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How to Define Your Brand with GV's 3-Hour Sprint

How to define your brand with GV's 3 hour sprint

JAKE KNAPP, former Designer at Google, former Design Partner at GV:

The three-hour brand sprint makes the abstract idea of “our brand” into something concrete. At the end, you'll have a simple cheat sheet you can use to make decisions.

The sprint consists of six exercises:

  1. 20-Year Roadmap
  2. What, How, Why
  3. Top 3 Values
  4. Top 3 Audiences
  5. Personality Sliders
  6. Competitive Landscape

Before You Begin

  • Use a brand sprint in response to a trigger, like naming your company or designing a logo.
  • Choose two to six participants—these have to be company executives—including a “decider”—typically the CEO.
  • Familiarize yourself with the “note-and-vote” process:
    • Individually write responses for each exercise. All responses are read aloud and added to the whiteboard.
    • Write down your favorite response. Votes are read aloud and tallied on the whiteboard.
    • Discuss the answers. The decider chooses their favorite.
    • Photograph the whiteboard after each exercise and add photos to a slide deck: this is your brand guide.

1. 20-Year Roadmap (15 Minutes)

Draw a timeline on the whiteboard, labeled with 5, 10, 15, and 20 years into the future. Answer the question: “What will your company be doing at each of those future dates?” and use the note-and-vote process to choose a single answer for each date.

2. What, How, Why (30 Minutes)

Draw three concentric circles on a whiteboard labeled “what” (outside circle), “how” (middle), and “why” (inside). Collect answers to these questions:

  • What does your company do? For example, “make toothpaste” or “fix cars.”
  • How do you do it? What sets you apart from your competitors? For example, “made with all-natural ingredients” or “best-in-class friendly service.”
  • Why? This is the reason you get out of bed in the morning. For example, “promote healthy living” or “help people get where they need to go.”

Use note-and-vote to choose a single answer for each question.

3. Top 3 Values (30 Minutes)

Make your “why” more specific by ranking your company values. Examples include Honesty, Integrity, Sustainability, Affordability, and Luxury. Use note-and-vote to find your favorites. The decider cuts these down to three values and ranks them to identify the single most important value

4. Top 3 Audiences (30 Minutes)

Your “audience” extends beyond customers to anyone whose opinion matters to your company: other businesses, reporters, advertisers, employees, potential hires, and even government regulators. Note-and-vote to narrow down your selection before the decider picks the top three audiences.

5. Personality Sliders

Next, position your company between pairs of brand extremes:

  • “Friend” to “Authority”
  • “Young & Innovative” to “Mature & Classic”
  • “Playful” to “Serious”
  • “Mass Appeal” to “Elite”

Everyone marks their selection on the whiteboard. Choices can fall anywhere on the spectrum, but it’s helpful to be strongly opinionated on one or two ranges. Discuss any instances where people disagree, and let the decider make the final call.

6. Competitive Landscape

The last exercise is a 2x2 matrix:

  • “Classic” to “Modern” on the x-axis
  • “Expressive” to “Reserved” on the y-axis

Everyone lists competing companies in their industry and chooses the one or two most important. Choices are read aloud, written on sticky notes, and placed on the matrix. Collaborate to plot your own company on the matrix and discuss how this positioning aligns with the previous exercises. The decider makes the final call.

Summarized by Reforge. Original article by Jake Knapp • Visiting Fellow @ IDEO