pretty easy. The importance here is also to discuss not only what should be included, but also what is to be excluded. You could ask “what could this value mean that you do not want to intend”, if the discussion gets stuck. We filled out the core last, since it is the most difficult. I wanted to tackle that when all participants were warmed up and at ease in the discussion.

The golden circle

As a second exercise we worked on the golden circle, which is a model proposed by Simon Sinek. In this model you work on the “why – how – what” of your brand.

For this exercise we had everybody individually put their ideas in text on a worksheet. For this exercise we used the following template and had the participant work on the “Why”, “How”, and “What” in three rounds:

“Everything we do we believe in [WHY]. The way we do this is by [HOW]. By the way, we do [WHAT].”

After each round we had everybody read their result and then discuss them in the group. In retrospective, I would do this exercise differently, since it took a lot of time and it was hard to facilitate the discussion and create a synthesis, that everybody felt happy with. If I did this exercise again, I would try a World Café instead. This way, the participants can build on what the others wrote in the previous round and the format keeps the discussion condensed and focused.

Now, I am curious – what other resources and methods do you use in a branding workshop? What worked well and what maybe did not?

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