Branding exercises: I changed my mind and I’m giving them away L.A.B.

Our last post on branding (how much should you give away) struck a nerve with folks. It seemed like a lot of people can relate about wondering how much of your thinking to give away. We were working through our own branding process and we thought: well, this is our IP — should we really share it? My original thought was no.

I’ve since reconsidered that idea, so I’m going to give away two sequential branding exercises we do as part of L.A.B to get our heads around what makes a campaign or company really special.

1. The First Time

For L.A.B. we pull all of the stakeholders into a room (it’s important that they are physically in the room together) and asked them to remember the first time they interacted with their company. What was their first impression? How were they introduced? Who or what did the introducing? What did you think was going to happen? What was different? What did you think was going to happen next?

Then, we all tell our stories to each other. This helps to get the creative juices flowing around a time and a place. It also helps to frame the brand in experiential stories instead of work lists or jumping to visuals.

2. The Creator

Every participant in the room (again, you have to physically be there) gets a piece of paper to use to illustrate what the company means to them. We’ve seen everything from tearing the paper into little bits and reconstructing, to drawing elaborate and abstract illustrations, to making a simple word list. The point is: how people express themselves will take on different physical properties, but common themes will surface.

Then, we boil the stories and images into statements about the brand. We published those statements in our last post and I thought you would want to see how we got there.

In case you’re new to this series, L.A.B. is a year-long engagement where we research and improve a company’s UX, off and online. It’s only for the companies that want to make a change.

A teaser:

We’ve been running this L.A.B. process on ourselves this year and something curious happened in April: After taking a look at our brand and past work, we’ve decided to fundamentally change our business. We’re working on some of the last bits for that announcement, so stay tuned. It’s a transformative change, exactly what L.A.B. is designed to produce.

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