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The Branding Tool for Everything and The Banana Brand Example

Image credits: Tookapic

A short explanation of a branding tool for everything and everyone.

Making an idea, process, product or service into a tangible concept is a very common struggle for most startups and small business owners. 

A branding tool that I have worked with (That works for everything from Investment Banking brands to dog breeding) is Brand Personality. It’s an easy tool for everyone in your team to understand and hard to fuck up, and always delivers results that trigger creative thinking in even the most square thinkers.
Branding
First of, branding is actually very simple. It’s just made complicated by people that make money from the gibberish lingo and tacky-wacky keynote presentations in meetings that kick in so many open doors that everybody gets a cold from the draft.

For starters, the definition of what a brand is can be explained with a lot of different buzzwords and catchphrases, and one of those explanations are:
A group of peoples share similar feelings and beliefs about a product, service, organization or character.
Sounds simple doesn’t it, that because it is. For example; Japanese cooking knife brands are for some reason perceived to be of better quality and stay sharper for longer because along a long time ago they used to make samurai swords, right?
The Tool: A BRAND PERSONALITY.
One of the easiest ways to define a brand is to conceptualize it into 3 human characteristics based on the consumer’s preconceived notion of that brand. 

As branding is about feelings and beliefs and not facts, it’s important to be as clear as possible when briefing a marketing-, product- or service-development team on your brand. It’s also a hell of a lot simpler to give feedback in a creative work environment.

For example; Let’s say your brand is defined as Trustworthy — Posh — Sexy, it would be hard to move into the dog toy market (but not impossible).

So in order to pin-down your characteristic all, you need to do is these three simple work shop steps: Collect, Organize and Re-create. In a start-up situation, this should be done together with all the stakeholders plus at least one outsider. The steps are very simple and you do not need to be a “creative”.

The Step-by-Step Guide

1. COLLECT
First you need data.. good old quality clean data.
A vast amount of knowledge about your users is paramount to any organization and the first step in understanding your brand. Why they think and act in correlation with your product or service should affect not only the current situation of your business but lead the way in all the future product and service development.

If you are a Start-up and you don’t have any “real” users yet, then target the competitions users together with the perception and expectation from the Stakeholders.

The primary part of the data collected should be via Qualitative interviews, as that is the best way to get unbiased information. What you are looking for is “a faster horse” scenario when asking about user needs. The only big no no is asking yes or no questions and avoid all group interviews like the plague.

The Banana Brand example.
Let say we have a product and brand we call the Banana and we want to collect data about our consumers, we need to establish the following:  

- What problem your product or service is solving for the user?,  
- Why the user has that problem?  
- Why they choose your product or service? 

Banana Qualitative Interview data example:

Why do you eat fruit?
“I like the sweet taste and it’s more healthy than a cheese sandwich or chocolate bar.” “ I am trying to think more about what I eat.”

Why did you eat the banana?
“My blood sugar was low. And the banana looked tasty.” “It’s high on calcium I think?” “Of all the fruit in the basket, it was the most appealing, as I wanted something sweeter than an apple and bigger than the grapes.”

What did you think of it?
“It was sweet and felt bigger than it looked as I didn’t need to eat anything after.” “It was different, it was sweet and not sour like the apples.”

What is your relationship with bananas? 
“I loved them as a kid and my grandmother used to mash them in my porridge in the morning.” “ Never had one before, but I like them they are very nice to hold and easy to bring along.”

Compared to other snack foods what is your opinion on bananas?
”They are really good as I am on the go a lot and you only need one hand to eat them.“ ”Also the peel is very smart as it shows you when it’s ready to eat.” “Great design, the cover tells you by the color if its ready to eat.” “ You can buy five at a time and hang them on a hook in the kitchen.”
2. ORGANIZE
Sort it out and boil it all down.
All your data (in our Banana brand case, Qualitative Interview statements) needs to be organized into three fields from a users perspective:

Image credits: Carl Dacko

The Discovery field: Which is the first impression. It can be visually attraction or rumors about the brand prior to use.

The Experience field: The actual use of the product or service. How was the usability, or how did it solve the user’s problem.

The Loyalty field:
Whats the opinion after use. Regrets, opinion about the competition, improvements.
So in The Banana Interview data example start first to highlight the words of typical brand value such as adjectives.
“I like the sweet taste and its more healthy then a cheese sandwich or chocolate bar.” “ I am trying to think more about what i eat.”

My blood sugar was low. And the banana looked tasty.” “Its high on calcium I think?” “Of all the fruit in the basket it was the most appealing, as i wanted something sweeter then an apple and bigger then the grapes,”

“It was sweet and felt bigger then it looked as I didn’t need to eat anything after.” “It was different, it was sweet and not sour like the apples.”

“I loved them as a kid and my grandmother used to mash them in my porridge in the morning.” “ Never had one before, but i like them they are very nice to hold and easy to bring along.”

”They are really good as I am on the go a lot and you only need one hand to eat them.“ ”Also the peal is very smart as it shows you when its ready to eat.” “Great design, the cover tells you by the color if its ready to eat.” “ You can buy five at a time and hang them on hook in the kitchen.”
With the different adjectives in mind, try to position each word in order of user perspective field. Also try to translate valuable parts of the text into adjectives, for example:
“mashing up bananas in porridge” can be translated into adaptable with other products.
“on the go” “with one hand” can be translated into accessible and resourceful
The result being:

Image credits: Carl Dacko

3. CREATE AND RE-CREATE
Start cooking.

The last step is to create common denominators with-in each field. The point is to end up with 3 words without any contradictory.

If you come across strong negative words save them, they are the brand’s evil twin and should be treated as a wake-up call.

The result should now be that you have a brand personality. For The Banana Brand example:

The bonus with this process is that you also end up with a pocket size version of a Customer journey.
Now as a practice; write a product development brief for your brand.

For example:
1. What would a digital service be/do/look like?
2. What kind of dog (real or fictional) would you breed?
3. What kind of person (real or fictional) would you sponsor?
4. What would other brands on other markets would be interesting to connect with?
"You now have to decide what 'image' you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place. "
― David Ogilvy
Already implement personality into your brand? Please share your experiences and knowledge with us by mentioning us on @XiMnetMY.
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